When we talk about the role of fathers in the breastfeeding process, the response we often get is, “But we don’t have breasts so what are we going to do?” “What exactly does ‘nursing fathers’ mean?”
We get it, mothers bear the biological responsibility (and burden if we might add) of breastfeeding. However, there’s a lot that men can do to support their nursing partners. In fact, research shows that a father’s support is a key factor in how long a mother can breastfeed. Therefore, as a man, your encouragement can impact your partner’s success in breastfeeding and stick with it longer.
Here are seven things you can do as part of the nursing fathers crew:
1. Do some research
As natural as breastfeeding is, there’s a lot to figure out so learning is important. The more you learn, the more invested you’ll be and the better you’ll be able to support your partner through it.
Through learning, you’ll know how much babies eat, proper latching and positions, and how to watch for hunger cues. This isn’t just a mother’s domain so find out as much as you can through your doctor, online research, and even breastfeeding classes (we had one last year). It can also help if you talk to other dads who have “been there.”
2. Pamper your partner
Mothers deserve this because breastfeeding can be a chore; it’s good to make them feel special. Refill her water bottle, put on her favourite TV show, get her snacks, or just keep her company — anything to make the process more comfortable. There’s more so the suggestions here are meant to guide you in the right direction.
3. Bond with the baby between feedings
Breastfeeding is an amazing bonding experience for mothers and their babies but you don’t have to miss out. There are plenty of meaningful ways to spend quality time with your newborn. Bottle feed, talk or sing, carry them while playing video games or seeing a movie, go for a walk, give them a bath. Skin-to-skin contact can help you feel connected while providing a source of comfort for baby. Enjoy it.
4. Be there for the rough moments
Breastfeeding is a wonderful experience, but if you noticed, it could come with challenges as explained in an earlier chapter. Your partner may experience anything from inadequate production to latching problems or thrush. She’ll need your support to achieve her breastfeeding goals. Affirm her, go for consultations with her, etc. Just be involved and don’t leave her all to it.
5. Ensure she gets enough sleep
During the first few weeks of breastfeeding, frequent feeding is important to establish an adequate milk supply. Babies feed as frequently as every two hours all day (and night) and this can be exhausting. You can help here. Ensure your partner is less sleep deprived by taking care of the baby between feedings and letting the mom sleep.
6. Control the crowd
This is us just being mischievous, we’re not talking about hundreds of people. However, expect family, friends, and neighbours to visit but you need to decide with your partner how to manage this. Managing the schedule of visits is paramount to ensuring that both you and your partner don’t get overwhelmed. There’s already a lot going on so it’s okay to take visitors in small doses.
7. Support during chores
Chores tend to multiply once a baby arrives so it’s important to pitch in, so your partner has more time and energy to breastfeed. It’s one of the best things you can do.
We know, the concept of nursing fathers is pretty alien and the role of dads during breastfeeding is underrated and not spoken of enough. With these tips, we guarantee that your support would mean the world—to your partner and your new baby.