Dad’s are so important to successful breastfeeding and they can make or break a breastfeeding relationship. If you and your partner decide you want your baby to be breastfed it is worth talking about it way before baby arrives. I say this in the hope it will go some way to preparing you for what is going to happen, but it will only go some of the way to be honest.
You can think you’ve got your head round it. That baby will need feeding ALL the time, that your sleep will never be the same again, that leaving the house feels like the biggest achievement you’ve made that day. You can get all that in your head, but what no-one can prepare you for is how your going to react to your new breastfeeding baby world. Your life is not your own and neither is your wife or partner.
But you know breast is best, so some internal battling may commence so be prepared. You may start to feel like second best as your partner has eyes for someone else. You may feel redundant as you can’t feed or comfort your new baby. All this talk of expressing is an urban myth as feeding baby alone is enough of a challenge, where on earth do you fit in expressing. So what can you do?
1. Make Yourself Useful Get involved with your baby by changing nappies, doing the baths, taking her for walks to give Mum a bit of rest. It’s not all about feeding even though it may feel like that at first. There’s plenty of other jobs that need doing and as baby starts to go longer between feeds it will reduce in it’s (perceived) significance.
2. Help Mum Make sure Mum has plenty to drink and eats well as breastfeeding is tiring, hungry, thirsty work. Keeping Mum’s energy up will help he with the task ahead, do not under estimate how much it takes out of us. Feeding every hour or so 24 hours a day to get feeding established is no easy task.
3. Have a Plan If It Doesn’t Go Well Sometimes it can take a few weeks before breastfeeding settles down. There can be a great deal of pain and discomfort on the way. There may be tears, and lots of them. Mum will be emotional, tired and possibly ready to throw in the towel in the early hours of the morning. This is when your support is crucial. Reminding Mum it will get easier, to hang on until the morning until she can get some advice or see what Twitter has to say. Support her through it so it doesn’t all feel so bad, remind her she is not failing, she’s just learning how to feed her baby.
4. Read Up Get as much information as possible on the benefits of breastfeeding with posts like this, and the different techniques and positions that can help Mum and Baby.
5. Take The Baby Sometimes Mum might just need a few minutes to gather her thoughts through the foggy haze of tiredness and a screaming baby might not help her do this. If she’s struggling take the baby and give Mum a few minutes to gather herself and start again. It will make all the difference.
6. Be Patient It might be natural and one of the most amazing things in the world but it doesn’t always fall into place straight away while baby learns how to latch on and Mum practises getting baby into position. Be patient, be gentle and be there to share the load as everyone will benefit in the long run.