It’s National Breastfeeding Week and as a father of 2 babies under 18 months, I have some recent experience of trying to support (sometimes unsuccessfully) a breastfeeding Mama. Breastfeeding is an incredibly personal experience/decision, so please don’t put me down as some kind of evangelical ‘breast is best’ Dad, this is just some advice for Dads whose partner has decided to breastfeed, because it can be tough and we can actually help…. a little….
1 – Support
It can be tough in the early stages and I’m told very painful. Encouraging your baby Mama and reminding her what a good job she is doing will go a little way to her not wanting to lovingly place a pillow over your face you in your sleep as she does the 3am feed. On this note, getting up and offering to do the settling/burping so she can get back to sleep is another way to avoid this occupational hazard.
2 – Drinks!
Breastfeeding is thirsty work but being able to make a drink with a baby latched to your boob is tough. I try to help by regularly filling up a big drinks bottle, which a) doesn’t spill if there is no level surface to hand and b) holds a lot of liquid so doesn’t need to be replenished so often.
3 – Cook up some healthy meals
Fairly self explanatory, but a good healthy diet will help Mama’s milk supply and general wellbeing. As above it can be tricky for her to make herself something to eat when feeding baby around the clock. So do what you can to make sure she is eating well, but to be fair, as long as it’s you who is ‘cooking’ it, beans on toast will probably be well received.
4 – Baby must be hungry….
Your crying baby might not necessarily be hungry, especially if they have just been fed. I have been guilty in the past of just handing baby over as soon as he became a bit irritable to the annoyance of Mama. Ask (if you don’t know) when the last time baby was fed. If it was less than an hour or so ago, don’t automatically hand baby over. Try burping, rocking, taking them for a walk etc. Remember, you have just as much ability to settle/comfort baby as Mama does.
5 – Encourage her to pump
Even the most dedicated breastfeeding Mama will want/need a break at some point. When she is ready and breastfeeding has been established maybe encourage her to pump some baby fuel. This means you can potentially do a night feed and give her the gift of sleep, or let her have a night out. If you do give mama a night off, make sure the pump is ready in the morning, as you don’t wan’t to end up in this situation…
Overall though I think it’s just about doing what you can to help Mama and baby, which I am sure we all want to do. Finally, if your baby mama wants some tips on breastfeeding, tell her to have a look at my partner’s blog; The Double Mama and/or her Instagram for loads of advice.
And if you want to see what I get up to with my three boys (can’t promise it’s that exciting) then you can find me on here on Instagram too!