This post was written by Josie Smith RN, IBCLC, LCCE, lactation consultant, Parkview Whitley Hospital.
The big day is here. You and your partner have prepared for childbirth. You’ve learned ways to support her in labor and are undoubtedly excited about your baby’s arrival, but what about breastfeeding? As the father, what’s your role in breastfeeding your baby? You know how important breastfeeding is for optimal health and bonding, but mom is the only one who can breastfeed the baby. So how can you help? How do you fit in? The answer, in so many ways!
After your baby is born, he or she will love spending skin-to-skin time with you. Baby will love the sound of your voice. Your baby will feel safe and secure in your arms. When he or she isn’t hungry, holding and cuddling will be soothing if he or she is fussy and upset. You can also give the baby a bath, play baby games, massage, sing and talk to the baby, carry the baby in a wrap or sling, or go for stroller walks. In fact, the more you get involved in caring for your baby, the more quickly you will develop a strong bond.
Lending a helping hand
Believe it or not, you can even help with breastfeeding. When the baby is hungry, you can make sure mom is comfortable. Offer her a snack, a drink, a pillow or blanket. You can also encourage mom if she's feeling down and offer to take turns getting some extra sleep. You can be the spokesperson for your family. Explain to loved ones, family and friends the importance of breastfeeding, protecting mom and baby from any negative opinions that may be undermining the process. It’s also encouraged that you spend time with mom and baby while breastfeeding. And, if needed, you can get breastfeeding help for mom if/when needed. Moms whose partners support them in their choice to breastfeed are more likely to be successful with breastfeeding.
Keep this in mind
Remember, having a baby and breastfeeding can be tiring, confusing and overwhelming. But it can also be one of the most amazing journeys you will ever experience. Remember, dads are an integral part of the process and everything you’re going through is worth the effort.