It’s no secret military families have busy schedules. With all the clever advertisement from formula companies and ready-to-drink bottles available at your closest grocery store, breast-feeding seems out of date and impossible. So here are some tips on how to include the whole family that will help in taking advantage of the benefits of breast-feeding:
1. Work as a team. It’s easy for mom to get overwhelmed and for the rest of the family to feel neglected. Before breast-feeding, have Dad change the baby and siblings gather supplies, so mom can get her water and get comfortable. That means less fussing and fumbling. When on the move, have big brother or sister gather supplies for the diaper bag and have dad unlock the car and turn on the air or the heat. Mom can concentrate on getting baby safely strapped into the car seat.
2. Designate duties. Big sister is the timekeeper and helps wake baby each time her alarm goes off. Dad picks up that one thing — like reast pads, breast milk storage bags or lanolin — you always run out of on his way home from work.
3. Have a routine. If Dad wakes up first, have him get baby ready for a feeding and get Mom something to drink. If Mom’s the early riser, have all of the pumping supplies out and ready in the morning and prepare bottles the night before. For breakfast, have cereal bowls and some cut fruit ready for Mom and siblings. Designate a space in the kitchen, such as a special chair, where supplies can be stored and a nursing pillow can be left. Remember: the less you leave to the last minute, the better. For lunch or dinner, consider a crockpot: an easy way to prepare healthy meals ahead of time.
4. Have family time. Read together, go for a walk to the playground, bake something and include older siblings and have a daily centering circle where the whole family gets together and talks about the day.
5. Eliminate extra work. If Dad’s dinner-time duty is the dishes help him out by rinsing them off first. If Mom does the laundry, help her out by having a designated spot for dirty laundry where it can be pre-sorted, and put it away as she folds it. If siblings are responsible for sweeping or vacuuming, help out by leaving muddy boots and gear at the door. The moral? Take care of each other. Having a new baby in the house is a life experience for the whole family. Become a team and work together. Breast-feeding is the ultimate act of nurturing as well as a great way for the whole family to bond and foster a family-centered environment.