Bosom Buddies: Why Dad should know the Facts about Breastfeeding

Submitted by Courtney on Wed, 02/24/2010 - 00:25

There she is again: sitting with her feet propped up on the coffee table, a pillow squished behind her back and a pregnancy book in hand. She's so incredibly engrossed in this book that she hasn't even noticed you walk in through the door.

“Hey hun,” you move quickly to greet her so she doesn't get up from off the couch. You kiss, she opens her book back up and you hunker down to check out the sports highlights.

Now I don't mean to perhaps over generalize, but the fact of the matter is, women tend to do a whole lot more research into this pregnancy and baby thing than men do. Fetal development, labor, what needs to be done to make the baby's nursery complete... and breastfeeding.

I know, men don't have breasts so men tend to stay way from the whole topic and leave it to the women. But there are actually many things that daddy can do to make the breastfeeding transition easier on mom. Here's what you first need to know:

She will complain

Breastfeeding isn't easy! It's painful, frustrating, and mom's usually feel the stressful weight of making it a success resting solely on their shoulders. All the while their hormones are bouncing off the walls, trying to get back into proper order. It is important to realize breastfeeding is quite difficult in order to completely empathize and help your partner during this potentially troublesome time.

She will need reassurance

Most women quit by the time their baby hits the 6 week mark due to the challenges that come with breastfeeding (such as lack of sleep). No matter what it takes, encourage your partner to keep up with the breastfeeding. Sure, it's not your body and no you have no idea how much pain she's going through. But what you do know, dad, is that breast milk is what is best for your child and that you will do whatever is necessary to keep both mom and baby as happy and comfortable during the process as you can.

Whatever you do, do not bottle feed

There are times, of course, when it will be necessary for daddy to bottle feed the baby, but this should not be done on a regular basis. Mom will need to get up in the middle of the night to feed the baby. If this is really difficult on her, encourage her to use different positions (such as lying on her side in bed with baby while breastfeeding so she can rest) or even stay up with her and entertain her. Misery loves company, right?

Help her in public

Men have no idea just how uncomfortable a new, unseasoned breast feeder will feel the first few times she has to lift up her shirt in public. Stay right beside her, offer assistance (such as holding up the blanket for privacy and helping drape the blanket over her and baby) and don't wander off. Hold her hand and tell her how proud you are that she's doing this selfless thing for your baby. What a great mommy (AND daddy)!

Get rid of the “haters”

For whatever reason, there are people out there who will judge your choice to breastfeed your child. Stick by your partner’s side and defend her choice. This is especially why you need to know the facts about breastfeeding – to both reaffirm your and her choice as well as inform people of the benefits. This will only strengthen your relationship and commitment to one another.

photo by Matt Hains

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