We talk with breastfeeding experts — and moms — on how a dad can help support his breastfeeding partner.
Breastfeeding a baby is a normal part of parenting a little one, but it can go so much smoother if Mom has great support — especially from the baby’s other parent. What can a daddy really do to help his partner flourish as a breastfeeding mother?
Dad may be tempted to leave Mom alone if he thinks that’s what she needs to succeed, but if he sticks around during the nursing session, he can offer comfort, approval and support. He will be able to watch as she and the baby bond and can help her troubleshoot latch positions and fetch her water, a pillow or a snack. “When I was nursing Avery during the night, Jon would stay awake too and sometimes rub my back,” said Carrie, mom of three. “It made me feel like I had support and wasn't doing everything myself.”
Dads can lift a new mom’s spirits by speaking words of encouragement to her. “Dirk encouraged me so much, especially when I was ill in the hospital after my C-section,” shared Jackee, mom of one. “I was feeling very sick and dizzy and was stuck laying on my side. He helped me side-nurse her by holding her there for me and helping her get a good latch.”
Encouragement comes in the form of actions also. ”My husband has been super supportive of the breastfeeding all along,” explained Talei, mom of two. ”Never suggested I should stop when I had issues. Did all the cooking in the early days.”
Patricia Berg-Drazin, RLC, IBCLC, CST, told us that Dad can play a pivotal role by responding when a baby cries. “When a baby cries and Dad picks the baby up — even if it is to give to mom for breastfeeding — the message to the baby is that they have a voice, and when they call out they can engender a response,” she explained. “Dad is letting his baby know that he or she has a voice that is, and will be heard. He is also developing a bond with the baby by responding to those calls — this is hugely powerful.”
Dad shouldn’t hesitate to share with his partner how awesome she is doing. It can give her a huge boost of confidence to have that love and support directly from Dad. A card can do the same trick, or a text in the middle of the day. “I don't know if it was really support, so to say, but he had no issues and was very proud of me for doing it,” said Lindsey from Michigan.
Yes, breastfeeding is primarily a moms-only activity, but there is so much that a dad can do to support her and turn it into an act of parenting that both can take part in.
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