You and your partner have been talking about breastfeeding, and it’s a fantastic opportunity for you to form a special connection with your baby and for your partner to become a breastfeeding champion for your little one during those early days.
Being a breastfeeding support system can be a demanding job, but it’s a fulfilling one. You’ll both get to enjoy the fruits of your labour as you watch your partner and baby thrive together like two peas in a pod
Here’s some top tips on how you can become a valuable breastfeeding support system.
Why choose to support breastfeeding?
Your partner’s breastmilk is a nutrient-rich formula tailored specifically for your baby’s growth and development. It’s like a custom-made elixir for your little one to thrive and kickstart their journey in life. It plays a major role in protecting your baby’s health. Babies who are not breastfed may be more susceptible to infections and stomach bugs. If your partner breastfeeds for the first 3 months of your newborn’s life, it is said that it significantly helps their immune system.
The Department of Health advises mums to breastfeed for six months and to continue breastfeeding if they can when their baby starts eating solid foods. As well as being good for your baby, breastfeeding also helps protect your partner’s long-term health. The longer she feeds, the greater the benefits, as it lowers her chance of developing certain cancers, heart disease, and obesity. When your partner breastfeeds your baby, it can facilitate bonding between them while also stimulating the release of oxytocin, which benefits both your partner and your baby.
So, How does your partner’s breastfeeding impact you as a father?
- Breast Milk is free, and it never runs out. Infant formula is expensive, so you can save your pennies.
- You don’t have to sterilise and wash any bottles and teats while your partner is feeding your baby.
- Your baby’s number 2s aren’t nearly as offensive compared to formula-fed babies.
- Your baby’s less likely to get constipated than if they were formula-fed, which may mean they’re easier to settle, which means earlier nights for you!
It’s essential to be aware that your partner will require your consistent support during breastfeeding. She may be stationary for extended periods throughout the day and will appreciate any assistance with food, drinks, and physical comfort.
What do I do while my partner is breastfeeding?
There are some basic needs your partner will need to have met for her while she performs the womanly art of breastfeeding your child. There are also extra bits you can pick up to take some of the pressure off.
- Nappy changing and baby burping: Dads can take on the roles of nappy changer and burper to give mums a break and allow them to focus on breastfeeding.
- Meal preparation and housekeeping: Dads can help keep the house clean and well-stocked with food, so mums can focus on taking care of themselves and their babies.
- Night-time feedings: Dads can take on the responsibility of night-time feedings if they are from a bottle, allowing mums to get some much-needed rest.
- Running errands: Dads can handle running errands such as food shopping, picking up prescriptions, and taking care of other household tasks.
- Being a sounding board: Dads can be there for their partners to listen and give emotional support during this challenging time.
Doing the above will make a significant difference to your partner during her breastfeeding journey.
What are some ways I can make up for not being able to breastfeed myself?
As we’ve covered already, being supportive and considerate of your partner while she is breastfeeding, especially at first when it can be hard work, should be a priority. This is when you can take on a large share of the jobs around the house and make sure she has everything she needs while she’s feeding.
After your baby’s been fed, you can then come into your element by being involved in your baby’s care. You can:
- Be their entertainment.
- go for a walk with them
- Carry them around the house in a sling.
- Cuddle them
- Feed them expressed milk from a bottle.
Don’t take it personally if your baby seems less than interested in taking a bottle from you at first. With a little persistence and patience, your baby will take to you in no time.
If your partner is going through a tough time and breastfeeding is proving to be challenging (which can be a common occurrence), you need to be a source of emotional support and remind her of her capabilities. If you have any doubts or questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to her midwife or health visitor for guidance.
Look after yourself, too. Get some family members involved if both you and your partner need extra help. A support network is important, especially in the first few months as you both adjust to parenthood.
What about bonding?
Bonding is another important thing to consider when your partner is breastfeeding. She’s getting all the skin-to-skin action, and you also need to get your fill.
The time you give to your baby is essential. Skin-to-skin contact with them will help you build a close relationship. Holding your baby next to your bare chest will give you and them the same feel-good oxytocin boost that your partner gets when breastfeeding. Just make sure the rug is under control first!
Your partner will probably be grateful to have a break from feeding, especially in the early days when your baby is constantly attached to her. After a feeding, request that your partner hand over your baby for a cuddle. Because you don’t have the distraction of leaky milk-filled breasts, your baby may settle more readily in your arms, ready for that oxytocin hit.
Fathers have come to realise the importance of breastfeeding for both the mother and the child. Not only does it provide essential nutrients for the baby’s development, but it also helps to bond the mother and child and can even have positive effects on the mother’s mental and physical health.
While breastfeeding may not be possible or practical for every family, fathers need to support and encourage their partners to breastfeed if they choose to do so. We, as fathers, play a crucial role in creating a supportive environment for breastfeeding mothers and ensuring the best possible outcomes for our children.
Want to learn more about how you can be a breastfeeding and pregnancy pro?
Head over to Dadology’s website to become the ultimate dad-vocate!