Give Your Best
You’re a Parent! It’s a big job with lots of rewards. Your top priorities are to make sure everyone stays happy and healthy. As you and your partner adjust to your new roles as parents, talk together often and listen for ways you can help.
Human milk is powerful stuff
It’s best for baby and the nursing parent, and the benefits last for life.
Nursing parents and baby feel calmer and happier.
Baby is healthier and gets sick less often. Human milk has hundreds more ingredients than human milk substitute (formula) that protect infants from illness.
Lowers Health Risks
Baby has a lower risk for infections and stomach problems, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and childhood leukemia.
Children have higher IQs and do better in school.
A nursing parent recovers from delivery faster and can burn up to 600 extra calories a day.
Nursing saves money. Human milk substitute (formula) can cost more than $1,500 a year!
Nursing Parent's Risk of Disease is Lowered
A nursing parent is less likely to get breast cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes, and heart disease (the leading cause of death for women).
The longer nursing parent nurses, the better for both parent and baby.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends nursing your baby for 1 year or longer, and feeding only human milk for the first 6 months. Celebrate when you meet these goals.
Nursing takes teamwork.
Here’s how Partners can help.
Nursing parents whose partners support their efforts nurse longer. And they get more benefits from nursing. Here are some ways you can be helpful.
Make a nursing plan together and set goals. Let them know that you’ll be there to help along the way.
Tour hospitals or birthing facilities together and choose one that supports nursing.
Start learning about typical newborn behavior so you’ll be prepared when baby comes.
Support skin-to-skin time for the nursing parent and baby during the Sacred Hour, the first hour after birth. Even babies who are birthed by cesarean can do skin-to-skin in the first hour.
If you birth at a hospital, request rooming-in so that you and the nursing parent have more time to get to know your baby and settle into a healthy routine.
Get plenty of skin-to-skin time where you cuddle the baby on your bare chest. This is great bonding time with lots of benefits for both of you.
Be on standby to get help for nursing parent and baby as they get the hang of nursing. That means asking a lactation specialist for help. Listen carefully and/or take notes so you can help nursing parent remember the information later.
Make sure nursing parent and baby have private time to nurse and sleep. You may have to ask visitors to come another time, but that’s OK—you’re a parent now!
Back At Home
Newborns eat at least 8 to 12 times a day and sleep only a few hours at a time. Learn what to expect from your baby and how you can adjust your schedule during the early months.
Learn to spot early hunger cues and bring the baby to nursing parent when you see them. It’s much easier for babies to latch on and feed before they get too hungry. This will also help create a strong milk supply.
Let the nursing parent know you’re proud of her. Nursing can be hard. If there are problems, help find some help NM WIC Nursing Support, and remind the nursing parent that it’s worth it!
Small acts make you a big hero. Bring a pillow for comfort during feedings. Make sure the nursing parent has a glass of water and a healthy snack nearby.
You can hold the baby after a feeding until infant falls sound asleep, change diapers, learn how to calm the baby when crying, take care of meals and household chores, and give the nursing parent a break to shower or nap. The nursing parent will be grateful, and you’ll get more time with the baby!
Call In Reinforcements
If you can’t be there for nursing parent, turn to family and friends who have offered to help.
Babies who are exposed to smoke face a lot of short-term and long-term health problems. Don’t let anyone smoke near your baby, and don’t take the baby anywhere smoking is allowed.
Back to work
Your partner needs your support to keep nursing even if planning to return to school or work.
Encourage nursing parent to pump and store milk once comfortable with nursing and producing a good milk supply. She should start pumping at least two weeks before going back to work.
At first a nursing parent may not get a lot of milk but pumping once a day will help build a supply of milk in your freezer to use. When nursing parent and baby are together, regular nursing will keep milk supply up and keep the nursing parent comfortable, too. Visit the Returning to Work (link to Returning to Work or School) or Pumping and Storing Human Milk (link to Pumping and Storing Human Milk) pages for more information.
Nursing In Public Is Protected By Law
New Mexico Law says a parent can nurse a baby anywhere they are allowed to be. The nursing parent will feel more comfortable if you are OK with nursing in public. There are plenty of ways to nurse with privacy even when other people are around.
What If A Nursing Parent Seems Depressed?
Many parents feel depressed or anxious during and after pregnancy. It is not a sign of weakness or that the parent has done something wrong. It is a medical condition that can cause a parent to stop nursing and can have long-term health effects. Here is some useful information from the National Institutes of Health on how to identify the signs of depression and what you can do to help.
Know the signs
You are in a unique position to help your loved one if you see signs of depression, such as:
- Frequent sadness, irritability, or anger.
- Foggy thinking or difficulty completing tasks.
- “Robotic” actions, as if going through the motions.
- Anxiety around the baby.
- Saying they are a failure.
- Lack of interest in activities usually enjoyed.
- Ask about the parent’s emotions.
- Be kind and understanding about the concerns.
- Listen without offering advice.
- Let the parent know that perinatal depression is common and can be treated.
- Encourage the parent to seek help quickly.
- Offer to watch the children to give the parent alone time.
- Provide meals or take care of household chores or shopping so the parent can get some rest.
- Schedule time with the parent outside the house to get away from family responsibilities for a little while.
Let the parent know where to get help
Encourage contacting a health-care provider or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Treatment Locator at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) to find a health-care provider close by.
Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for free and confidential emotional support—they talk about more than just suicide.
Call 9-1-1 if the parent is feeling like they may hurt themselves, baby, or if they are having unusual or extreme mood swings or thoughts.
Learn more about depression and anxiety
Download the flyer, “Talk About Depression and Anxiety During Pregnancy and After Birth: Ways You Can Help” (166KB) from NICHD for tips on how to talk about this and more resources on where to go for help. Get more helpful resources on mental and emotional health support.