Breastfeeding is beautiful, satisfying, awe-inspiring – and also exhausting work Mamas. But there is so much that a supportive Dad can do to help!
1. What Not To Say To A Breastfeeding Mama
“Would it not be easier to just give the baby a bottle?”
“Why do you want to breastfeed anyway?”
“This is your thing, not mine”
A nursing mama is often emotionally invested in breastfeeding. She's also tired and hormonal in the first weeks, and making flippant comments is really not helpful. Telling her she’s amazing and doing a fantastic job, especially when she’s having a wobbly moment, is gold dust. It will give her that little bit of confidence in a sea of doubt, which is usually all she needs.
2. Be A Hands-On Parent
Yes, Mama is doing all the feeds, but breastfeeding is just a tiny part of parenting. There are so many other things you can do to give Mama a break...
✔ Skin to skin cuddles with baby
✔ Play with baby
✔ Carry baby in a sling to comfort them
✔ Take baby out for a walk
✔ Massage baby
✔ Do bathtime with baby
✔ Chat to baby
✔ Show baby the world!
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3. Put Yourself In Her Shoes
Every time she sits down for a feed, especially in the first few weeks, sit beside her for a second and seek out everything in her line of vision which could annoy or frustrate her. If there's a pile of pretty much anything that’s not supposed to be there, get it out of her eye line. Cleaning it up for good would be best practice, but remove it at least temporarily while she’s feeding. The last thing she wants to see is the stuff that’s not being done while she’s feeding her baby.
4. Educate Yourself
Read books and blogs on breastfeeding. Accompany your partner to her antenatal classes and understand how breastfeeding works: the biology of it, the psychology of it. Learn what’s normal, what’s not normal, what’s helpful and what’s not. Understand the common problems and how they can be fixed.
5. Don't Doubt Her
Being a new mom is a huge learning curve. She is already be doubting herself and you don’t need to help with that! What she needs from you is having confidence in her and 100% belief in her amazing body and ability to care for and nurture her baby. Help filter out all the noise from other people’s comments on how hungry her baby is, what feeding schedule she must follow, whether to top up with formula or not. These are her choices, simply be there for her and allow her the space to make them in her own time.
6. Accept That Mama & Baby Are Learning A New Skill
Even if it’s not her first time to breastfeed, every baby is different. There may be ups and downs, good days and tough days. This is normal. There will be days when baby is very demanding and asking for more milk to accommodate their growing needs. There will be days where there is lots of sleep, and days where there is no sleep. There will be tears, laughter, and awe.
7. Feed Her
Breastfeeding takes a lot of energy, and new mamas need to eat often and drink lots of water. Stock up on her favourite healthy snacks before baby arrives and bring them to her at regular intervals so she can constantly refuel. Rule: breastfeeding mamas go from hungry to hangry in a second!
8. Sleep Is An Occasional Bonus
There is a lot of emphasis on babies sleeping through the night. How long or often your baby sleeps is not a sign of breastfeeding success. Babies are hardwired to wake and feed at night. This is because prolactin, the hormone that produces the milk, is at its highest during the night. Successful breastfeeding looks like this: happy baby growing and developing, happy mama delirious with love and exhaustion. A good night’s sleep is a bonus! You can help by encouraging her to get some rest during the day when baby sleeps and working out ways for her to do so if there are other kids around, household commitments etc.
Share these tips with dad-to-be so they can support you on your breastfeeding journey!