Most expectant fathers support breastfeeding and feel that it should be done for as long as necessary. When the father is supportive than 96% of women will try breastfeeding, ambivalent and only 26% will so your partners support is vital!
So what can a father do to help?
- Talk as your voice is very soothing so talk to the baby
- Give your partner time as they will need to recover from childbirth and to get their milk established
- Let mum and baby have a cuddle. This is the best way to learn your baby’s feeding cues
- Give the baby a bath
- Provide food and drink. Breastfeeding can be hungry and thirsty work for mum so a snack or glass of water is much appreciated.
- Let mum rest and take the baby for burping (remember breastfed babies may not burp that much)
- Cook, shop, tidy up, do the laundry
- Screen visitors – its ok to go into your little family bubble for a while to give you all time to bond
- Make sure her breastfeeding area is set up – charger, remote control are handy. Cushions nearby for supporting her back and the baby.
- Have 20 minutes skin to skin time with the baby every day. It increases the fathers oxytocin levels and cortisol (protection hormone in new fathers – not aggression) levels then mum can go and have a shower or coffee or snooze
- Not all babies will want to take a bottle so you may have to try different one until you find one that works for you – just don’t take it personally!
- Her breasts are going to look different – they may be engorged, they may be sore, they may be leaking milk, they be bigger, they may change shape. Don’t say a word about them other than they are lovely.
- Her breasts are feeding the baby so their ‘role,’ has changed. They’re no longer just sexy playthings – they have a function. It is common for women to struggle with seeing themselves as a mother, wife and lover. So just give her time, be gentle.
Remember it can be tough to get breastfeeding going so mums can feel exhausted, resentful, sore and they can also be really busy trying to get things established. The best thing you can do is to just be there to help – take it from me a supportive partner makes a massive difference.