Nursing your baby can be hard on your own. How can dads help breastfeeding moms and work together as a team? Find out here.
For many new moms, breastfeeding would be a whole lot harder without a partner by their side. Even though mom is the only one who can actually breastfeed the baby, she’s certainly not alone in the journey. Support is crucial, especially in the early days when challenges arise and motivation is low.
At the same time, dads can feel at a loss with breastfeeding and how to support their partners. They don’t know what it’s like to breastfeed and might feel awkward. It’s also the only thing both parents can’t equally do. Dad wants to help but may not know exactly how to.
Breastfeeding proved far more difficult than I imagined. The pain was unreal, and I felt tethered to my baby 24/7. I even resented the fact that I was the only one who could breastfeed—any time he cried, I was the only one who could do anything about it.
Thankfully, my husband was a trooper the whole time. While he couldn’t take my place, he did what he could to make the experience easier for me. Even though breastfeeding is a “mom-only” task, consider these six ways dads can show support:
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1. Let mom rest and relax
Breastfeeding releases hormones to help mom relax and bond with the baby. During breastfeeding, allow her the time and space to do just that. Create a conducive environment by giving her what she needs—a nursing pillow, a glass of water, her phone. Tend to your older children so she can breastfeed uninterrupted.
When she’s not breastfeeding, provide opportunities for her to rest. For instance, offer to hold the baby while she takes a nap or a shower.
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2. Bring baby to mom for nighttime feedings
At four in the morning, mom will appreciate you bringing the baby to her so she can continue lying down. This gives her more opportunities to keep resting, especially when she’s going to be up for several minutes nursing the baby.
Bringing the baby to her also offers her the support she craves. She knows she’s not the only one who has to get up in the middle of the night when you’re by her side. Burping the baby after breastfeeding also allows her to rest. Tag-teaming offers much-needed morale right when she can be at her lowest, sleep-deprived point.
3. Change diapers
A dad friend of mine once described his and his wife’s duties: “She handles the input, I handle the output.”
With breastfeeding so time-consuming, dads can help moms reclaim their time by changing diapers. During nighttime wake ups, tend to the crying baby and change his diaper before handing him to mom.
Other awesome things you can do? Wash the dishes when they pile up (even with paper plates and take out dinners). Prepare snacks she can eat while she nurses. Handle household chores, especially strenuous ones like carrying a load of laundry that she may not feel up to doing.
4. Treat mom to something special
Surprise mom with restaurant-style breakfasts of scrambled eggs, pancakes, and orange juice (with a flower on the table!). Or take the baby for a walk so she can enjoy time to herself or relax with a shower.
Newborn days are all about survival mode, but enjoying something completely for pleasure and not because it’s a “must” is rewarding. A special treat breaks the rut she might find herself in, and she’ll surely appreciate the extra effort you’ve made.
5. Remind mom about the benefits of breastfeeding
Breastfeeding has a ton of benefits for the baby, from better immunity to a wider food palate. And mom’s best cheerleader is you reminding her of all the reasons she’s doing this in the first place.
Point out that her breastmilk has antibodies to ward off potential sickness and how much money you’ve saved by breastfeeding. Reminding her of her breastfeeding goals can keep her motivated and not give up.
6. Don’t push or pressure
While reminding mom of the benefits of breastfeeding is key, don’t cross the line to the point of pushing or pressuring her to keep going. Instead, follow her lead.
Ask her if she’d like you to feed the baby with expressed breast milk or formula. If she runs into obstacles like thrush or clogged ducts, support her with whatever she decides to do. While you want to cheer her on with breastfeeding, realize that this is her personal choice in the end.
Even though breastfeeding is a mom-only role, dads can still support in their own ways.
Give mom plenty of opportunities to rest and relax. Change diapers or get up to tend to the baby at night. Pamper her with much-needed special treats, and remind her of the benefits of breastfeeding without pushing too much guilt her way.
With your support, she can continue to breastfeed with confidence and comfort—with you by her side through it all.
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