This picture can speak for itself! But I want to add some more ideas. Many fathers feel like they can’t take care of a breastfed baby unless they can feed the baby a bottle of milk. While that can be rewarding for many fathers it can both undermine successful breastfeeding and ignore the important and unique things that a father can do to take care of his breastfeeding baby.
Dads can do much much more than change diapers and feed bottles! Here are some ideas — please send me your ideas as well:
– Dads can learn about breastfeeding. Reading a book or taking a class can take just a few hours of time. If a father knows what to expect, he can offer support to his baby’s mother that promotes breastfeeding. Some good books are The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding from La Leche League International or The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers by Dr. Jack Newman.
– Dads can protect their new baby from over-eager visitors. Babies need lots of time and practice to establish breastfeeding. Most mothers need a lot of quiet and private time to focus on helping babies get good at breastfeeding. Since mothers are still recovering from birth it can be to much work for them to ask visitors to please leave.
– Dads can change diapers. So I know that I said that there was much more that fathers could do, but changing diapers is actually a really important part of making sure that breastfeeding is going well in the beginning. The number of wet and soiled diapers that a baby has is an excellent indicator of how much breastmilk he or she is getting. Dad can keep track of those diapers. If there aren’t as many diapers as would be expected then call for breastfeeding help.
– Dads can learn about signs of post-partum depression. Depression is one of those things that can be hard for the person experiencing it to recognize or seek help for. Fathers can help their partners get help. Breastfeeding protects babies from the problems that they can have when their mothers are depressed. Fathers can recognize this and help mothers keep breastfeeding through depression.
– Dads can comfort babies in their own ways: dancing, rocking, sh-sh-ing, bathing. Fathers may have more endurance than a mother that is recovering from birth — an important asset as they care for high-need babies. Anne Altshuler (a LLL leader in Madison) told me, “Fathers are the first person in a baby’s life who can teach that baby that love can come without food.”
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Dads can sing to their babies or tell them nursery rhymes, stories, or even the events of the day. Dads can do skin-to-skin kangaroo care. Dad can hold baby against his chest, letting baby hear his deeper voice and feel his breathing and heart beat. It’s very soothing. Dad can read books to the older baby. Dad can carry the baby in a sling or front packon a walk in the house or outside. When the baby is ready for solid foods, at around 6 months, Dad can be involved in the feeding, too. As the photo shows, dads play differently with babies than moms do, and babies love theis! (Just no tossing or shaking, please).
Hi Adria! Nice to see this online spot for nursing mothers in Madison.
William learned a lot about latch when we were having so many issues with Ren’s latch, and he would try to help me correct Ren’s latch. It was helpful at the beginning. But then I made the decision that correcting Ren’s latch was such an uphill battle that it wasn’t worth it (and the latch did later just get better as he got bigger). And then William would still look at, comment on, and obsess over Ren’s latch long after I’d given up and moved on. Which drove me nuts.
So my advice for Fathers in hindsight is to support breastfeeding, but follow Mom’s lead on breastfeeding issues. But to take the lead in other areas Adria talked about.
I’ll never forget what a young, new mother said to me. She said she told her husband that she wanted him to say only 3 things to her after the baby was born- “you’re beautiful””you’re doing a great job””I’m so proud of you” No matter what. That way, when she reached a threshold of frustration and needed to vent in the early days, he was not as inclined to give advice but simply allow her feelings and say one of the above.