When it comes to breastfeeding, dads can end up as the odd man out. They don’t have the equipment a mom does, so they are often pushed out of the equation when it comes to feeding time. That leads to overworked moms and dads who wish they could participate more.
Experts are clear that breast is best – breastmilk is superior to formula when it comes to your baby’s health and development. So how can dads do their best to support breastfeeding? We’ve got five tips for you – some will help your partner with the stresses of breastfeeding, and one will allow you to participate in your baby’s feedings actively.
Offer Emotional Support to Your Baby’s Mom
For something that is so natural, breastfeeding can be surprisingly hard. It can be difficult to get a baby to find the correct latch, and moms get so tired while breastfeeding so soon after delivery that it can be overwhelming and frustrating for them.
While you may not be able to physically take the load off of your partner, you can help her in other ways. You can encourage her and let her know she’s doing a great job. Remind her never to give up and that you’re in this together.
Not only will you help her stay on track when it comes to breastfeeding, which will help your baby’s overall health, but your partner will appreciate your support too.
Give Your Partner What She Doesn’t Know She Needs
Breastfeeding can be incredibly time consuming, and it can be hard on the body too. Holding a baby in the correct position can cause stress on a mom’s shoulders, arms, and even back, at a time when they are already sore from childbirth.
To help make breastfeeding easier and more manageable on your baby’s mom, offer the occasional shoulder or backrub to take some of the stress and physical pain away. You can even help with the letdown process, which is when the body relaxes enough to release the breast milk. Helping a mom stayed relaxed will help the breastmilk flow easier.
If your partner has had a particularly long breastfeeding session, bring her a drink or a snack to help her keep her energy up.
Bottle Feed with Breast Milk
Once your child has gotten the hang of breastfeeding, it won’t hurt the process to use a bottle occasionally instead of having them nurse from your partner’s breast all the time. For the first month or so though, your baby should stick with feeding on the breast so it won’t become a lazy feeder and expect to be bottle fed all the time.
After that though, you can put the breastmilk in a bottle sometimes and feed the baby that way. At first, your baby might reject a bottle because they are so used to the breast. If that happens, try a different bottle, including some of the breast-like bottles they have on the market now. You’ll get the joy of participating in feedings, and your partner will get a break.
It might be particularly useful to your partner if you take some of the night shift feedings so she can continue to sleep. After so many nights of getting up for multiple feedings, a full night’s sleep can feel amazing for a mom.
Watch the Bottom Line by Checking with Your Insurance
A good pump can make all the difference in the world when it comes to breastfeeding, especially if your partner will be headed back to work soon. Returning to work makes pumping essential if a baby is going to continue being breastfed.
Buying the best performing pump you can find will help your partner do her breast pumping sessions at a faster pace.
But good breast pumps can be expensive, especially when you’re trying to purchase it at a time when you have already spent a lot of money on other baby gear and medical bills. Some insurances will cover some or all of the cost of a breast pump for new parents. While your wife is busy breastfeeding your baby, you can call your insurance company and figure out what you might qualify for when it comes to breast pump equipment.
Guard Against Prying Eyes
One of the hardest things about breastfeeding for some women is how nosey and intrusive people can be about it. When your wife has to breastfeed in public, you can do everything in your power to make her feel more comfortable about it.
You can get her nursing cover out of the diaper bag and help her get it in place. If you know she’s uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public, you can at least make sure she’s well covered when she’s doing it. She’ll appreciate your efforts, and you’ll be doing everything in your power to ensure your baby gets that nutritious, healthy breastmilk.
This blog is part of Fathers Incorporated‘s Drive To Five campaign. The campaign design seeks to reduce father absence by engaging dads at the early stages of their child’s development, which makes them more likely to continue their involvement through all of the stages of their development. For more information visit www.drivetofive.org