Mama, breastfeeding takes teamwork
Photo Credit: Mai Williams, Mai Fotography
Six weeks ago I became a mother for the second time.
It was then that I realised how demanding having two children under the age of two can be.
And how I need support more than ever.
My husband is brilliant. He's been looking after me since I became pregnant and has really stepped up after I gave birth to our youngest. It's not always talked about but I think it is important to highlight how important it is to have someone helping to care for you, while you care for your babies.
My husband has catered to my needs in every sense.
From making sure that I always had water in my water bottle, cooking my meals, looking after our toddler, to ensuring that my pump was washed and sterilised even if that meant waking up with me at 2 am so that I could pump. He understands the challenges women face postpartum and that parenting is a partnership.
He's done everything he can to alleviate my workload.
But he's not just 'helping me' - he's doing what good fathers, husbands, humans do. He knows that growing and nurturing an infant after the challenges of pregnancy and childbirth is exhausting and that women do far better if they are supported. He understands that if I am fed, if I have enough to drink, and we share the nights that seem to stretch on forever, then it is much easier to navigate the trials of the newborn blur.
It is far easier to establish a good breastfeeding relationship with the baby - and this will set us up for the long run. Even though this is my second time breastfeeding a baby, it has come with it’s own set of new challenges and I am overcoming these with the support my husband has been able to give me.
I am grateful to him and I realise that, shockingly, it is all too rare.
My husband is one of the few lucky men that get to spend a decent amount at time at home for paternity leave as he gets 4 weeks, something that is almost unheard of in Hong Kong where usually fathers will only get five days.
And it makes such a difference.
This time has been beneficial both for him to bond with our new baby and for myself to have someone who to share the workload and support the difficult early postpartum weeks, when support is needed the most.
Whether it's your husband, your parents, your in-laws, friends, or a confinement nurse, it's great to plan in advance what you might need from your 'Boob Squad' in those early weeks and adjust as you need to.
Here's my 5-Point Guide
PHOTO CREDIT: Gonzalo Moreno
1. Hydration is so important when you’re breastfeeding in order to produce more milk, ensuring mama's water bottle is always full is a simple yet useful way to help.
2. A lot of women struggle with breastfeeding and having a supportive partner who is willing to be patient, listen and give encouragement when needed is essential.
3. Breastfeeding happens anywhere between 8-12 times and some days it might be more. This combined with the intensity of cluster feeding means that mama and newborn have to spend a lot of time together. To give them time and space to bond, it makes sense for someone else to take charge in the care of any older children.
4. Catering to mums needs such as bringing her the remote control so she can watch Netflix whilst feeding, making her meals, and doing the house work means that mama and baby can just focus on each and establishing that breastfeeding bond. It's a learned skill and every little one is different - it takes time to adjust to the new pace of things.
5. Attend a class or read ahead (here's our breastfeeding survival guide but La Leche League and most midwives can provide online support too) . In much the same way people prepare for the demands of pregnancy, it's worth thinking ahead about breastfeeding and pumping too. There are many classes available for parents that focus on different aspects including breastfeeding, this is particularly helpful for first-time parents and to learn together so that you can support one another once baby arrives.