“If I’m breastfeeding, how will my husband bond with our baby?”
I get this question a lot working as a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor at WIC and while I know that breastfeeding isn’t always easy, having support can be vital for success.
Here’s some ways Dad’s can support breastfeeding and bond with your baby at the same time!
Attend a breastfeeding class: These classes are just as important as a labor/delivery class! There’s so much more to “just latch the baby” in these classes and can be so helpful to getting breastfeeding off to a great start. Not everyone is comfortable with breastfeeding or handling breast milk so these classes can help with information and deciding if this is right for your family.
1st Line of Assistance: Even though Mom is primarily the one feeding baby, Dads, YOU are needed around the clock just as much as mom and this is your time to bond with baby. Breastfeeding can take a lot of work and time, so when baby isn’t breastfeeding-Dad’s you’re up!
- Diaper changing
- Rocking baby to sleep( including having skin to skin time!)
- Comforting/holding baby
- Helping mom with food, water, showers, sleep, pillows, laundry, sleep, housework, sleep, Dr’s appointments..did I mention sleep?? Dad Shane says ” I felt my role was to help out with whatever was needed, especially when she was tired I would step in.”
- Taking care of older children-school drop off/pick up, feeding, having one on one time, giving mom one on one time
Time Protector: As your beautiful, pink, squishy baby enters the world everyone wants to come and visit-and that’s great- but time is essential to breastfeeding in the beginning.
- Help mom get rest by watching baby’s feeding cues and bringing baby to mom to breastfeed
- Ask visitors to wait or set up times for visitors(its okay to ask people to come back later!)
- Breastfeeding on demand is important but sometimes babies are sleepier so having Dad help monitor time between feedings can be helpful to stay on track.
Encouragement: This is the BIG one. Dad’s, after birth there are hormones, fatigue, excitement and sometimes if breastfeeding is a struggle she’s going to need you to encourage her. Many times family or friends unwanted comments and criticisms can hurt, cause doubt or even worry she is doing the right thing. She needs you to be her biggest cheerleader when she’s tired or struggling, that she CAN do it and that you are right there with her.
Greg talks about how he was a support to his wife: I wanted to support her, but knew she was in pain for a few weeks dealing with several issues. She was always determined to continue, but that worried me. I’m proud of the way she handled the pain, and found solutions in order to make it work. My encouragement for Dads would be to always be supportive, but never put pressure on the situation. Always be willing to lend a hand, and maybe try to stay awake & keep your wife company during the late night feeding!
Dad’s you may not be the primary feeder at this point in baby’s life but that doesn’t mean you aren’t needed in many other ways.