This post is sponsored by The Breastfeeding Shop.
You’ve made the decision to breastfeed your baby: That’s great! But as you spend hours feeding, rocking, and holding your newborn, your spouse may be feeling a little left out.
When we had our first baby, my husband was in a military teaching assignment where he was home everyday. He expected to have lots of bonding time with his new daughter. Because I was nursing her, I was spending hours feeding and holding the baby every morning and night. When she cried, she didn’t want him to hold her. . . she wanted me to feed her. This frustrated him, since he was trying hard to find different ways to bond. He once commented in frustration, “Well, I’ve tried everything, but there’s nothing I can do for her right now. I’m not the one with the boobs!”
Getting your spouse involved with a breastfed baby can be a challenging situation for everyone. You all want your spouse and baby to get some bonding time. . . but you also want to feed your baby when they cry. What’s a new mom to do? After having four babies together, my husband and I have worked out these strategies so he can stay involved with our breastfed newborns.
One of the most exhausting parts of breastfeeding for mom is the nighttime nursing sessions. I sometimes stayed up late because I thought the baby would wake up again in about an hour. My husband didn’t mind staying up until midnight since that was his time to watch TV or play video games. But it was draining me since I would have to get up for a 3 AM feeding, too. We learned that I could go to bed shortly after the baby, while my husband waited up with the baby monitor. When the baby woke up around midnight, he would get her and bring her to me. Sometimes, if I pumped before going to bed, he could give her a bottle. This allowed him some nighttime cuddles while I got some much-needed sleep.
Speaking of bottles, Dad can always be the one doing bottle feedings. A breastfed baby can use bottles if you pump and store your breast milk. Let Dad be the one to offer the bottle when you are first introducing them to baby. A newborn is more likely to accept a bottle from anyone besides mom. Once bottle-feeding is established, your spouse can be the one to take breast milk from the freezer, thaw it, and warm it under running water. There are more details in this article about how to bottle-train a newborn.
For many moms, a nursing session includes feeding, burping, and changing a diaper. However, there is no law that mom has to do all of that herself. She can hand the baby off to Dad for burping and diaper changes. This is an opportunity for Dad to walk around with the baby, pat their back, and get some skin-to-skin contact time. It also gives mom’s arms a break so she can do something like drink water or eat a meal without the baby.
Bathtime and bedtime routines
Sometimes, the military demands long hours and your spouse is barely home before the children go to bed. If this is the only time they will see the baby awake during the week, let them have some routines and rituals together. Your spouse can take over baby’s bath time or a certain part of the bedtime routine like swaddling or playing music. Sure, they may be more playful or do things differently than mom would. But that’s okay—babies need that playfulness and unpredictability from a parent. Having a routine with baby will give your spouse something to look forward to and a unique way to stay connected.
You will have to wait a few months for this one until baby is old enough to eat baby cereal or stage one foods from a spoon. But the wait is worth it. For moms, feeding can be just another messy chore. But for spouses, baby food is the perfect time to make airplane noises, giggle with their baby, and have fun while making a mess. If you have been exclusively breastfeeding for the first few months, let your spouse enjoy finally getting his turn to feed the baby.
When you and your spouse decide to breastfeed your baby, it’s a decision you make together. Use these tips so that you can continue to parent together and be mutually involved in your baby’s routines.
The Breastfeeding Shop provides name-brand, high-quality breast pumps and breastfeeding supplies. Catering to the military community, the Breastfeeding Shop’s quick and easy service ensures that TRICARE beneficiaries can receive breast pumps and supplies at no-cost to them.
By Lizann Lightfoot