Just because the baby’s daddy can’t physically breastfeed doesn’t mean that he can’t play an active role in the process. In fact, having dad involved in breastfeeding can play an integral part in a mother and baby having a successful nursing experience. In return, dads who help with breastfeeding feel more connected and helpful rather than ignored and helpless.
Here’s how you (or your partner) can play a more active role in the breastfeeding process:
Lend a Free Hand (Because She Sure Doesn’t Have One!)
Having papa around while mama is breastfeeding means having a valuable extra set of hands at the ready. If dad can anticipate what a mum needs him to got and grab before she needs to ask, even better.
These are some things a breastfeeding mum would likely want dad to do while she’s snuggled with the baby on the couch:
- Grab the TV remote/her phone/a book/ANYTHING to pass the time
- Bring her a snack/meal/drink
- Do some much-needed chores (or chores you know she will prioritize over napping and self-care)
- Fetch her a blanket or a sweater if she’s cold, or help her remove them when she’s hot
- Give her a much-appreciated massage
Help Her Troubleshoot Breastfeeding Issues
Latching issues, sore nipples, mastitis, engorgement – these may all be things happening to mum and not dad, but that doesn’t mean dad can’t actively help alleviate these pain points.
If a mum is having troubles with latching, dads can investigate different holds, and how to encourage bubs to open their mouth up wider, so they have a better chance of achieving a great latch. If mum has sore nipples, dad can look up what can help, and then provide the solution. Even learning how to use a manual or electric pump (and cleaning it for her after use) is extremely helpful to a sleep-deprived mum, who is possibly in pain, and likely spending several hours tucked away with baby on the couch.
Another way to help her troubleshoot breastfeeding issues is to find helpful resources locally and online. Articles are great, though it may be worthwhile finding where a local lactation consultant is located (your OBGYN, midwife, or doula will likely be able to connect you with one).
Support Her Feelings and Encourage Communication
Having a newborn in the house is hard for both mums and dads. Of the two parents, mothers most often feel the greatest amount of strain simply because they feel that they are solely responsible for the feeding and therefore the health and well-being of this new tiny human they have brought into the world.
If a mum says she’s tired and frustrated, figure out what you can do to help her feel better. Sometimes picking up the baby and giving mum the opportunity to have a hot shower is all she’ll need. Other times she may want to go out for a walk with dad and the baby. This can be relaxing for all three, but dad should push the stroller so mum has some “baby-free” time.
It’s important to honor a mother’s feelings as she adjusts to this new period of her life. If she feels uncomfortable or insecure feeding in public, for example, a dad should support that and find ways to allow her to feed discreetly and comfortably (like hooking her up with some new on-trend breastfeeding clothing from Peachymama!).
It takes time for a new mum (and dad!) to feel confident in this brand new stage of life known as “parenthood”. But with dad’s support and care, the relationship between both parents will deepen in new and beautiful ways you never knew were even possible, and your baby will be all the happier for it.