Breastfeeding is not just giving your baby the best nutritional value, but also a wonderful way for mum and bub to bond and share quality time together.
Dad, on the other hand, can feel left out, simply because he doesn’t have the ‘equipment’ to nurse his baby. Not talking about feeding baby with a bottle…
But I’d say it can be the contrary. Dad can play a very important role in the breastfeeding journey, which does not always come easy. Every bit of support will be greatly appreciated by mum.
Actually, I wish somebody had given me those tips when I had my baby. This would have made it much easier for my mental health and the relationship with my husband. I learned the hard way, by first trying to manage to do everything which had to do with breastfeeding alone.
Only months in, I actually realised that there are so many great ways in which my husband could support me. It did not only free me up and made me happier, but it also made my husband feel more valued. Although the more involvement did mean some more work for him, he was not feeling excluded any longer.
Let Breastfeeding be a Shared Journey!
To Mama: Don’t feel bad for taking ANY help you can get. I was the same. I didn’t want to steal any precious time from my husband, because I wanted him to have enough rest and sleep to go to work the next day.
Only did I not consider that I also have a very important job and this involved day and night shifts of raising this little precious baby.
We can only do so much, without wearing us down. Mentally and physically.
You and your partner are in it together and in the end, this will benefit you all.
Here are my top ten tips about how dad can help with breastfeeding. Don’t forget to show this list to dad, too:
1 – Dad, Attend a Breastfeeding Class with Mum
Preparation is key when it comes to breastfeeding. Especially for first-time mums. Although it is a natural process, it is also a learned skill to master breastfeeding. It certainly was for me. And I was happy that I did attend breastfeeding classes and read books about this topic. But you don’t have to do those alone. Wouldn’t it great to have your partner with you as a support person? Who knows, he may end up teaching you something about this topic afterwards.
And I strongly believe that this sets the vibe for staying strong during tough times when you are actually having your baby and may struggle with nursing your baby. If both sides understand the value of it, it is easier to support each other.
2 – Skin to Skin with Baby
One of the many benefits of breastfeeding is the very important skin to skin contact between parent and baby. Dad can jump in easily. Cuddle your baby on your chest or even try out a relaxing baby massage. It leads to increased bonding between dad and baby.
3 – Tell Mum What a Great Job She Does
Breastfeeding can be really hard. There are countless hours mum spends nursing her baby. Not sleeping enough aside, it is physically demanding. It takes a lot of energy for the body to produce milk. And her nipples are hurting from the constant contact with baby’s hungry mouth.
Mentally, she may worry about not having enough milk supply. Or is stressed with the time she is spending nursing the baby and not getting to do all other things she may like to accomplish.
Simply by telling her, how amazing she is. Telling her what an awesome mum she is and how strong and determined. A loving mother. All those little compliments will mum feel valued and remind her, that she can do it. It is so important for mum’s mental health and her inner strengths.
4 – Bring the Baby to Mum
If it is the middle of the night, you both are sleeping and hear the baby cry for hunger, it would be amazing if dad could get out of bed first and bring the baby to mum for a breastfeed in bed. What a gentleman. Mum would appreciate this a lot.
5 – Burp and Nappy Change
After mum finished breastfeeding, which can take up to 45 minutes in the early days, give her some rest. Do the “After-job” and make sure baby is burped and has a fresh nappy on. This may be just a couple of minutes of work, but in those minutes mum can either just relax or drift back to sleep if this is the middle of the night.
6 – Cook nutritious Food
Breastmilk consists of over 80% of water and plenty of nutritional goodies which your baby needs to survive, thrive and grow for the minimum of the first couple of months and onwards. It with under contains vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins and antibodies. They are made in mum’s breasts and you can imagine this is lots of work the body is going through.
Because the baby eats what mum eats and to keep up with all her nutritional needs, help her cook healthy and nutritious foods. For example look up some easy and healthy recipes, do the shopping or cooking yourself.
Read more about: Breastmilk composition
7 – Support mum with water and snacks while breastfeeding
Because nursing can take a while, make sure mum is well supported with snacks and water. Best snacks are the ones you can eat with one hand, so mum does not need to interrupt the baby while breastfeeding but just eats at the same time. A classic win-win situation. My favourite snacks which are not unhealthy and super easy to eat are:
- dried fruit
- cut up fresh fruits
- lactation cookies
- cheese and cracker
- nut bars (best if homemade because of less sugar content)
8 – Provide a Calm Environment
While it is not always possible, especially when you have several kids running around, it is important that mum can relax while nursing. And the same for the baby, so they can concentrate on feeding. Maybe you can set up a nursing room with a comfortable nursing chair. And don’t forget the snacks and water.
9 – Give Mum a Rest Between feedings.
Entertain and play with the baby in between Breastfeeding sessions.
Even better when you bring mum a tea while you take the baby to play with and entertain while mum can have a couple of minutes to relax.
10 – Give Mum Time to Be Herself
Being with a baby almost 24 / 7 is exhausting. Dad, you may be away for work during the day, so you have your time off. No doubt this is stressful as well, but it is different. Give Mum the opportunity to be on her own or with friends once in a while. This will benefit her mental health.
Mum, you can express milk, which dad can feed in a bottle to your little one while you are out.
Just make sure your baby is accustomed to drinking out of a bottle. Nothing worse then mum finally being on her own and dad calls her to come back because the baby doesn’t know what to do with a bottle.
Personally, I used to feel like being in a breastfeeding prison for the first couple of months. I hardly ever went out. Always wanted to be with my baby and made sure to be home when I had to breastfeed. Only, later on, I dared to just go out by myself, even if just for 1 hour to attend my postnatal exercise or catch up for a coffee with a friend.
How a little time off mama duties can make you feel alive again!