Are you a new dad trying to figure out how to support your partner with breastfeeding? Or perhaps you’re worried that you’ll miss out bonding with your baby. We’ve come up with 10 tips for new dads to get involved with breastfeeding to support mum and baby.
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10 Tips for New Dads
1. Bond with baby
Dads can bond with breastfed babies better ways than simply changing the nappy. Skin-to-skin contact means stripping baby down to just its nappy and placing them on your bare chest or under your top. The contact with baby is amazing for bonding and help baby to keep calm. Babies who are experienced skin to skin with dad after a caesarean (mum in recovery) were found to sleep quicker and cry less. This bonding experience isn’t just for after birth, you can do it any time, in fact the more the better. Skin to skin is particularly good for dads of breastfed babies as it allows them the closeness mums experience when feeding.
2. Wait hand and foot
Do your best to try and ensure that mum settles for a feed from start to end. Breastfeeding is thirsty work, and you can almost guarantee that as mums sits down and get comfortable she will have forgotten to keep a drink close by. Try to familiarise yourself with all the breastfeeding apparatus such as nipple shields, creams and pillows. So when mum asks you to pass them to her, she’ll be impressed because you’ll know exactly what she is talking about.
Remember to tell your partner just how well she is doing. Being a new parent is exhausting, especially when you’re the only source of food for a little milk monster. Mums who receive support from partners, family and friends are more likely to continue breastfeed than those who are criticised or unsupported.
At times breastfeeding can be very time consuming. Particularly at times when baby is taking a growth spurt, they seem to just be off and then back on again. This can be very tiring for mum, especially when she’s the one doing all the night feeds too. Pick up her share of the household chores such as cleaning breast pumps or occupying older children. When when things settle in a few days she’ll be thankful for the rest and you’ll have earned a few brownie points.
5. Create a nice atmosphere
Having a nice quiet an comfy place to feed is the best way to make both mum and baby feel relaxed. You can set up a breastfeeding station for mum, with all the essential she needs. Make sure there are lots of extras which will make her relaxed such as books, music, the i-pad or even just a chair for you to have a conversation with her. Anything which makes mum feel comfortable and relaxed will help her release milk producing hormones.
This is the part where you need to have a sense of humour. Unfortunately for breastfeeding mum the simplest stimulation to her nipples can cause milk to leak. Understand that this is a difficult time for her to adjust between being mum and being in a relationship, and simply laugh it off. Making her feel embarrassed about the situation is likely to lead to tension in the relationship.
7. Couple Time
Remember to keep your relationship alive, it’s so easy to fall into the parent trap. Make time to speak to each other, eat together and spend some quality time together. That may even mean having a date night once in a while, and getting a friend or family member to babysit and give baby some expressed milk. Try to simplify your life for the first few weeks in order to keep your sanity.
8. Let mum sleep
Offer to take baby out for a walk and let mum get a good rest without waking at every breath baby takes. Ensuring mum has enough rest is essential to keeping her milk in good supply. You might want to get mum to nurse first and then go for a rest as skipping a feed can be uncomfortable and cause engorgement for when she wakes.
9. Hold Baby
Offer to take baby before a feed to let mum settle down and get comfortable. You can check for a dirty nappy during this time, and when mum is ready hand baby over. Some mums find this a lot easier than trying to settle when baby is vigorously rooting on them.
10. Learn about breastfeeding
Try to learn about breastfeeding to help support mum when she needs advice. Learning different positions, checking for a good attachment or researching the best breast pump are all useful. This shows mum you are supporting her and baby in your own special way. It can also come in handy for being mums advocate, especially if family and friends are not being very supportive of breastfeeding.