Breastfeeding is a really special process by which mum and baby can bond – but sometimes dads can feel a little left out of the act.
Dads can feel a little useless, as the massive task of feeding baby is already taken over, but there are plenty of other ways dad can help support baby, like changing, feeding, burping, playing, washing, being part of their nighttime routine – the alternative ways for dad to bond with baby are endless!
But what’s really needed at this time is support for mum. While it may seem like she has it all covered, breastfeeding can be hugely challenging, exhausting and even painful in the beginning. If you’re feeling a little at a loss as of how to help, we’ve put together some things breastfeeding mums want their partners to know so they can be as much a part of the journey as mum is.
Help mum out while she’s feeding
Though it might not look like it, feeding is an exhausting and seemingly never-ending task for mums, especially in those initial weeks. As baby’s food source, we’re constantly on call, night and day, out and about or in at home. A huge portion of our day goes to feeding when we breastfeed and all our own needs become secondary.
Which is why it’s really great when dads become your carers when you become baby’s carer. Just thinking of those small extra things, like grabbing you a blanket, getting you something to drink or eat while baby is feeding, or even helping with preparing for breastfeeding when you leave the house. By helping pack the diaper bag with all the feeding essential as well as a cover for out in public, dads can actively involved in the process of breastfeeding, rather than passive bystanders feeling out of the loop.
Be the ‘on’ person when mum is recovering
Breastfeeding can be a difficult time for mums, especially at the beginning. Baby may be having trouble latching, mum is probably in pain and learning (or even re-learning) how to do it can feel pressurising and utterly overwhelming.
With all that going on – as well still possibly recovering from the birth itself, mum is at maximum capacity at this time, which means her regular share of the domestic and parenting work with other children may be a little neglected at this time. It’s a time that requires a lot from her – and therefore requires a lot from dad too.
Dads should be trying to keep the house running as smoothly as possible at this time, from packing lunches to signing school forms to putting on loads of laundry. No house with a small baby is expected to look spick and span at all, but keeping the normal routine going to a certain extent – especially if there are other children in the house – is a very necessary task. It won’t be easy and certain things are bound to slip, but the effort to keep things running will be seen and appreciated.
Pick up the sleep slack
When breastfeeding, baby’s nighttime routine is mum’s nighttime routine. This means she’s up every time baby is calling out for food, which means she’s up pretty often throughout the night at an already sleepless time.
Staying up with baby at the times in between feeding, like when baby needs burping, changing or just comfort, is where dad should come in. Mum is already doing the feeding shift, so allowing her the time to sleep and recover between each feeding shift is really important to share the duties. It’s exhausting, but neither of you is more tired or getting more sleep than the other anyway, so try to view it as tag-teaming.