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When that little bundle of joy enters your life, things change dramatically, and for some guys, this can be hard, and they start to feel pushed out and useless. There are many ways you can help, for example, you can change all the diapers and do most of the baths with your babies. But the best time you can make yourself really useful is during the first six weeks.
During this period the mother will be constantly breastfeeding, and that means they will be pretty much stuck on the sofa for most of the day. This is the nesting period, and this was where I was able to help the most. Here are some ideas of how you can make this period pleasant for both mother and baby:
Make sure both are comfortable. The best place we found at the beginning was at the end of the sofa, so the mom is propped up and comfortable, and the baby can lay contentedly in the mother’s lap or on a feeding pillow. Using one of these shaped pillows is perfect for getting the baby into a good position for latching on, but a couple of spare bed pillows would work too.
With a small table beside her or even a basket, a mom can have everything she needs around her: books, magazines, TV guide and remote, stereo remote, mobile phone, iPad or laptop, tissues, extra receiving blankets (lots of those!) drinks, snacks, etc. An over-reliance on daytime TV may develop unless you can provide a stream of new and interesting magazines and books.
Make sure your wife or partner has enough to drink as breastfeeding takes a lot of fluid from the body. This is especially true in the early days as supply is trying to keep up with and regulate itself to demand. So keep the glasses of water, and cups of fruit or herb teas, flowing throughout the day. Decaffeinated tea and coffee can also be drunk in moderation, but even without caffeine they are still diuretics, so be careful.
Provide lots of easy-to-eat food and snacks too, such as cheese and crackers, sandwiches, fresh and dried fruit, toast, or nuts. When you go back to work, these can all be made up in the morning and left in snack containers so they are easy to grab throughout the day. Try to create and prepare healthy snacks. This is the real ‘eating for two’ time, so a few indulgences are allowed!!
When you are home and baby’s asleep (it does happen!), run Mama a nice deep bubble bath, complete with candles and a cup of tea!
Massages are a great way to ease any aches and pains, as it can be hard being pinned to a sofa all day and not being able to move about as much as usual. This will be different after the first few weeks when the baby can be worn in a sling and mama can get active again.
Take over diaper duty and bath time, to give mama a break and a little time to herself, and so you get a chance to bond with baby too. Of course, this can continue well beyond the initial six weeks, as it should. Your best opportunity for those baby smiles!
Most important of all, make sure you tell Mama how much you love her and how amazing and special she is, and give lots of moral support, encouraging her that breastfeeding will get easier as time goes on. Your support is the most essential thing in establishing a good breastfeeding relationship, and believe me, supporting and cherishing both during this period is well worth it.