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How you can help...

In our research Dads and partners have sometimes told us that they felt ‘useless’ when it came to supporting their partner to breastfeed.

It is understandable that it can feel frustrating when your loved one is having difficulties and you feel like you cannot remove the burden.  Especially when they have been through a possibly difficult and long labour and you just want to help them get some rest!

However research also tells us that support from partners and families can make the world of difference when it comes to breastfeeding. In fact, having a supportive partner at home is one of the key things that makes a difference to whether or not a mother is able to meet her breastfeeding goals.

So how can you help?  In the video some Dads explain how they have supported their partner with breastfeeding.

The parents that we spoke to gave the following suggestions. Some of these may feel like small gestures, but they can make a huge difference to how your partner feels.

Managing other people to support your partner

An important part of supporting your partner may be helping to manage other people. This might mean limiting or delaying visitors whilst your partner becomes more comfortable with breastfeeding in front of others.

It could also mean being an advocate for breastfeeding. Be prepared to speak up if someone questions your reasons for breastfeeding, especially family members or friends or when breastfeeding in public.

You could also help your partner to seek support with breastfeeding difficulties. Perhaps you could find the number for the health visitor or local peer support service, or search for more specialist help to help her continue breastfeeding if things are not going well. If you were able to be present for some appointments you might be able to help the mother to explain the difficulties she is experiencing, if she is too tired to think straight.

If your partner has had a c-section and is unable to drive, taking (or arranging for someone else to take) her and baby to appointments can help her get the support she needs.

It can be helpful for partners to be as well prepared for possible breastfeeding difficulties before baby arrives. There may be some antenatal prepared-ness classes you can attend locally to learn more about breastfeeding and how to make it work.