Breastfeeding: How Dads Can Help
By Paige Ames | May 07, 2019
Hey Dad! Listen up! You gotta learn a few things about breastfeeding. Sure, mom’s got most of the work, but she needs your support, too.
Hands down, when dad is educated about the ins and outs of breastfeeding and fully supports their significant other on her breastfeeding journey, she is more likely to be successful at it. Becoming attuned to your partner’s wants and needs while she is breastfeeding or pumping will make you part of the team - one that will be in place for years to come!
Our team at 1 Natural Way recognizes the important role that fathers play in supporting the breastfeeding journey, so we have compiled best practices to support you. We’ve got some pointers that daddies-to-be can work on before baby arrives and some strategies to employ once the new addition is home.
Before Baby Arrives
- Attend breastfeeding and/or pumping classes with mom-to-be through a medical program (found at maternity centers, hospitals, or from lactation consultants). Knowledge is power and you have the potential to retain as much breastfeeding information as your significant other. What a great start on the breastfeeding journey!
- If in-person classes are not in the cards, there are plenty of webinars and online videos available to learn about breastfeeding in the comfort of your own home.
- Have a true, deep discussion where you both lay out your breastfeeding and/or pumping expectations, hopes, worries and concerns. Communication is key! Talk about how you will support her while she is busy nursing, what she expects of you if she exclusively pumps and has you help with the feedings, and whether you plan to share bottle feedings during the day and night, etc.
- Be ready with a breast pump ahead of your little one’s arrival with the help of 1 Natural Way. 1 Natural Way can work to help secure mom-to-be’s insurance-covered breast pump and assist her in picking the breast pump that suits her needs.
- Once the breast pump is delivered, take the time (we mean REALLY take the time) to get to know how the pump works. Learn all about its accessories, how it collects breast milk, and how to clean and sanitize the accessories. Plan to be your partner’s wingman during those first stressful feedings and late night bottle and nipple shield cleanings.
- Learn the rules and guidelines for breast milk storage, refrigeration, freezing, thawing, carrying around in an insulated cooler, etc. There’s a good chance you will be involved in all of these things! Work with mom to devise a labeling or tracking system for bottled and stored breast milk that is clear to both of you. She can then depend on you to thaw frozen milk before it goes bad and to sort through refrigerated milk that now needs to be frozen.
- Stake out a place and help prepare your partner’s primary breastfeeding and pumping station. This is your opportunity to create a comfortable environment (a cushy chair with armrests, footstool, snacks and water within arm’s reach!) where you she can pump and/or breastfeed in peace.
- Talk to your friends who are new dads. Learn their best practices for supporting their spouse or partner (and what did not work). Be sure to ask any and every question you may have!
- Recognize what kind of nutrition - food and drink - mom will need to maintain a plentiful, nutritious milk supply and help her avoid getting hangry. Check out our handy guide - Foods to Eat (And Avoid) as a Breastfeeding Mom.
- Realize that once your new addition arrives, there will be less time for you. She will be the primary giver of nutrition for the baby, but that does not mean she will rely on you less. Just know that this time goes by in the blink of an eye and by working together and supporting her, you can help make her breastfeeding journey successful.
Once Baby Is Home
- Constantly show your partner your support and your commitment to be by her side throughout her breastfeeding journey.
- Keep the contact information of mom and baby’s medical team close by (OBGYN, pediatrician, lactation consultant) and be ready to make a call about questions or concerns that arise as mom starts breastfeeding.
- Recognize when baby is hungry. Often times, when baby is hungry, you’ll notice her sucking on her fist, smacking her lips, rooting and being just plain restless. Help your partner by bringing baby over to her and guiding the baby to latch on properly. Getting up during the night to take baby out of the nursery and putting her back once she is done breastfeeding is helpful too!
- Become attuned to your partner’s comfort level when she is preparing to breastfeed or pump. She may need you to grab her dedicated nursing pillow or an extra one or two pillows to support her back, arms or the baby. She may also need an extra hand in getting baby positioned just right to latch on properly.
- Encourage the new mom to take naps and to take care of herself in general. Breastfeeding is mentally and physically taxing on a mother. A healthy breastfeeding woman needs rest, nutritious snacks and meals, and a feeling that she is absolutely supported.
- While your partner is resting after a feeding session, take the opportunity to bond with your child. Carry her in a sling, bathe her, sing and read books aloud, cuddle and enjoy your precious time together. If your little one moves towards breastmilk bottle-feeding, dad can still offer the bottle, while encouraging that skin-to-skin connection too!
- If mom is pumping, take the lead on bagging or bottling up newly expressed milk, sterilizing, cleaning and organizing the pump parts, bottles, etc. It will be one less thing your significant other has to worry about!
- Reach out to 1 Natural Way so we can set you up with a Resupply Program! Once verified with your insurance company, 1 Natural Way can have breast pump replacement parts and breastfeeding supplies delivered right to your door as needed.
1 Natural Way offers a complete array of products and services to make moms more comfortable and confident throughout their pregnancy and breastfeeding journey. We provide mothers with name brand breast pumps, monthly breastfeeding supplies, maternity compression stockings and postpartum recovery garments, as well as expert and compassionate advice and top-notch customer service. Click here to start the qualification process and find out if you qualify for a breast pump at no cost to you.
About the Author
Paige Ames is 1 Natural Way's Verification Specialist and Training Coordinator, working with insurance providers to find out what benefits moms can receive through their insurance plan. In addition to benefits, Paige is also very knowledgeable about the breast pumps and pumping accessories. Because of her range of knowledge, you can find her educating moms at online baby showers and on podcasts like the Army Wives Network. Paige is mom to one beautiful daughter. She enjoys gardening, going to the movies and spending time with her family.