As a dad/partner, you may not always realize just how important your role is when it comes to breastfeeding. You may even find yourself feeling left out since mom is the only one who can breastfeed your little bundle of joy. However, you have a significant effect on not only breastfeeding but also the well-being of mother and child. Read on to find out more on the importance of your role as well as the different ways you can help out.
A dad’s/partner’s support is crucial
A mom is much more likely to opt to breastfeed if she has her partner’s support. In addition, she’s more likely to succeed at breastfeeding and continue to do so for a longer duration if you’re encouraging and supportive. Knowing that you’re there for her will make it easier to keep breastfeeding even when she’s exhausted or going through difficult or painful breastfeeding issues that may arise.
As you might know, breastfeeding has numerous health benefits, and the longer your partner does it, the greater the benefits will be for your little one as well as your partner. Therefore, by being supportive of breastfeeding, you’re investing in your family’s long-term health.
Top ways to help out a breastfeeding mom
Some of the most helpful things you can do to be part of the breastfeeding experience include:
- Learn about how breastfeeding works
It is of utmost importance to learn how breastfeeding works. Here are some of the key things to know about breastfeeding:
- It’s not always easy and takes time to learn. Finding a good breastfeeding position and getting attachment right is crucial.
- Breastfeeding isn’t always quick. For most new moms, each feeding session can take anywhere from 10 minutes to about an hour. Most newborns feed anywhere from 8 to 12 times a day.
Some of the common breastfeeding issues your partner might face include:
- Too much breastmilk
- Not enough breastmilk
- Sore nipples and nipple infections
- Breast biting and refusal by baby
- Mastitis and clogged milk ducts
If your partner is experiencing issues with breastfeeding, you can seek advice from your GP, child and family health nurse, or midwife. These professionals can also be helpful in finding a lactation consultant.
2. Listen and communicate
Listen and talk honestly about navigating parenthood as a team. Babies can put a lot of pressure on your relationship. Take a step back, try to understand the hurdles you’re facing, and talk about some practical and emotional coping strategies.
3. Be present and available
If possible, take a paternity leave from work once your little one is born so that you can help out as much as possible. While you’re in the hospital, you can ask the medical staff questions on how to help out. Then, when you go home, offer support and keep her company as she adjusts to motherhood and the responsibilities that come with it.
4. Bring the baby to mom when it’s time to nurse
Your partner will highly appreciate you bringing the baby to her when it’s time to feed, especially at night. Afterward, you can burp the baby and give plenty of cuddles.
5. Take care of your partner
Your partner needs plenty of love and care during this time. Be hands-on, and don’t hesitate to help out and ask if she needs anything. Grab the nursing pillow and help her and the baby get into a comfortable position. Place a glass of water and her favorite healthy snacks nearby. Give her massages to ease the tensed muscles and help her relax. Keep her company and engage her in conversations as she breastfeeds the baby. Try to be caring and thoughtful without being overbearing.
6. Take a more hands-on role with your baby
There are many ways to care for and bond with your little one that don’t involve breastfeeding.
- Changing diapers
There’ll be multiple diapers to change before, during, and after breastfeeding. Diaper changing allows close direct eye contact between you and your baby, which is great for bonding.
- Bathing your little one
Bathing your baby is one of the most effective ways to bond, plus there’s plenty of fun accessories to choose from!
- Day out with the baby
Put your little one in a sling, stroller, or baby carrier and go out for a walk. The fresh air and movement have a calming effect on a fussy baby.
- Baby holding
Don’t hesitate to pick your baby up and talk to him/her while she’s awake and alert. At naptime or bedtime, be at hand to rock him/her gently until she falls asleep.
- Skin-to-skin contact
Direct skin-to-skin contact is an effective bonding technique. To achieve this, place your newborn on your bare chest and snuggle together while your skins touch. This type of contact stimulates the release of the oxytocin hormone which is responsible for love and bonding.
Who says you can’t have fun with your little one? When they’re still a newborn or infant, don’t be afraid to get on the floor for some tummy time. You can also try shaking a rattle, singing a song, playing peek-a-boo, or making funny faces and noises. As your baby grows, there's even more you can do during playtime.
7. Help out with the housework and older kids
While your partner is nursing, help out with cooking dinner, doing the dishes, or folding laundry. Breastfeeding is tiring, both mentally and physically, and any bit of housework that you take off her hands can help her sanity. If you have older children, try to meet their needs for healthy food, sleep, and attention. Make sure you also provide fun activities to keep them occupied.
Breastfeeding is good for both your little one and your partner, and your role in it is much bigger than you might assume. Keep in mind that there’s so much that goes into caring for your baby other than just feeding. By being more involved in breastfeeding and your little one’s general care, you’ll not only get to support your partner and encourage her success at breastfeeding, but you’ll also get to bond with your baby and gain more confidence in your parenting role.