Fathers, Partners, Family & Friends

Supporting Mom

Support from fathers, partners, co-parents, family and friends makes a differences and helps mothers achieve their breastfeeding goals.

Ways that fathers, partners, co-parents, family and friends can help with breastfeeding include:

  • Assist with housework and ask friends and family for help, so mom has the time and energy to breastfeed.
  • Problem solve together if difficulties with breastfeeding arise.
  • Finding breastfeeding resources in your area if needed.
  • Monitor the baby’s diapers.
  • Monitor mom’s comfort with breastfeeding.
  • Ask mom what you can do to help her and support her to make breastfeeding easier.
  • Talk about how you will get the childcare and housework done.
  • Treat mom with kindness, affection, and admiration.
  • Let mom know you appreciate the hard work she is doing by breastfeeding.
  • Sit with mom while she breastfeeds, provide comfort, understanding, and care.

Getting to Know Your Baby

Fathers, partners and co-parents need to be involved with their breastfed babies. They need to get to know their babies’ likes and dislikes right from the start.

There are many important ways fathers, partners and co-parents can be involved and get to know your baby that does not involve feeding the baby. Fathers, partners and co-parents can:

  • Bring the baby to mom when baby cues he’s hungry
  • Burp and hold the baby after the feed
  • Change the baby’s diaper
  • Bathe the baby
  • Sing and read to the baby
  • Play with the baby
  • Give the baby a massage
  • Put the baby down to sleep

Fathers, partners and co-parents can find things they enjoy doing with their babies. Their relationship with their babies are very important and will benefit both mothers and babies greatly. Although many fathers, partners and co-parents do not have experience with newborns, with practice, they will feel confident and relaxed.

Working as a Team

Working as a parenting team is important and will help you meet the goals you set for your child.

Set Goals

When parents set breastfeeding goals, they are more likely to achieve them. Talk about how long your child will be exclusively breastfed (fed only breast milk) and how long your child will continue to be breastfed once solid foods have been introduces, at around six months.

Discuss what you will need to do in order to achieve these goals:

What can parents, families and friends do to ensure mom has the time and energy to feed?

Here are other things you can do to work as a team towards meeting your breastfeeding goals

  • Make a plan as to where you will get support if challenged arise
  • Discuss how you will get the household chores completed
  • Discuss which family and friends are available to help out
  • Make sure you are both actively involved with baby care and getting to know your baby
  • Support one another in meeting your breastfeeding goals
  • Communicate effectively and solve problems together

Effective Communication and Problem Solving

Two skills that are very important to working as an effective team are effective communication and problem solving

Effective communication.

  • Put aside time to talk about how breastfeeding is going for each of you.
  • Practice active listening, being present, being attentive, and not getting distracted.

Try this effective communication exercise:

  1. Take turns speaking and listening.
  2. When the speaker is talking the listener should not interrupt.
  3. When the speaker is finished the listener can repeat what he/she thinks he/she heard.
  4. Once you both agree that the message was understood, switch and give the listener a turn to talk.

Effective problem solving.

Problems often get in the way of you trying to meet your goals. It is important to effectively problem solve, so that small problems do not become bigger problems. As well, problems can get in the way of you and your partner working as an effective team.

  • Deal with problems when you are both calm. You may need to set a time to discuss the problem when you have both had a chance to cool down.
  • Remember you are a team working towards a common goal for your child. Stay focused on your goal.

Try this effective communication exercise:

  1. Communicate about the problem first, so that you both have a good understanding of the problem. Use the effective communication exercise, if needed.
  2. Define the problem. Try to keep it small and simple. What do you want to change or address?
  3. Think about a number of possible solutions and list them.
  4. Discuss the pros and cons to each suggestion.
  5. Choose a solution you will use to address this problem – compromise.
  6. Follow-up and see how the solution is working.

For more suggestions, please review the following PDF.

Getting Help from Family and Friends

Support from family and friends can help make breastfeeding a success. Let them know their support matters.

Please visit the Getting Help page for information on Breastfeeding Support in your Community and Telephone Support.

Breastfeeding is natural and babies are born to breastfeed. During the early days after birth, some babies and mothers need time to learn and practice their new breastfeeding skills. What other people say or think may affect how successful you are at breastfeeding. By supporting breastfeeding, your family and friends can help you give your baby the best start in life.

Things Mom Can Do:

  • When you are pregnant and after giving birth, tell your family and friends that you plan to breastfeed and ask them to support you.
  • Encourage them to become familiar with the benefits of breastfeeding.
  • Encourage them to visit this website and the supports in your community.

What Friends and Family Can Do:

Become Informed: Get as much information about breastfeeding as you can before the baby is born. Talk to friends, relatives, other families who have breastfed their baby, and health professionals to learn what makes the breastfeeding experience successful. Explore this website to learn more about breastfeeding and how you can help mom.

Know Where Support is Available: Become familiar with the resources in your community and help the mother access them.

Offer Encouragement: A new mother may worry that she does not have enough milk for her baby. Most women have more than enough milk. Encourage her to breastfeed, as it is the best way to feed her baby. Tell her that you believe in her. Tell her that you are there to help.

Do Not Disturb: Limit visitors, telephone calls, and other interruptions during the early weeks after the baby is born, so that the mother and baby can get to know one another and learn how to breastfeed successfully.

Encourage Rest: A new mother needs lots of energy to focus on the baby. Help with everyday needs such as meal preparation, dishes and laundry. Keep the home tidy and help care for other children.

Help the Mother Care for the Baby: Babies cry for many reasons – not just for hunger. Learn different ways of comforting the baby such as skin-to-skin holding, walking, singing, or dancing. Bathing and changing are other ways to help the mother care for the baby. By comforting, bathing, or changing the baby you can give the mother more time to breastfeed and take care of herself.

Have Realistic Expectations: A new baby changes everyone’s life forever. It is normal to have mixed feelings about these changes. Not supporting the mother may result in her giving up breastfeeding. This will not end these feelings. Breastfeeding will help the family.

Encourage the Mother to Get Help: If the mother feels that things are not going well with breastfeeding, encourage her to ask for help.

Remember That Each Mother is Different: Ask her what you can do to help her.