Breastfeeding naturally creates a strong bond between a mother and her baby. A father can sometimes feel left out, not sure of his role in nourishing this precious new bundle. But there is a lot he can do to help mama and the newborn nurse successfully. In the beginning, nursing mothers are nursing ALL THE TIME. Most newborns need to nurse every 2-3 hours. Some days, they want it every hour. A mother can become overwhelmed and tired as she struggles to meet her baby’s needs in addition to recovering from childbirth. Here, Dad can step in and play a crucial role in helping Mama establish a good nursing relationship with the baby, which will give both of them all sorts of advantages now and later on in life.
Here are 5 things that a father can do to play a part in breastfeeding:
- Use words of encouragement. Breastfeeding can be difficult at first and some sweet words can go a long way. If a father tells the mother she is doing a great job and to keep up the good work, her confidence will increase and carry her through the more difficult times of nursing.
- Help Mama relax. A stressed mama is a not going to be a successful at breastfeeding. To help relieve stress, Dad can give her a back rub while she nurses and bring her some tea. (click here for more ideas on relaxing while breastfeeding)
- Make sure Mama is taking care of herself. With all that goes in the care of a newborn, it is easy for a mother to forget her own needs. A father can help by making sure she is eating a variety of nutritious foods and drinking plenty of water. Filling up her water glass each time she nurses is a huge help.
- Feeding baby an occasional pumped bottle. This isn’t for everyone as pumping can be difficult and stressful in and of itself. But if a mama is comfortable with pumping, a daddy can give the baby the occasional bottle as a little break for mama as well as a bonding experience for him and baby.
- Do a little extra housework. Make it a habit to take over the dishes after dinner while mama breastfeeds the baby. Cook dinner a few times a week or go get takeout. Taking that little burden away from a mother will help her establish a good nursing relationship with the baby.
Numerous studies have shown that the more support a mother gets, the more successful she is as breastfeeding her baby. Fathers are a crucial part of this support. They are usually spending the most time with mother and baby. If you need further guidance on how Dad can play a role in successful breastfeeding, call a lactation consultant or your doula. They will have plenty ideas and be ready and willing to help.