In the past, breastfeeding was always considered to be “mom’s job” but many dads today would like to be a part of this wonderful bonding experience. I once read that “breastfeeding is 90% determination and 10% milk production”. While dad may not be able to help you with the 10% production, he certainly can play an integral role in helping you achieve your breastfeeding goals.
1. Stand together
You may have read enough to confidently say that you will exclusively breastfeed your baby. Once you start, though, you may realise that while it was quite simple in theory it’s not always so in practise. This could make you doubt your decision to breastfeed, leaving you vulnerable to pressure. Discuss your breastfeeding goals with your partner before your baby is born. That way, he can help you fight off nursing staff/family members who put pressure on you to supplement with formula.
2. Learn together
The more knowledge you both have about breastfeeding, the higher your chances are of sticking to it. Read about what to expect in the early days of breastfeeding, the challenges you may face and ways you can deal with them. When mommy brain kicks in and you can’t remember anything you read, dad can remind you.
3. At times you will need a timeout
Even though you may have decided to exclusively breastfeed your baby, there will be days when you feel overwhelmed. Suddenly realising that your baby is totally dependent on you for nourishment and survival can be a scary feeling. During this time, dad can spend more time with baby (when it is not feeding time) so that you can take a break to do something else.
4. Stick to a feeding schedule
If you plan on putting your baby on a feeding schedule, dad can help keep you on track. When you are sleep deprived it can become difficult to remember what you initially wanted.
5. Dad can help out at feeding time
While dad may not be able to help breastfeed he can still help with fetching baby, burping and changing diapers.
6. Take over solids
Once your baby starts eating solids, dad can get more hands-on by taking over the feeding. You will really appreciate the break.
7. Dad can play “mom” for a while
If there are other kids in the home it can be difficult for mom to be there for everyone, especially if she is breastfeeding on demand. Dad can pack lunches and help with homework.
8. The little things count
Even just answering the phone or the door or bringing you a snack/water while you’re feeding will be appreciated.
9. Go the extra mile
Dad can provide extra support by recruiting/ hiring extra help (eg. a nurse/family member/friend to help out with breastfeeding issues such as latching; inverted nipples etc.) He can also provide other resources such as pamphlets, articles, books that deal with common breastfeeding issues. (See breastfeeding support below)
10. The weaning process
Mom is going to need more help than ever when it’s time to eventually wean her baby from breastfeeding. This is a very emotional time for both of you and you may need dad to step in and take over during this time.
Breastfeeding support for mom and dad:
- ‘The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding’ by Diane Wiessinger, Diana West and Teresa Pitman (a must-have for every breastfeeding mom and dad)
- La Leche League Sister Support contact details: http://www.motherinstinct.co.za/breastfeeding-support (Sisters provide breastfeeding support telephonically at no cost)
- You can request breastfeeding support/ information from most maternity hospitals.