The list of positive outcomes associated with breastfeeding grow every day. For the child, a few advantages are that it reduces the rate of childhood obesity, lessens the chance of diabetes later of life, and reduces the chance of leukemia. For mom it reduces the chance of ovarian and breast cancer, has been shown to have positive cardiovascular outcomes, and reduces the chances of Postpartum Depression. However, with all of these positive points, it can sometimes affect the family dynamic, leaving dad feeling left out, unconnected, and unhelpful. This does not and should not be the case though; Dad plays a significant role in the breastfeeding journey and is no longer just something that “the women” should be concerned about.
Partners are crucial to the success of breastfeeding. Here are a few ways to be supportive and be part of the process:
– Learn how to breastfeed (okay, so we understand that you cannot actually breastfeed) by going to a local class you can help your partner when times get tough, you can help problem solve and boost their confidence.
– Make breakfast/ lunch and/or dinner. Where there is not a vast calorie increase necessary for breastfeeding moms, food is essential! Also, just offering to fill her water can help.
– Help with household tasks. It is awesome to know the little things are getting done. This reduces stress and allows mom to focus on feeding, especially during the first few crucial weeks when setting a pattern and learning the basic mechanics.
– Know where to get help and talk to your spouse when you see that trouble is arising. Knowing where or how to get in touch with a local lactation specialist, and using those resources increase the chances of meeting your breastfeeding goals.
– Be supportive. Things have changed for everyone. You are probably the person you partner trust above most. Having your support will not only increase the chances of success, but it also looks good on you. Nothing is sexier than a dad who loves their child!
Often dads worry that that breastfeeding may interfere with their ability to bond with baby. Where breastfeeding does take up a lot of time, there are other ways that dad can not only bond but further support his partner by giving her time to nap or take a shower (or other things that they’d like to get done.) Here are a few ways for dad to bond with the baby that isn’t feeding related:
– Bathing baby
– Skin to skin time
– Changing diapers (which are way less stinky when breastfeeding)
– Getting outside with baby (bonus bonding if using a baby carrier)
– Baby massage
– Being involved in tummy time and/or infant play and development
– Singing to baby
– Bonus: getting baby for night feeding, then changing them, and putting them back to bed afterward, is a great (and appreciated) way to get involved in the feeding process!!
The breastfeeding journey is beautiful, but in the beginning, it can be daunting. When your partner is supported, they are more confident, that confidence increases the duration of breastfeeding, therefore increasing the odds that your child and wife will be healthier in the future. Dads support during the duration of this journey is undeniably important.