When a couple brings home their new baby, it can often feel like a majority of the baby’s needs fall on mom. But, dads play a critical role in supporting mom and baby during this time and can dramatically help in mom and baby’s breastfeeding journey.
Dads, here are some things you can do to help:
- Help mom relax. She might be stressed and anxious about learning to breastfeed, and those hormones inhibit milk flow and production. Offer a back or foot massage to help her ease any tension.
- Set mom up with snacks and water. It’s really important that mom stay hydrated and nourished so that her body can focus on making milk and healing from birth. Set her up on the couch or in bed, wherever she’s most comfortable, and stock her up on her favorite snacks and lots of water. Coconut water is great for hydration, and foods high in healthy fats and protein benefit both her and baby. This is especially important during growth spurts, when all baby will want is to nurse, nurse, nurse.
- Take over diaper changes. This is a great way for you to have some one-on-one time with your little bundle of joy. They need frequent diaper changes in the early stages, so it’s a great opportunity to play with and nurture baby, take some responsibility off of mom, and bond. This will give mom a few minutes to rest and recharge for that next nursing session.
- Ask for help. If you have family and friends nearby, they are probably eager to help, but don’t know what to do. If someone says, “just let us know if there’s anything we can do to help,” take them up on their offer! Ask them to come over to help with meals, laundry, dishes, cleaning, anything you and your wife do on a regular basis. Cuddle with mom and baby, and rest, while friends and family take care of your chores. There are few opportunities for you to escape the day-to-day worries, take advantage of this special time, and let your loved ones help you out.
- Be mom’s biggest cheerleader. This is a critical time in mom and baby’s breastfeeding relationship – the more they nurse, the better mom’s milk supply will be and the more confident mom will be in nursing baby. Keep encouraging her, help her find breastfeeding resources if she starts to feel like something is wrong, and protect her from any negative comments about breastfeeding from others. If she starts to doubt herself, let her know that you’re here to support and love them.
Dad, you are so important in helping your new family grow. They can’t do this without you! Here are more helpful resources for you to build your confidence and knowledge base:
- “The role of practical and emotional support from fathers is an essential ingredient to successful breastfeeding, increasing the mother’s confidence and enabling her to maintain an adequate milk supply. Recognition that breastfeeding is a family issue benefits everyone. When difficulties encountered by mothers are shared with their partners, babies will have a better chance of receiving breast milk exclusively for the recommended six months, and with complementary food could continue to breastfeed for two years or more.”
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2788531/ www.newdadmanual.ca/index.php www.llli.org/FAQ/dad.html
“Just that encouragement, you know when your partner says you’re doing a good job in those early days when you’re feeding for 40 minutes or an hour, I found that really helpful.”
“He got up during the night and gave me cuddles when I was in tears, and my nipples were cracked and sore and bleeding, that was really helpful.”