August 01, 2019
Six Teaching Activities that Reinforce the Partner Role in Breast/Chestfeeding
By: Sharon Muza, BS, LCCE, FACCE, CD/BDT(DONA), CLE | 2 Comments
World Breastfeeding Week is August 1st through 7th where both individuals and organizations are focused on increasing awareness of the benefits of breast/chestfeeding to baby/parent dyads. There are many public health benefits when breast/chestfeeding is going well that extend beyond the new family into the community and beyond.
Lamaze International acknowledges and celebrates the important role that childbirth educators play in helping the families in their classes be prepared to feed their babies. Research indicates time and time again that partners and support people play a critical role in helping lactating parents to successfully feed their babies. When a nursing dyad has the support of the partner, they are more likely to overcome hurdles and succeed in meeting their breast/chestfeeding goals.
Here are six quick but effective teaching activities that educators can use in the classroom to reinforce the important role of the partner in breast/chestfeeding success.
Nursing supply comfort bag
When a parent sits down to nurse their baby, it is immensely helpful to have a bag or basket of feeding necessities and comfort items nearby and within easy reach. Educators can hand out red and green pieces of paper. As the educator pulls items out of a bag, ask the parents if this item would be helpful to have in a nursing supply kit. Parents can indicate helpful by holding up their green paper or not helpful by displaying red paper. After the educator goes through the entire bag, ask the partners what else might be helpful that wasn’t already mentioned.
Encourage physical comfort
Lactating parents are often in such a hurry to sit down and feed the baby that they neglect their own physical comfort in their rush to latch a hungry baby on. Partners and support people can really help make breast/chestfeeding much more comfortable by moving in and helping to correctly position a breastfeeding pillow (such as a Boppy® Feeding and Infant Support Pillow) or alternately, some bed and throw pillows, to support the nursing person and the baby. In your classes, encourage the pregnant person to hold a doll or stuffed animal in each of the most common nursing positions. Ask partners to move in with pillows they have brought from home and position them to make the nursing dyad more comfortable. Have each pair discuss what feels right. Educators can even encourage the non-pregnant partner to mimic feeding so that the pregnant person can have a hand at placing the support pillows.
Emotional support during a breast/chestfeeding session
Newborn babies can take a long time to eat, and they need to eat frequently. New parents spend a lot of time nursing their babies. Having a partner or support person remain with the feeding parent so they are not alone can be very supportive during these marathon sessions. Educators can invite partners to share one activity that partners would not want to do when the birth parent is feeding the baby.
Be responsible for baby care
Especially during nighttime feeds, partners and support people can consider doing all the baby needs except feeding, so that the breast/chestfeeding parent can quickly go back to sleep. A quick way to cover this point is to have a grab bag of items that represent the type of care the non-nursing person might provide. Consider having a swaddle blanket, diaper, diaper creams, extra outfit, burp clothes, toy rocking chair, and more to represent what those tasks might be.
Thoughtful comments that recognize the effort and time that goes into feeding a new baby human milk goes a long way toward helping nursing parents keep going, especially if there are some challenges. Educators can consider dividing up the class into pregnant people and non-pregnant people and asking them to brainstorm a list of helpful comments that the breast/chestfeeding person would like to hear. Compare and contrast the two different lists as a whole group.
Tap into resources
When things are not going as well, or feeding the newborn presents some challenges, partners are critical in helping to identify and contact appropriate external help. Educators, be sure to provide a current and concise list of local lactation consultants, peer to peer support meetings, lactation doctors, and feeding specialists. Enlisting the support of experts sooner rather than later can go a long way toward maintaining the breast/chestfeeding relationship.
Breast/chestfeeding the newborn can be the next challenge after birth. Having the support, encouragement, and help of a partner in the feeding journey is very important and this fact is supported by research. Educators can reinforce this research and provide concrete examples of how partners can be helpful through these short, quick and effective teaching activities.
Brown, A., & Davies, R. (2014). Fathers' experiences of supporting breastfeeding: challenges for breastfeeding promotion and education. Maternal & child nutrition, 10(4), 510–526. doi:10.1111/mcn.12129
Mannion, C. A., Hobbs, A. J., McDonald, S. W., & Tough, S. C. (2013). Maternal perceptions of partner support during breastfeeding. International breastfeeding journal, 8(1), 4.
Mitchell-Box, K. M., & Braun, K. L. (2013). Impact of Male-Partner-Focused Interventions on Breastfeeding Initiation, Exclusivity, and Continuation. Journal of Human Lactation, 29(4), 473–479.
Tohotoa, J., Maycock, B., Hauck, Y. L., Howat, P., Burns, S., & Binns, C. W. (2009). Dads make a difference: an exploratory study of paternal support for breastfeeding in Perth, Western Australia. Int Breastfeed J, 4(1), 15.
Note: This post is part of a sponsorship agreement between The Boppy Company, LLC and Lamaze International.
TagsBreastfeeding Childbirth education Partners World Breastfeeding Week Partner support with breastfeeding Sharon Muza Breast/Chestfeeding World Breastfeeding Week 2019 Sponsored Post