7 Important Ways Dads can Help with Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding a newborn is a time consuming task! Dads can feel frustrated. They’d like to give their partner a break but they are not sure how to help.
There are many ways dads can help to make breastfeeding easier. In fact, research shows that dad’s support is key in ensuring breastfeeding success!
Ways dads can help:
1. Change baby’s diaper before and/or after feeds.
New parents spend 1 – 1 ½ hours a day (!) simply changing baby’s diapers. Taking over this task will give your partner more time to rest.
2. Bring baby to her so she can breastfeed lying down.
Not having to get out of bed to feed at 1:00 am can feel amazing! Get up and bring baby to your partner. Help her position herself to feed in the sidelying or laid back position (see a description and photo of these positions here). Ensure her water bottle is within arms reach.
3. Take charge of burping after feeds.
Burping after feeds is a great time to snuggle your content little newborn. Try burping baby skin to skin against your chest. Baby’s love to hear a heartbeat!
For tips on how to burp, see this post.
4. Look after the household duties.
Breastfeeding is a full time job in the early weeks, consuming at least 8 – 10 hours a day. Nothing says “I love you” like taking charge of the cooking, the clean-up and the laundry.
5. Keep visitors at bay.
Everyone is excited to see a newborn! A steady stream of visitors can be tiring for all three of you. Preparing for and cleaning up after takes a lot of energy. Be prepared to be the “bad guy”, telling visitors you are not up to company just yet. This will allow you and your partner to focus on getting a great start with breastfeeding.
Learn all you can about breastfeeding. Attend a breastfeeding class with her. Breastfeeding is a natural way to feed a baby, but it isn’t always easy.
Help with the research when she has questions. You and your partner can start learning together with our free email series, Getting Ready to Breastfeed. Or, read the breastfeeding posts on our website. We also love the information on KellyMom and La Leche League websites.
7. Encourage her; tell her she is doing a great job!
When new moms are sleep deprived, they may question if they really want to breastfeed. Be your partner’s #1 fan. Point out what she is doing well. Encourage her to calm baby skin to skin.
Please try to avoid telling her she is doing something wrong; a new mother’s heart is very tender. If she is getting criticism or discouraging comments from those around, step in and support her.
What about giving a bottle to let your partner sleep?
We don’t advise it. Giving a bottle in the early weeks can interfere with breastfeeding.
- When a bottle replaces a breast feed, the breasts don’t get the message to continue to make milk. This can interfere with long term milk supply.
- Mom may get engorged (overly full breasts) by skipping a feeding. She will not only be uncomfortable, but she may find it more difficult for baby to latch at the next feed.
- Baby may begin to prefer the bottle, getting hooked on the fast easy flow. (We have seen cases where this has happened after just one bottle!)
Although you cannot physically do the feeding, you play an integral role in breastfeeding. Your help and support is invaluable for both your partner and your baby.
You can learn more about breastfeeding in the early weeks in these posts: How Often will my Newborn Feed? and Breastmilk or Formula… Is there Really a Difference?
Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.
- Register for their FREE email series Getting Ready to Breastfeed.
- Download their app NuuNest – Newborn Nurse Answers and Baby Tracking.