6 ways dads can help support with breastfeeding
How can a Dad help to support his partner when breastfeeding a newborn baby? Here are the top six ways, from Daddilife, about how to help with breastfeeding.
You probably don’t need any convincing about your partner’s decision to breastfeed your new baby, especially as it’s an option not always available to mum. You know the benefits of breast milk and want to be as supportive as you can be, but it's mum that produces the milk and does the feeding and by doing so continues the bonding process. I know there are times where as a new dad this can make you feel left out and even jealous of the relationship your partner is building with your newborn. Please don’t allow it to. No matter how difficult you are finding things, your partner will be going through much worse in all likelihood, particularly given she needs to constantly make the milk which is a physically demanding process.
As a dad you have a vital support role to play that will help reassure your partner that she isn’t on her own. Breastfeeding will be so much more fulfilling for her if she knows she has your support, particularly when the going gets tough. Here are six ways you dads can help throughout.
1. Do your homework
If you and your partner have made the decision that she will breastfeed your new arrival, do your research about breastfeeding. Don’t just listen to negative stories from friends, colleagues or others, instead get hold of some of the best books for new dads to get more all rounded advice. For some mothers, breastfeeding comes easily. For others, it can be an ordeal that gets better gradually with time. You need to accept this.
Mum may experience some pain and feeding sessions might seem to last an inordinately long time, particularly as babies need to feed between 8 and 10 times in a 24-hour period. In fact, life can sometimes seem like one long baby feeding session. If it feels like that for you, how must your partner feel? Your job is to remain positive throughout and to allow that positivity rub off on her. She will cope better and all three of you will, ultimately, get the benefit.
2. take the strain, use your brain.
No matter how you have managed your household chores in the past, you are likely going to need a re-think. Take over the tasks your partner has traditionally done to give her time to concentrate on bedding-in the new feeding regime. Maybe you need to learn a few new skills, such as ironing, or even brush up on your cooking techniques. If so, then it’s a small price to pay for the difference it can make. Be as supportive as possible, and make sure she is getting the rest she needs. There is no harm in pampering her, making her feel special. This will help her through the difficult times and help ensure that breastfeeding continues longer than it might do if she felt she was on her own.
The period after the birth of a newborn is difficult for all, but particularly your partner. It’s new and challenging, and it’s so important to keep the communication channels between you open. Listen to what your partner has to say, encourage her to tell you how she is feeling and what else you might do to help her and baby. There will inevitably be times when she feels down. You need to try and stay positive. Tell her she is doing great and bolster her confidence. If you are having difficulties and reservations, perhaps she doesn’t need to hear them right now, find another confidante for a while.
4. become chief nutritionist
While mum is busy making all that breast milk, you may need to take over as chief cook and bottle washer. There will be times when your other half just doesn’t feel like doing or accompanying you on the weekly grocery shop. You are quite capable of doing it yourself. Buy good, wholesome food that your partner likes, plenty of fruit and vegetables. Be on hand as much as possible to check whether she needs a snack or a drink. You will be amazed at the difference it can make.
5. become an integral part of the baby’s feeding routine.
Mum produces the milk and baby suckles, not much you can do about that unless your partner is expressing milk using a pump, in which case you can also do the feed. If the baby is on the breast, then you can make sure you understand the weaning schedule and you can come in before and after feeding. Making sure mum is comfortable and ready to feed, bringing baby to her, providing reassurance. After the feed, take baby and burp him or her before doing a nappy change and perhaps settling baby back to sleep. If the child isn’t due a sleep, take some time out with your son or daughter to give your partner a break.
6. timeout for you both.
A new baby can be all consuming and will fundamentally alter your relationship, at least for a while. You are no longer the centre of each other’s attention as baby has taken centre stage. You are both trying to come to terms with the consequences and in addition, your partner is coping with hormonal changes and the challenges of breastfeeding. Is your sex life and level of intimacy going to change? You bet! Thinking your partner no longer finds you attractive or wants to punish you for putting her through the ordeal of childbirth is a great way to feel sorry for yourself, but of no practical help.
Accepting that things in the bedroom are not going to get back to whatever is normal for you both for a while. Don’t pressure her or get frustrated if your amorous advances are spurned. It’s never just about sex. Talk openly about each other’s feelings, share together the special moments with your newborn. Take it on yourself to arrange for some time out for you both; perhaps a perfect date night once a while where you can get a responsible family member or friend to come and babysit for a few hours.
Inevitably the baby is going to need another feed again soon, but at least you can get some quality time at your local restaurant, or do something else you both enjoy that gets you focused back on each other, if only for a short while.
Daddilife is one of the top parenting blogs for Dads, and all content is written by Han-Son, dad of one. For more articles about how dads can help with breastfeeding, the best dad jokes and also everything to do with being a Dad, head over to the website!