Blog, Lactation

A Dads Role in Breastfeeding

So you think breastfeeding is a mom only thing? Not quite. Dads don’t have to be totally excluded from this practice. While mom is nursing, dad can help support her and the baby in other ways that foster a healthy breastfeeding relationship. Support is a huge factor in the success of mom and baby’s breastfeeding journey.

Before Baby

Supporting your breastfeeding partner starts before the birth of your baby. Being prepared and educated on how breastfeeding works is a big help once the baby arrives. Your understanding can help your family reach their breastfeeding goals and your ability to jump in to help mom and baby can go along way in those early days of nursing.

  • Talk with your partner about how you would both like to feed your baby. What are your goals? What are your plans long term to ensure you reach those feeding goals?
  • Attend a breastfeeding class to prepare.
  • Watch videos on hunger cues.
  • Understand engorgement and have things in place to help deal with discomfort before the baby arrives.
  • Have snacks prepared in advance for when mom comes home from the hospital. Breastfeeding hunger is the real deal.

Once Baby Arrives

The first hours, days, and weeks of breastfeeding can be stressful. While you might find it difficult since you cannot physically nurse the baby – there is so much you can do to help support mom in those early days.

  • Pay attention when the lactation consultant comes to visit in the hospital (or any time really). Mom is so exhausted so having a second pair of ears is really helpful when she can’t remember what the lactation consultant recommended when it is 2:00 am and she is having a hard time latching the baby.
  • Help mom with positioning the baby and grabbing pillows for support.
  • ALWAYS make sure mom has water in hands reach that is already opened to go. Breastfeeding makes you sooo thirsty and it is important mom is replenishing herself with lots of water to make more milk!
  • Ask if you can bring mom a snack while she nurses. Or her phone or something to read. Some nursing sessions can last quite a while.
  • Provide lots of encouragement and resources. Recall what the lactation consultant told you before you left the hospital or pick up the phone and call the breastfeeding hotline when things aren’t going perfectly.
  • Burp and change the baby. This can give mom a break between nursing sessions to change, shower, or even just run to the restroom in peace.

Once Established

Hopefully after those few initial weeks, your partner and baby have gotten into the routine of things. It can take a little while for both of them to figure out how this whole thing works and what works best for them as a pair. At this point in the breastfeeding journey, your partner’s supply should be well established but that doesn’t mean issues can’t arise. Your support can be key to continuing the breastfeeding relationship until your family’s goal. I found that once we had just gotten into the swing of things I was having to return back to work which brings a whole new set of challenges. Here are some ways you can support mom and baby after those initial weeks…

  • Help by cleaning and sanitizing pump parts at the end of the day
  • Offer words of encouragement and appreciation for the time and energy your partner has dedicated into continuing to provide breast milk.
  • Offer resources if a problem arises. Calling in help or running to the store for any breast milk supplies she may need like new pump parts or lactation drinks.
  • Bring the baby to mom in the middle of the night so she can nurse then return the baby back to bed. That way mom can also get some sleep and isn’t responsible for all the night shifts, especially if she is going back to work and can’t nap during the day.

While breastfeeding can sometimes make you feel like you are missing a piece of the parenting role – your support truly makes a difference in your partner’s breastfeeding experience. Support can help extend breastfeeding and ensure baby is getting all those wonderful benefits!

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