Often times pregnancy is a time filled with excitement, nerves, first time jitters, exhaustion and love. It’s also a time in which we typically decide what our parenting journey will look like (ha! If we only knew). You think about things like, will you bottle or breastfeed? Will you co-sleep or sleep train? Will you stay home or apply for daycare? But, as we all know parenting rarely happens according to our plan even if we take the classes, read the books or listen to our friends. In preparing for the new baby, one of the main things I think we miss as a society is how incredibly helpful the support spouse can be to the pregnant and postpartum Mother. Just because you aren’t birthing the child doesn’t mean you’re any less valuable or helpful. It really does take a village to raise children in today’s world, and your village often starts within the walls of your own home. Let’s talk through some pivotal ways the spouse can support the breastfeeding or bottle feeding postpartum Mother.

Words of Encouragement

Have you heard the term parent guilt? It’s this strange little monster that imbeds itself in the new parent shortly after delivery. It pops up at the worst times, for things we normally wouldn’t feel guilty for prior to become a parent. Guilt for things like – taking a 15 minute shower instead of a 5 minute rinse off. So, you take time to shampoo your hair but now you feel guilty about being away from your baby for that extra 10 minutes. Guilt for going grocery shopping alone while your spouse stays home with the baby, which is much easier but the baby missed you and was fussy and your spouse was stressed. Guilt for putting your child in daycare instead of quitting the job you worked so hard to obtain after wearing your self thin for that degree. The thing with parent guilt though, is that it’s not rational and in turn, you can’t reason with it. So what do we do when theres a monster we can’t combat? We fight it with kindness of course. This could look like; making a coupon book for your partner that is full of “free passes” for things like; a bubble bath, a lunch date, solo shopping trip, etc. That way she can cash them in when she feels up for it. This may help alleviate the guilt associated with taking a little me time. Words of encouragement could also mean writing sweet and encouraging notes and leaving them in places only she’ll find i.e. in her favorite coffee cup, on her brush, in her robe pocket, etc. Sometimes all a new Mother needs to hear is – you’re doing a great job. That one little phrase can turn her whole day around. Ultimately you know what your spouse likes so get creative in finding ways to support her through words of affirmation and love. You won’t regret it and she won’t forget it.

Diaper Changes

This one almost seems silly to write because the first few days in the hospital, typically the support person is already handling the diaper changes while Mother is recovering. But, being on diaper duty can extend well beyond just the hospital stay. This can be incredibly helpful to the new Mother as she can be juggling a multitude of hormones, feeding routines, new parent pressure, etc. Taking the lead on this can be a big stress relief for Mom- and bonus points if you check for wet/dirty diapers before she has to call for you. You can do it!

Prepare Infant for Feeds

One of the most supportive ways a spouse can help a new Mother who is breast or bottle feeding is to prepare the infant for feeds while Mother gets ready herself. Before a baby is offered a bottle or brought to the breast, it can be a good idea to change their diaper and burp them. This ensures your infant is comfortable, clean and has had a chance to remove gas from their previous feedings. While you’re getting babe ready, Mother can be grabbing her water cup, her breastfeeding pillow, or warming up the bottle. That way when Mother and infant come together for a feeding they can be successful and you helped!

Burp Infant After Feeds

Now that the Mother has finished feeding baby, you can offer to take him/her and burp them while Mother puts away her breast or bottle feeding supplies. This is also a good time to score some skin to skin time with baby, or assist them in preparing for that post-meal nap. Again, being hands on with things that give your spouse time to breath is the goal here.

Clean and Sanitize Pump Parts

This one can seem a little daunting after seeing all of the parts, but I assure you if you ask your spouse to walk you through the proper cleaning techniques you can handle this task! They can all be hand washed and left to air dry most of the time with sterilizing once a day to ensure you limit bacteria! If your spouse is pumping regularly, you washing the pump parts can limit the time spent pumping, shortening the time between milk removals, often making Mother feel less like a milk maid. Don’t be intimidated to jump in and offer help here!

Reheating Milk for Feeds

When our Mom is exclusively pumping she is making a big sacrifice for her family. Pumping often takes out the cuddle time, cuteness and pleasantries of breastfeeding and can fill them with feelings of mechanics. It doesn’t take long to become worn out, stressed and exhausted from pumping. So being hands on with feedings can be another great way to support and encourage the breastfeeding Mother. A milk warmer can be your best friend by reheating milk evenly and quickly. Sometimes our littles don’t like to wait for feedings so if you can assist Mother in watching for infant feeding cues, and start prepping the bottle before fussing starts, this can be a huge help. In addition to just reheating the milk you can suggest alternating feedings with Mother to ensure she is resting and resetting in between feeds as well.

Sibling Outings

A little bit of alone time can go a long way for the new Mother, and something as simple as taking the older siblings out for a walk or a library visit can do wonders for the overstimulated Mama. The house is a mess, the kids are squealing, the baby is too distracted to eat and is now fussing…see how quickly things can snowball? When in doubt- take them out! If even only for a stroll.

Breast Massage

This one is particularly important in those tender first few weeks when breastfeeding is being established and we often deal with clogged ducts, engorgement and sometimes even mastitis. Massage it can be a great way to connect intimately with your partner while supporting her breastfeeding journey. Finding a comfortable position like sitting behind her while she leans back on you can be very supportive and calming for Mom.

Keep Her Hydrated

Staying hydrated is important for all of us, that’s nothing new. But sometimes when you are so busy giving your all to someone else, it’s the little things we forget. Snag her favorite cup, a refreshing beverage you know she’ll love and do your best to keep it full throughout the day. If you find this too daunting, check in with her to see if she’s craving a special drink or coffee order, have it delivered of stock up the fridge for the week.

Keep Her Fed

A woman who is producing breastmilk should be supplementing her diet with 500 extra calories a day, and they really do need them. Breastfeeding not only takes calories directly from the Mother but also bone density (and possible even some sanity). So, avoid those hanger moments and stock up a “Mommy Snack Bar” hidden out of hands reach so ensure she always has what she needs.

Callie Counterman
Callie is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant who enjoys empowering other women through all things breastfeeding, chestfeeding and beyond. She’s been working closely with Mother and Infant dyads for 7 years now and eventually took her love for lactation to a new level, opening Mooch Lactation in the Fall of 2023. When Callie is not working as a Lactation Consultant she is spending time at home on her farm with her son’s Wyatt (2014) and Walker (2016), and her Father. The farm life is the sweet life, according to Callie. She and her family rescue animals together, and offer sanctuary to over 19 various animals including donkeys, goats, chickens and pigs, cats and dogs. Although she was born in a small Southeast Texas town she moved to Austin as quickly as she could! Her weekends are mostly filled with chauffeuring her boys to sporting events and birthday parties but she does still make time for her favorite hobbies including watching all things Bravo with a nice glass of wine. Callie is thriving in this new season of life, after loosing her husband to cancer in 2021 her family has struggled to find a new normal but as with any major setback, there is an opportunity for a bigger comeback, and comeback she is. Callie states that she feels blessed every day to parent, work, love and lead with laughter and kindness at the forefront. You can find more on Callie online @Moochlactationco.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here