Ok, as a family you have decided to breastfeed, so that’s it, dad’s job done… over to mum!
Absolutely not! If this is decision you have made, then you need to work together, this is a team activity and your support is crucial.
First up, lets myth bust! Breastfeeding is natural, easy and all women can do it!
Yes, breastfeeding is completely natural, but for the majority of women it is not easy, especially in those first weeks. Establishment of breastfeeding can be a hard process, getting baby to latch properly, demand feeding and ensuring supply, all take effort and can be physically and emotionally draining on your partner. No, not all women can, it is estimated that between 2% and 5% of women cannot breastfeed.
While many dads realize the huge benefits of breastfeeding, a lot of new fathers find their feelings about breastfeeding change after the baby comes. It’s not that dads don’t support breastfeeding and its benefits — it’s just that the whole experience makes them feel a little left out. By following some of my tips and advice, you can ensure you don’t feel pushed out. You will only be pushed out if you don’t make the effort to support your partner and be involved. Also, refer to my tips on antenatal bonding, the stronger your bond is before baby is born the more involved you will feel.
So, as strange as it may sound, dads have a very important role to play in breastfeeding. Here are a few ways you can be involved and support YOUR family:
Top 10 Tips for Dads.
- Plenty of women feel very self-conscious whilst breastfeeding especially in those early days. So man up and get rid of unwanted guests in the house at feeding times. Also if you are out and about, think about the tables you chose in cafes and public places. Make sure she can breastfeed discreetly if she is uncomfortable doing so in public.
- Again your role of advocate is crucial. Defend her feeding choices with family, friends, midwives, health visitors and anyone else that seems to have an opinion!
- Go and get baby for her for those night time feeds, it’s a small thing to do, but worth the effort. Once baby has fed, take baby to wind and settle. This will benefit you both as often you will be able to settle baby quicker than mum. This is simply because baby may still smell milk on mum and fuss.
- Help mum by getting her a feeding cushion and support her position your new baby correctly. In the early days this can be really helpful.
- Get her a glass of water, and place it in easy reach, breastfeeding is thirsty work.
- Bath and bed time is a great bonding time for dads, so take charge of these routines. Make them your time with baby. It will also give mum a welcome break. Here are tips and advice I wrote for ‘Forever Friends Daddy’s Guide to Bath Time Fun’.
- Try and carry your baby in a sling and also enjoy some skin-to-skin contact.
- Remember to compliment mum on how well she is doing and how proud you are of her. Make sure she knows you are doing this together, again deflect any negative comments and support your choices as a family.
- When you have cooked her dinner (you are doing this aren’t you?!) cut it up! It may seem strange, but babies seem to have the instinct to feed just when it’s your meal time too. She’ll appreciate being able to feed herself easily with her one free hand.
- If you have other children or people in the house, keep them entertained and busy so that she can feed in peace without being pestered by possibly jealous siblings, or overly inquisitive friends.
Above all you both need to be involved to make breastfeeding work well. Do not be jealous of that feeding bond mum has, celebrate it! As in all things related to parenting, working together is important, your support is critical and will pay dividends for your whole family.