Breastfeeding, while natural, is also a skill, which must be learned by mother, baby and you. It requires both practice and patience. Attend a breastfeeding clinic with your partner. Be aware that commercialized infant formula may have some risks.
• Is tailor made nutritional food for the first 6 months
• Protects baby against infections
• Is safe, convenient, economical
• Is healthy for mom (long term)
• Is best for the environment
• Promotes physical and emotional well being of the baby
Breastfeeding is a valuable gift to give your baby. Your active involvement in breastfeeding and support of your partner’s choice to breastfeed assists in determining how long mom will breastfeed.
2. What are your attitudes about a woman’s breasts?
Are women’s breasts only for selling beer, as sex objects? Or do you see them as a source of nutrition for your baby? Do you know that milk production is not related to breast size? The majority of women produce more than enough quality milk. If you have a negative attitude towards breastfeeding, or if your partner thinks you do, she will be more likely to choose to formula feed.
3. Reinforce your partner’s decision to breastfeed whenever, wherever.
Your partner might feel apprehensive in a public place, however, breastfeeding can be done discreetly. Take mom and baby out to dinner, sports events, etc. Romance your relationship and spend time together as a couple, perhaps going out on a date (your partner can express milk ahead of time to be left for baby).
4. Support your partner while she is breastfeeding.
Reassure your partner that what she is doing is important; she may feel overwhelmed during the first few days of breastfeeding. Be aware of her feelings and maintain a positive attitude. Remember, the more often the baby is breastfed, the more milk mother will produce – and the more confident she will become.
Involve yourself with the care and feeding of your baby:
• Bring the baby to your partner for feedings
• Assist and learn with your partner at the first feedings and latchings
• Massage her neck and back to help with relaxation while breastfeeding
• When breastfeeding is finished, burp your baby
• Offer your partner something to drink.
5. Put yourself in the breastfeeding picture.
Be there when your partner breastfeeds, lean close to your baby, gaze into his or her eyes. Being face-to-face with your baby is part of interacting with baby. Spend additional time sitting near mother and baby. Once lactation is established, mom can express her milk and you can feed your baby with a bottle.
6. Before and after breastfeeding, involve yourself with the care of your baby.
• Massage, cuddle, soothe
• Play, talk and sing to
• Walk (use a stroller or a snuggly)
Help keep the household running smoothly, and once baby is fed, encourage your partner to rest or go out for awhile. She needs time to herself. Go skin-to-skin with your baby and let him or her fall asleep in your arms! The more you interact with baby and mother, the more competent and confident you will feel as an involved father.
7. Understand that it is common for moms to experience the ‘baby blues’.
New mothers experience a variety of feelings after the birth of their baby. This might affect breastfeeding; it is not because of breastfeeding. Be patient and encourage your partner to continue with breastfeeding. Help her to deal with uncertainties and compliment her as to the fine job she is doing as a mother. Prolactin, released during breastfeeding, is a mood-enhancing hormone, which helps your partner to feel more relaxed, therefore better able to cope with daily adjustments.
8. Appreciate the intense bond breastfeeding creates between mother and baby.
Breastfeeding is an intense experience for mother and baby. It’s easy for mother to focus on this experience; this is not a rejection of you. You may even feel jealous or envious; it is normal to feel shut out at times. Breastfeeding need not be a barrier to you establishing your own relationship with your baby. Your role as father is important, both in the care of your baby and in the nurturing of your partner.
9. Take care of yourself.
Try to achieve a balance between work, play and family needs. Acknowledge your own feelings – you may feel overwhelmed yourself. Discuss these feelings with your partner. Schedule at time to talk when you are both feeling relatively well rested. Learn to set priorities for preparing meals, completing household chores, etc. As new parents, each of you need to look after your own physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
10. As a couple you breastfeed your baby.
Breastfeeding is a total family commitment. Mom feeds the baby; you nurture your partner. Families play an important supportive role in breastfeeding. Place yourself at the heart of your family, not on the outside looking in.
+1 DADS CAN DO IT!
Believe in yourself and in your potential to be active and caring in your child’s life. Every child deserves a loving, responsible and involved father.
Be there; be involved.
Neil R. Campbell, Ph.D.
Penny Forret, R.N., B.Sc. N. IBCLC
St. Joseph’s Health Care
St. Joseph’s Health Care
268 Grosvenor Street, Box 34
London, Ontario N6A 4V2
Telephone: 1 – 888-DADSCAN