If you’ve dedicated yourself to exclusively breastfeeding your child, one of the most common dilemmas you might encounter is how to increase your milk supply. While there are herbal supplements, lactation goodies and various other techniques that might help, there is new research from New Zealand that strongly suggests the lactation aid you need is the one you sleep with every night. Yup, your husband can supposedly help boost your milk supply with one simple act: he makes you dinner.
Sounds too good to be true? Angga Rahadian is a masters student at the University of Waikato and her thesis "specifically focusses on improving exclusive breastfeeding rates, where babies are supported only by breast milk for the first six months of life." Based on her interviews with Indonesian mothers and fathers (Rahadian is originally from Jakarta, Indonesia) about the father’s role in breastfeeding, Rahadian found that when it comes to improving exclusive breastfeeding rates, when there is enough psychological and physical support from the father, milk production and breastfeeding success increases.
“Physical support is like massaging the wife when they feel tired and cooking or doing household chores,” Rahadian says in an interview with New Zealand broadsheet Waikato Times. These simple tasks make the mothers "feel rested and give her time to focus on feeding her baby."
Psychological support includes fathers educating themselves on breastfeeding and helping to protect the mother from negative comments from family and friends. Even something as small as asking mom what she wants for dinner can already be a big help.
While Rahadian's research is not the first to make the link between the role of dads and breastfeeding success, it emphasizes the fact that moms really need a strong support system if they want to continue nursing for a longer period of time. After all, breastfeeding is a huge commitment and moms will face various challenges throughout their journey.
International board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) Joyce Ann Zaragoza-Martinez, who did pre- and post-natal counseling for celebrity mom Mariel Rodriguez, encourages all partners to have the same dedication to breastfeeding as their wives. “Husbands are there not to breastfeed but to give 100% support to their nursing wives,” she says in a previous SmartParenting.com.pharticle.
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Because moms are so vulnerable after birth and may not be prepared emotionally on the hurdles of breastfeeding, Zaragoza-Martinez stresses that instead of giving negative comments, “moms should receive empowering words to protect her desire to breastfeed.”
That protection can also come from dad, as Rahadian’s research suggests.
“My husband’s support has been essential to the success of my breastfeeding experience, especially during the first two weeks after delivery. I was struggling with balancing postpartum pain, sleepless nights, and uncertainty of whether or not I was breastfeeding correctly,” says mom Kaye Abellon in another article.
And if a nursing mom is feeling overwhelmed, remember that there is no shame in asking for help. Apart from your husband, there are various support systems you can turn to online and in the real world.
Bing Sugue-Guevara, a mother of two boys and a founding member of Breastfeeding Pinays, says, “Find your tribe, your community, because this community will be your cheering squad and give you encouragement, be your shoulder to cry on and be an ear to listen.”