Real Dads Help Breastfeed Too
A father’s impact is a crucial factor in breastfeeding success – and no, you don’t have to bare your man boobs (although snuggling your baby against your bare man chest is highly recommended)!
p>The bonus to a Dad’s help with breastfeeding is that there is no greater investment in your relationship than a partner who nurtures the new mum so she can rest, heal and focus on the intense needs of your newborn.
This doesn’t mean you’ll get a romp in the sack any time soon, and that shouldn’t be your motivation: having a tiny being latched on for hours as mum and baby learn to breastfeed can mean she feels ‘all touched out’ so she’s likely to flinch if she thinks every hug from you could be an advance towards something more intimate. Soon, she will be avoiding cuddles that would be nurturing for both of you.
However, by being supportive and considerate now, you will be filling up your relationship tank with loving feelings and goodwill. Remember, resentment can brew when new mums feel isolated and unsupported by their partners.
So, how can a father help with breastfeeding?
• Remember whose boobs they are. I’ve seen (and heard from mothers) that too many new dads seem like little boys who don’t want to share their partner’s attention – or breasts.
Although it may be unintentional and could be due to concern for a partner who is struggling with breastfeeding, fathers can sabotage breastfeeding by suggesting it would be easier to give bottles. Or they may see the intimacy between mother and baby and feel that by feeding baby with a bottle, they could share this closeness too.
Breastfeeding works on the supply and demand rule: the more milk your baby drinks, the more milk the mother’s breasts will make. If she skips a feed, her body won’t get the signal to produce milk for the next feed. It could also lead to blocked ducts from being ‘over full’; this can cause mastitis, which will make her feel extremely ill and require medical help.
• Bond without bottles – in fact, there’s more eye contact in changing a nappy!
There are lots of ways to share precious time with your baby: open your shirt, bare your man chest and snuggle your baby against your bare skin; burp or settle him after feeds or when he has a belly ache; have a bath or shower together; make him laugh and ‘wear’ him in a baby carrier (this will get you lots of attention from admiring ladies!).”
• Love up your lady. It might look as though she is just sitting around all day, but it takes a lot of energy to make milk and nurture a baby – even the easiest baby will take nine hours of basic care each day!
Tell your partner what a great job she is doing, thank her for being so committed to nourishing your baby by breastfeeding, bring her snacks and drinks and ask her, ‘what would be helpful right now?’
If the new mum is struggling or anxious about breastfeeding, offer to call in a lactation consultant - some will visit you at home and they can trouble shoot and help very quickly. Otherwise, many maternity hospitals offer lactation clinics where they will help mums get on track with breastfeeding. This can make a huge difference for you all.
If you help her relax and focus on breastfeeding now, your baby mama will get the hang of it more easily, breastfeeding will take less time and be a really convenient way to feed your baby. It will save money too! Best of all, your partner will remember that you were there for her when the going was tough. That’s a big investment in your relationship that will last long after the breastfeeding season.
Lighten up - we know that just as your partner is adjusting to being a mum, you are finding your way with your new role and responsibilities being Dad. Things will get easier for both of you. A good mantra for when the going gets tough is 'this too shall pass''. And, just for a grin, take a look at this clip from the movie 'Meet The Fockers' - we don't expect you to be this 'helpful!'!