10 ways dad can support you in breastfeeding
From the Team at DadsAdventure.com, whose mission is to see all dads go from anxious to excited about forming a strong family with mom.
Dads play a big part in shaping their baby’s development and well-being, and they play a major role in mom’s well-being, too. Studies show dads who are actively supportive in this realm play a big part in mom’s breastfeeding success. Here’s how:
10 ways Dad can actively support you in breastfeeding:
1. Get Educated
Before childbirth: Dad has time to get the lay of the breastfeeding land, check out videos, and attend a breastfeeding class and prenatal appointments. Together, you can talk about your goals for breastfeeding, possible challenges, what kind of support you might need, and local resources (lactation consultants, breastfeeding support groups).
After childbirth: At the hospital, Dad can jump right in advocating for your needs and requests, checking in with the nurses, and making sure a lactation consultant is brought in to answer any questions and offer support.
2. Advocate; AKA Lion at the Gate
At the hospital and at home, it’s hard to learn the ropes and focus on breastfeeding with a room full of relatives looking on: too much pressure and no privacy. So Dad can be the guy to manage friends and family and clear the room when needed. If you run into breastfeeding challenges (and most moms do—that’s why there’s a whole profession to help!), Dad can google solutions or make calls to get the lactation support you need.
3. The Home Set-Up
Wherever you end up breastfeeding the most will take on a life of its own. You’re seated there for so many hours a day that having a comfortable space is a huge plus: Dad can be the Grand Architect of Your “Breastfeeding Station”! He can make sure you’ve got a comfortable chair or corner on the couch, support pillows, a blanket, light, your phone and charger, and the remote control. Also, breastfeeding makes moms thirsty and burns calories; Dad can make sure you’re eating and staying hydrated, keeping you stocked with snacks and drinks within reach
4. Assist with Positions
Dad can see a breastfeeding baby from a different angle, and he may have suggestions for you on positions or how you can get more comfortable. If he’s there when you’re getting lactation help, he may remember key points that you didn’t hear or remember. If he took notes, all the more reason to be grateful he’s on board with you.
A recent study showed that the more relaxed a mom is during breastfeeding, the better her baby fed and slept. Dad can be an excellent source of relaxation and give you a neck or foot massage, play calming music, burn an aromatherapy candle–whatever makes you feel relaxed.
6. Pre/Post-Feeding Support
Before a feeding, Dad can bring Baby to you and help you both get settled into position. If your little one is melting down, it’s hard to get a good latch, so Dad can calm her down before you try again. After a feeding, he can take charge of burping, changing, swaddling, and getting Baby back to sleep. As one dad pointed out: “You’re responsible for what goes in, and I’m responsible for what comes out.”
“I made sure, every time I heard him, it was like an alarm clock and up right away. I would go in and get him ready then bring him in so my wife didn’t have to get up. She breastfed and I slept for thirty minutes or so while she fed then she would wake me up, and I would get him ready and put him back down. Honestly, do as much as you can to help. It’s the best thing in the world because the bond I have with him now is incredible. Absolutely incredible.” New Dad
7. Feeding Teamwork
Once you have breastfeeding down, Dad can give you a break (and maybe some extra sleep!) by handling bottle feedings with pumped breastmilk—a massive help, especially at night. It also gives Dad one-on-one time to gain confidence as a father and bond with Baby.
8. Gear Care
If you’re pumping and/or using bottles, there’s no shortage of gear to clean. Dad can take charge of this department and make sure everything’s washed and ready to go: a major time-saver.
9. Household To-Dos
Babies breastfeed anywhere from 8 to 12 times a day, often for up to an hour, which means it’s hard to get other things done. Cleaning, laundry, meal prep, errands—there’s loads Dad can do to keep the house running, which frees you up to focus on feedings.
10. Emotional Support
Most important of all…Having your partner’s daily encouragement, especially when you hit bumps in the road, is huge. Studies show dads who are active in supporting their partner in breastfeeding had a positive influence on Mom and Baby’s experience. Having Dad sitting with you, understanding the challenges, and sharing in the experience makes all the difference. It shows he’s committed to doing everything he can to support you in making breastfeeding as positive and successful as possible.
“Having the support of your partner goes a long way. Because when I was willing to give up, it was nice for my husband to be right there to encourage me and give me tips.” –New Mom
Go for it, Dads! You can play a bigger part in shaping your baby’s and the mom’s development and well-being as they tackle their breastfeeding journey. And if you need help, don’t hesitate to ask for it.