For new moms pregnancy comes with many changes to the body. In the early stages of pregnancy, a very noticeable change is seen in breast size as the mammary glands prepare to start producing milk for the baby. By the end of the pregnancy, the expecting mom’s body is awaiting the signal for lactation to begin. This will be met with more changes both physically and emotionally as her hormones shift once again to facilitate the lactation process. Establishing a nursing relationship with your newborn can be challenging as breastfeeding is a learned skill for both mom and baby.

Some partners may feel left out of this process therefore it is important to stay involved as much as possible. Here are some ways to support the nursing mother.

Be Prepared with the Basics

In the late stages of your partner’s pregnancy, use books, your health care professionals and online resources such as the La Leche League to educate yourself on breastfeeding. From learning about a baby’s latch and the rooting reflex to conditions such as mastitis, you will be arming yourself with useful tools. If problems with nursing arise, you will be able to have a conversation with your nursing partner to troubleshoot the issues and to know when it is best to seek the help of a professional such as a lactation consultant.

Offer to Help

You may not be able to physically breast feed your baby, however, some mothers may wish to pump their breast milk which will allow you as her partner to help with some feedings. For example, if your partner decides to get some sleep, she may leave a bottle so that you can participate in a night time feed. If she does not wish to pump her breast milk, offer to gently burp the baby after feedings. This is a wonderful way to bond with your baby and will also help her a great deal.

Bring her Snacks and Water

It is estimated that nursing requires approximately 500 extra calories per day. It also requires the breastfeeding mother to stay hydrated. As the day passes, it is not uncommon for the nursing mom to be so focused on her baby that she forgets to keep up with her water intake and meals. Whenever you can, prepare fruit, chopped vegetables, herbal tea and water so that the nursing mother has easy access to much needed fuel.

Communicate with your Partner

Have an open mind about breastfeeding and communicate with your partner so that you can understand her intentions behind breastfeeding. For example, she may have an idea of how long she would like to nurse your baby and perhaps give you an idea of what type of support she would like you to provide. Be encouraging of her wishes and help her out when others with negative opinions on breastfeeding try to detract from her nursing goals.

Get Ready for Physical Support                  

Be hands-on as much as possible. When it is time to feed your baby, support the nursing mother by providing an extra pillow for her back, a nursing pillow for her lap or a stool for her feet. Attend lactation classes with her to learn about the various nursing positions and to get a better understanding of the intricacies of breastfeeding before your baby arrives. When it is time to nurse your infant, if an issue with positioning arises, you may be able to offer suggestions to the sleep deprived new mom. Help out by bathing your baby, diaper changes and try baby massage. These activities will facilitate closeness and bonding with your baby while providing much needed support to your partner.

There are many ways to support a nursing mother and to be involved with your newborn during this great time of transition. If you are not sure how to help it is always a good idea to ask however, these tips are a good place to start.

About the Author

Dr. Olivia Rose graduated from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Nutritional and Nutraceutical Sciences and in 2006, she graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.

In addition to her private practice, Dr. Rose is the director of Fertility Acupuncture Services, a mobile service that brings acupuncture to couples undergoing in vitro fertilization and intrauterine insemination at Toronto fertility clinics. Her special areas of interest include infertility; children and teen health; stress management; weight loss; heart disease; digestive and immune health; skin rejuvenation and pain management. She is a birth doula and has additional training in cosmetic acupuncture and needle-less therapies for skin rejuvenation and joint pain.

Dr. Rose is a sought-after lecturer for community organizations; a freelance writer and mentor to new graduates. She has been interviewed by various media outlets including Global Toronto’s, “The Morning Show”, “News at Noon” and “News Hour”. In her free time, she unplugs at the spa and she enjoys spending quality time with her husband, son and tea-cup Yorkie. For more information on Dr. Rose's practice and special events, please visit -