Studies have shown that a partner who is educated and supportive is key to breastfeedingsuccessfully. There is so much fathers can do to support their partner who is breastfeeding. This essential support has often been reduced to asking mum to express so dad can give the occasional bottle but there are so many other things fathers can do to support a breastfeeding mother. Here are a few suggestions gathered from talking to mums and dads, feel free to send us your own.
- Help mum find a comfortable position and pass her the baby.
- Bring your partner a glass of water and a snack, breastfeeding can make you feel very hungry and thirsty. She’s feeding the baby and you’re feeding her! If you’re not a cook, this is a golden opportunity to get stuck in the kitchen and learn some new skills.
- Show faith in her, she is the best mum for your baby. With the lack of sleep, the exhaustion of pregnancy and birth and the hormones, it is normal for her to feel emotional. Don’t hesitate to remind her that you love and trust her.
- If mums are great at feeding babies, dads are great at calming babies and putting them to sleep. Your voice is one of the first sounds the baby can recognise in utero so hearing your voice will be very soothing. Don’t hesitate to cuddle your baby and carry her.
- Mums have boobs and dads have slings. Many dads are worried that by letting mum breastfeed they won’t be able to bond as much with their baby. That’s where baby slings come in. As soon as baby is fed, burp her, change her nappy, and pop her in a baby sling where she will snuggle up against your chest. It doesn’t come any better than that. You can go out for a walk while mummy gets a well deserved nap.
- Protect your partner. All new mums are bombarded with well-meaning and often conflicting advice from friends, relatives and even sometimes health professionals. What you can do is stand by her, do your research too and keep reminding her that you trust her and that she is a great mum.
The question of expressing milk. Some mums may find it helpful to express milk so you can give the baby a bottle every now and then. Proceed very carefully, many mums find expressing tricky and interfering in the natural cycle of regular breastfeeding may affect her lactation, in particular at night. Introducing a bottle might also lead to nipple confusion and if you do need to give expressed milk, it may be better to use a cup.
And remember, after 6 months and when baby is ready, you can start introducing solids and have fun in the kitchen together!