When your partner breastfeeds your new baby, you can help by being enthusiastic, supportive and knowledgeable.
As a dad, you obviously can’t actually breastfeed your baby. But your attitude and support can be crucial as your partner learns how to breastfeed.
How you can help
• By learning about how breastfeeding works you can be more ‘part of the team’ and support your partner through any early difficulties.
• Take opportunities to carry your baby in a sling, or to just cuddle him. Cuddling skin to skin can help settle your baby and help you bond.
• Bathing your baby can be soothing for her, and a beautiful bonding time for you both.
• Help with housework or cooking. Try to make sure you’re home as much as possible to take care of these things.
• When your partner is breastfeeding, be her extra pair of hands – offer to bring her a glass of water or another pillow if she needs one.
• For night feeds, you can bring your baby to your partner in bed. After the feed, take your child for a burp and nappy change, and settle him back to sleep if necessary. This will be a big help to your partner, even if you only do it for some night feeds, or on some nights.
• Be patient if your partner doesn’t feel like being intimate with you. She might feel all ‘touched out’ if she’s feeding, carrying and settling a baby many times a day.
• Breastfeeding will make your partner hungry and thirsty. You can help by encouraging her to drink plenty of water, and by supplying lots of fruits and vegetables for her to eat.
If your partner has difficulties with breastfeeding, encourage her to seek assistance, as nearly all problems can be overcome with the right information and a positive attitude. However, if you have really exhausted all avenues and your partner still finds she can’t breastfeed, reassure her that it’s OK.
Look for the positives – one option may be for her to express her breastmilk. This means you and your partner can share the feeding, while your baby still gets the best food.
Dr.Richard Fletcher. Breastfeeding: how dads can help. (2016); [cited 2016 Jan 06]; [1 screen]. Available at: URL: http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/dads_help_breastfeeding.html