This week, we hear from Siobhan, author of the parenting blog, The Double Mama.
"One of the things my partner does without recognition is support me with my breastfeeding. I am passionate about breastfeeding and he has been amazing. I persuaded him to share his tips for other Dads so they can feel a little less useless if their partner/wife decides to give it a go! So mamas if you’re breastfeeding or planning to, just share this little guide on providing breastfeeding help with your other half…"
As a father of 2 babies under 18 months, I have some recent experience of trying to support (sometimes unsuccessfully) a breastfeeding mama. Breastfeeding is an incredibly personal experience/decision, so please don’t put me down as some kind of evangelical ‘breast is best’ Dad, this is just some advice for Dads whose partner has decided to breastfeed because, it can be tough and we can actually help…. a little….
It can be tough in the early stages and I’m told very painful. Encouraging your baby Mama and reminding her what a good job she is doing will go a little way to her not wanting to lovingly place a pillow over your face in your sleep as she does the 3am feed. On this note, getting up and offering to do the settling/burping so she can get back to sleep is another way to avoid this occupational hazard.
Breastfeeding is thirsty work but Mama being able to make a drink for herself with a baby latched to her boob is tough. I help by regularly filling up a big drinks bottle, which a) doesn’t spill if there is no level surface to hand and b) holds a lot of liquid so has to be replenished less often.
3. Cook up some healthy meals
Fairly self-explanatory, but a good healthy diet will help Mama’s milk supply and general wellbeing. As above it can be tricky for her to find time to eat herself when feeding baby around the clock. So do what you can to make sure she is eating well, but to be fair, as long as it’s you who is ‘cooking’ it, beans on toast will probably be well received.
4. “Baby must be hungry…”
Your crying baby might not necessarily be hungry if she/he is crying, especially if they have just been fed. I have been guilty in the past of just handing baby over as soon as he became a bit irritable to the annoyance of Mama. Ask (if you don’t know) when the last time baby was fed. If it was less than an hour or so ago, don’t automatically hand baby over. Try burping, rocking, taking them for a walk etc. Remember, you have just as much ability to settle/comfort baby as Mama does.
5. Encourage her to pump
Even the most dedicated breastfeeding Mama will want/need a break at some point. When she is ready and breastfeeding has been established maybe encourage her to pump some baby fuel. This means you can potentially do a night feed and give her the gift of sleep, or let her have a night out.
Overall though I think it’s just about doing what you can to help Mama and baby, which I am sure we all want to do.