By Erin Rodriguez, Lactation Counselor
When it comes to breastfeeding, many times dads feel helpless or even useless. Of course, dads cannot actually breastfeed a baby, but they can definitely be a part of the experience. Here are a few things dads can do to be involved with breastfeeding.
- Dad needs to offer support to mom by affirming her amazing role and selfless act of breastfeeding the baby. Being mom’s personal cheerleader can keep her going if she is having trouble or if she is doubting herself. Often times women give up on breastfeeding because they feel they do not have the support they need. Dads can offer additional support and encouragement by locating resources to help mom if she becomes discouraged.
- The baby should never be placed at the breast when he/she is crying since this could lead to a bad and painful latch. In this case, dad can place the baby in skin-to-skin contact with himself, which will help calm the baby down and allow mom to become comfortable and relaxed for the baby’s feeding.
- Recognizing feeding cues from the baby can assist mom with calm feedings. When a baby starts to root (placing his hands by his mouth) or turning his head towards the side, these are signs that he/she is hungry. Dad can assist by picking up the baby and making skin-to-skin contact and informing mom when the baby is ready to eat.
- If mom has been able to pump and store her milk, then dad can help by feeding the baby a bottle of breastmilk, giving mom a much-needed break. This will allow her time to perhaps get a little extra sleep or even take a shower. However, mom may just want to pump instead, to upkeep her milk supply, but either way, it provides a little “me time” for her.
Dads are very important to the breastfeeding experience and play a big part in helping mom achieve her goals for breastfeeding. Additionally, this involvement will help bring dad closer to his partner and to their baby.