Dads and other support persons can be extremely helpful with breastfeeding! Here are some ideas for how Dad can help with breastfeeding.
How Can Dad Help With Breastfeeding?
- Encourage Mom to hold baby skin to skin as much as possible. Hold baby skin to skin yourself, also!
- Encourage Mom to nap. Naps are what get you through nights when baby wants to nurse frequently.
- Help Mom with positioning the baby, obtaining a deep latch, and giving her pillow support.
- Ensure Mom has water and snacks, if needed, while nursing.
- Play bodyguard. Everyone wants to meet the new baby and congratulate the parents. But visits often take place instead of naps so be sure to not have too many visitors in one day. Ask them to bring food when they come!
How can Dad help with breastfeeding? Here are more details.
Make skin to skin holding after delivery happen
Encouraging Mom to hold baby skin to skin immediately after delivery and often afterwards is great way Dad can help breastfeeding succeed. There are a lot of benefits to holding your baby skin to skin. Encourage Mom to hold baby skin to skin immediately after delivery. All of baby’s assessments can be done while he is skin to skin with Mom. You may have to help make this happen if there are other family members in the room who are anxious to hold the sweet, new bundle. It is important for baby to latch and finish breastfeeding before being taken away from Mom. This could take two hours.
After delivery, it is important for baby to go skin to skin with Mom and stay there until he has latched and finished breastfeeding. This may take 2 hours.
If Mom is unwell and can’t hold baby skin to skin immediately after delivery, dad should hold baby skin to skin. This will help baby with all the adjustments he’s trying to make to life outside the womb.
Continuing to hold baby skin to skin
Encourage Mom to hold baby skin to skin after that first feeding, also. Hold baby skin to skin yourself, too! Here’s why.
Be an advocate for Mom’s health care wishes
You’ve been talking about your hopes and dreams for this baby for the last 9 months. You know how Mom wants certain things to happen? Make them happen. That is a huge way Dad can help. Mom is not in a good position to advocate for herself so she needs you to step up and help talk to staff about her wishes.
Listen during rounds
You’re both probably sleep deprived when doctors and lactation consultants are rounding. Please listen up. Odds are Mom won’t remember later what they said. Your goal is to be the nurse and lactation consultant when you get home. 🙂
Encourage Mom to sleep
Producing breast milk consumes 25% of the body’s energy. By comparison, t he brain only uses 20%. Mom is recovering from delivering a human being. She is also waking around the clock to keep that small person fed and happy. Our motherly instincts tell us to put other people’s needs above our own. Plus, we have many things vying for our attention (visitors, social media updates, dishes, etc.). Take your sweet, new babe for some skin to skin bonding and insist mom take a nap and go to bed early.
How Dad can help with positioning and latching baby
- Suggest mom get herself comfortable with her back nicely supported before you hand her baby.
- After she’s holding baby, put some pillows under her arms or baby, where she needs the most support. (She should be able to relax her arms without baby moving.)
- Make sure baby’s ears, shoulders, and hips are lined up, baby is tummy to tummy with Mom, and baby’s nose is positioned at Mom’s nipple. This positioning will help Mom obtain a deeper latch.
- After baby has latched, Mom may want you to look at the latch to see if baby’s mouth looks wide open and is covering a large amount of breast tissue. She may want you to gently pull down on baby’s chin to pull out baby’s lower lip if it is tucked in.
- Readjust Mom’s pillow support if needed.
- See if she needs water or snacks.
Play bodyguard between mom, babe, and others
Having a new baby is really exciting. You want to share it with others. However, too many visitors in one day is exhausting for the sleep-deprived new parents and it can overstimulate baby. You only have so much time between feedings and if that time involves visitors, you missed out on an opportunity for rest. Figure out what works best for your family. Consider limiting it to one visiting time a day. Ask a few people to visit at the same time so there is still time for a nap after the next feeding. Or ask people to wait until the next day or week.
When people offer to help, ask them to bring your family a meal or grab some extra groceries for you next time they go to the store. Be creative. People want to help and you want to spend your time nurturing and enjoying your newborn so let them help.
If Mom seems like she’s struggling with breastfeeding, stressed out, or has questions, suggest she call for help. Have a phone number handy or do the calling for her. Remember to call someone who specializes in newborns and breastfeeding! A local IBCLC is probably your best first step.
Bath and tummy time
Bond with babe as you make bath time and tummy time enjoyable for him.
Bond with the other kids
If this is not your first baby, now is a great time to up your attention and silliness on those other kids. Start creating that bond that will help them want to come to you with their questions, big and small, as they get older.
Why do you want breastfeeding to go well?
Check out the benefits to breastfeeding at the American Academy of Pediatrics here.
Thank you so much for helping with breastfeeding! Don’t doubt the role you have. Dads are very influential is whether moms reach their breastfeeding goals or not. Suggesting a call to a lactation consultant instead of suggesting formula can make a huge difference. I’ve seen it with friends and experienced it myself. Dad, you matter. Thanks for helping!