As a mother that didn’t give birth to our baby or breastfeed her I know only too well the desire to get involved in feeding. After all a newborn will feed many times each day, sometimes for quite long periods of time and for the non-breastfeeding partner it might feel like you don’t get to spend much time with your baby. Especially when you have to share the precious times in between feeds with every single visitor that comes through the door. Some of whom you might be only too happy to share with and others you downright resent!
Understandably you want to get involved in the feeding. This is what your baby wants & needs – to be fed. Your baby is content when he feeds and satisfied afterwards – so it makes perfect sense that you would want some of that too. The obvious answer is to have your partner express some milk so you can take one of the feeds. Or maybe even give baby some formula so mum can have a proper rest.
That’s the perfect solution right?
Wrong! That solution is very far from perfect. I urge you to research this point further but here’s a top level list of why mum should continue to breastfeed rather than express or top up with formula:
- Breastmilk is produced on a supply & demand basis – baby demands, mum supplies, interfering with how baby is fed has a massive impact on mum’s supply
- Mum’s prostaglandin levels are highest between the hours of 2am & 6am. Therefore taking a night feed will also impact her milk production as the hormones will not be stimulated during the most important part of the day
- In the early days if a baby is fed from both the breast and bottle this can lead to confusion and some babies may end up preferring the bottle – often bottle fed babies get the milk quicker so this means they might get frustrated whey they actually have to work for the milk at the breast
- Studies have shown that mums who exclusively breastfeed actually get more sleep than those that combination-feed
So what can you do?
It’s important to realise that feeding is not the only way to bond with your baby. Bonding happens when our body produces Oxytocin – this happens when we touch & have eye contact. So all you need is to be able to produce this lovely hormone to ensure you & your baby bond. In fact there are loads of other ways that are probably more effective and completely satisfying for you, your baby & your beautiful breastfeeding partner than feeding with a plastic bottle. Speaking from experience, here are my top tips…
Skin on skin
No doubt you’ve heard this before, but skin on skin is equally as important for you as it is for your partner. In those first few glorious weeks get your kit off (and your baby’s) and all three of you snuggle up in bed. Baby needs to get to know your scent, your touch, your skin too. Your heartbeat helps to regulate baby’s just like mum’s does. Your temperature will regulate baby’s and keep him warm. The scent of your baby will make you fall head over heels in love each time you smell him – smell & kiss his head at every opportunity!
Snuggle up during feeds
When your partner is feeding, give her a cuddle or a neck massage, or some lovely light stroking. This will help her relax and help with milk production. And snuggle up! Snuggle up so you can see your baby and stroke or touch baby while he’s being fed too. That way you don’t miss out on any of those cute little noises or expressions.
If your baby is sleeping in the same room as you or even in your bed, then have your baby in between you & your partner for some of the time so that you are in close proximity even when sleeping. Be sure to follow safe sleeping guidelines!
Even though your baby doesn’t need to be bathed very often in the early days, you can always top & tail your baby daily. Make this your job and make it into a routine. Many babies love this intimate time. And you can even take a bath with baby – be sure that your partner passes your baby to you in the bath though as it’s not safe to get in & out of the bath holding your baby. The temperature should be between 36-37 degrees. And if your baby poos in the bath, laugh!! And then take a shower. It does happen on occasion and it is a bit gross but it won’t do you any harm and it will definitely give you something to laugh about.
Changing the nappy
When I first heard that nappy changing was going to be a big part of bonding with my baby girl I was actually a bit offended. I thought my partner got all the lovely cuddles, feeding, eye contact and I couldn’t help thinking I’d got the short straw! But I was so wrong. Changing the nappies became some of my most favourite times with her. She was mainly very content on her changing mat and this turned out to be a place where she would first interact with a toy, give lots of eye contact, lots of smiles, giggles, she even grabbed her toe for the first time [happy baby pose… check out my perfect yogi baby here LINK]. If I lay down next to her she would look at me and gurgle like she was telling me a really important story. I treasure these nappy-changing times – I wish someone had explained to me that it would be fun and just how much joy it would bring so I could have looked forward to it instead of feeling short changed!
You don’t have to be a trained masseuse to massage your baby. Simple light stroking will work great to help your baby feel connected to you.
Massaging doesn’t always have to be a full body massage, although this is lovely! And you don’t have to use oils or creams every time either. Just a little leg massage or tummy massage through clothes will be lovely for both of you.
Or get a baby massage teacher to come to your house to show you a few things. This is a great way to get confidence in massaging your baby.
Sing to baby
This doesn’t come naturally for everyone! But babies love being sung too, they love singing voices – even yours!! You can sing anything to your baby – it doesn’t have to be nursery rhymes. I’ve been known to sing Kylie & Madonna regularly and last week it was Stevie Wonder’s ‘isn’t she lovely’ that I couldn’t get out of my head.
Talk to your baby – in your real voice using real words. Tell your baby how your day has been, whatever you’re doing now (for example, I’m going to take you downstairs because it’s morning and we’re going to the park later etc) You can read to your baby too. Your baby loves to hear your voice and hearing real words will help him to develop his language skills. If your baby makes noises at you, you can make those same noises back. Always wait for your baby to finish what he’s saying. By responding in the same noise your baby is being reassured that his attempts at talking are good and right and will continue to experiment with sounds.
Dress your baby
Get involved in choosing your baby’s clothes and dressing them. This can follow on from the nappy changing but it’s a great time to sneak a little massage in there too.
Wear your baby
Babies love to be carried. Fact. There are many reasons for this, but in short they love the closeness, the warmth, the scent, the constant rocking motion. When you wear your baby there’s an overwhelming protective feeling that comes over you. It’s truly beautiful. Your baby should be close enough to kiss their head, and as you smell your baby, those pheromones will kick your bonding hormones into action. Babies sleep really well in a sling, and you can actually get stuff done! To top it all off, when people seeing you carrying your baby you will get lots of attention – I guarantee everyone will coo and smile and comment on what a great parent you are and how cute your baby is. Gush ☺
If any of this sparks interest and you to find out more, I can help with…
- Wearing your baby
- Baby massage & baby yoga
- Postnatal yoga for the new mum
- Postnatal massage for the new mum
Get in touch on 07792 184 844