Breastfeeding is an important part of the special relationship that develops between mother and baby. Where does dad fit into the picture? As the father of a breastfeeding baby, you can be involved in nurturing both mother and baby.
A new baby is a major milestone in a couple's life. You will want to be close to your family at this important time. As an employee, you may want to check about parental benefits available to you. Your partner and your new baby need support as they learn to breastfeed together.Fathers who view breastfeeding as best for the health and well-being of both the baby and mother, will create a tone that supports achieving success. Did you know that a mother's success in breastfeeding can affect her confidence in herself? You can help boost confidence by praising her efforts and offering words of encouragement.
Learning how to breastfeed a new baby and providing physical energy and attention to the process is a full time job. The first six to eight weeks of breastfeeding are the most challenging. For a mother to do this work, some one else has to attend to keeping the household running smoothly. Taking the lead will give her the rest she will need to breastfeed well.
Fathers can be involved in baby's care in many ways. Whenever possible, bath, massage, cuddle and sooth the baby. Go skin to skin with your baby. Let your baby hear your heart beat and feel your breathing pattern. Let your baby fall asleep on you. The more you interact with your baby the closer you will become.
As a practical matter, fathers who are committed to supporting breastfeeding recognize that breastfed babies need to accompany their mothers whenever possible. This may include restaurants, movies, shopping trips, visiting friends and meetings. Support your partner in breastfeeding whenever and wherever the baby wants to nurse. A mother may especially need an ally when there are unsupportive family members, friends or strangers present. Your partner may feel apprehensive about breastfeeding in a public place. Your presence next to her sends a very strong message to strangers who might interrupt her.
Fathers are very important too! As a couple you both can be involved in breastfeeding your baby. Being there at the beginning can make a world of difference in becoming comfortable with your role as a father. It will put you at the heart of your family. Breastfeeding is a family commitment.
Written by the Public Health Nutritionists of Saskatchewan and supported by Public Health, Sunrise Health Region.
If you have any comments or questions please contact: Heather Torrie, Public Health Nutritionist, Sunrise Health Region, 150 Independent Street, Yorkton, Sask. S3N 0S7 or phone: 786-0600.