When a family welcomes a new baby, dads often feel excited, overjoyed and, at times, a bit useless. This is especially true when it comes to breastfeeding. But the truth is, there’s actually a lot a father can do when it’s feeding time. Being involved in nursing is helpful during a time when marriages and partnerships are under a lot of stress. Plus, getting into a breastfeeding groove can be challenging for mom and baby, so support from dad is extra important.
How to Get Involved in Breastfeeding
Above all, positivity and supportiveness are key. Beyond that, here are some specific recommendations from doctors and lactation specialists for dads who want to be more involved in the process.
Learn About Breastfeeding
Let’s face it, it can be difficult to be positive and supportive in the breastfeeding process if you don’t know the ins and outs of it (it’s more complicated than you might think). You can read about it, go to breastfeeding classes with your partner, or talk with your partner’s doctor about what you need to know. This can help her feel more confident when nursing. Having a solid knowledge base of breastfeeding terms, potential challenges, and the process itself is an important step.
Understand Common Breastfeeding Obstacles
Understanding common nursing struggles can also help your partner feel more prepared. For instance, she may develop pain or baby may have trouble latching on. Whatever the challenge is, it’s helpful for dad to be aware of it and know how to offer support.
Assist with Positioning
Positioning is a major factor when it comes to breastfeeding. Dads can provide pillows and adjust back support when needed. In addition, mom may not be able to see what’s going on from her point of vision. Dads can be the extra set of eyes she needs to ensure that baby is in a good place for feeding. Remember that it’s more than just baby’s position; mom needs to be comfortable, too!
Offer a Helping Hand
As you can probably imagine, once the breastfeeding process has successfully begun, it’s not a great time for mom to get up and grab a glass of water, an extra pillow, or a footstool! Just being nearby to get her whatever she needs can be incredibly helpful. For example, once the milk is flowing, mom will inevitably become very thirsty, which is very common. Make sure she has a big glass of water nearby and anything else she might need.
Prepare for Diaper Duty
Your baby needs to make room in her tiny belly for incoming food, which means she will poop…a lot. This is a great time for dads to step in and help out. If you’re wondering or worried about what you see in the diaper, here’s everything you need to know about baby poop.
Set the Mood
Lastly, don’t forget that nursing can be quite taxing on the body. While breastfeeding is a beautiful process, it can also be stressful, uncomfortable, and sometimes painful. Help your partner settle into each feeding by setting the mood. Make sure she’s comfortable with the temperature in the room. Fix the lighting. Play music. Offer positive and encouraging words. Do whatever you can to create a peaceful and pleasant environment.
A strong, capable support system is a key to successful breastfeeding. Just because dads aren’t equipped with the right tools for nursing, doesn’t mean they can’t participate in the process!