It’s common for dads to feel a little out of the loop regarding breastfeeding. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. Even if your baby is breastfed, dads can still have a role in breastfeeding. Even though dads won’t be the ones actually breastfeeding their baby or producing milk, it doesn’t mean they can’t be part of your breastfeeding journey as a mother.
Breastfeeding is easy for some mothers and can be a big struggle for others. I know you have just birthed a baby, so in reality, you can pretty much conquer anything. But that doesn’t mean you have to make your breastfeeding journey alone. Having a brand-new baby is exhausting and overwhelming, so having a good support system is something moms really need.
Dads can play a significant supporting role in breastfeeding. Share with dad these ways that he can help YOU with breastfeeding.
13 Ways Dads Can Help With Breastfeeding
Don’t be afraid to voice your needs to your husband. Just because you are the one who experienced labor and delivery and now have this food source your baby is entirely dependent on, remember you are in this together. Especially if you are a first-time mom trying to figure out how to hold them, stop them from crying, change their diaper, and put clothes on them, it can seem overwhelming. Breastfeeding is an entirely new journey and something you may have never done before, so take it each step at a time and let dads offer plenty of help and support.
Dads, buckle up and listen: These simple things below will go a long way in helping you grow closer together as a couple and as a family.
1. Gain some knowledge about breastfeeding.
I’m not saying you must go out and become a certified lactation consultant. Nor am I suggesting you stick a breast pump to your chest, so you know how it feels (but be my guest, you probably won’t try it again!). I am saying, put in some time and effort to have some knowledge of breastfeeding.
This also could be something you do before your baby’s arrival. You could attend a breastfeeding class together or find resources and help through a lactation consultant. Even reading a book or two on the subject will help! However you choose to do it, try to learn about breastfeeding, latching, positioning, hunger cues, let downs, and so on. Understanding a little bit about how breastfeeding works and what to be aware of will help you to better aid mom.
2. Help baby get a good latch.
As a brand-new mother, I was always concerned about not producing enough milk and didn’t consider that latching could be a hassle. Thankfully I was like a momma cow and had enough milk for everyone. But latching was much more complicated than I had anticipated, especially at the beginning.
Help mom get baby latched on. Moms are often very sleep-deprived, so holding and positioning a fussy baby late at night can be frustrating and challenging. Lend her a hand and do all you can to help successfully latch your baby. Another helpful tip is to recognize what a correct latch looks like to know whether the baby is latched correctly.
3. Make sure she is comfortable.
This is HUGE! Making sure mom is comfortable could look like many different things, but it is a great idea to ensure she has everything she needs during a nursing session. Breastfeeding requires a lot of energy, so if it seems like her hunger and thirst levels increased even more since having the baby, don’t question it. Breastfeeding will drain energy from her leaving her hungry and thirsty a lot of the time. With that in mind, offer her snacks and a water bottle while she’s nursing. You can also adjust any pillows to make her as comfortable as possible. While mom is breastfeeding, check in with her, and ask her if she needs anything.
4. Offer her company while she is breastfeeding.
Moms spend much of their day with a little one attached to the boob, so sometimes it can seem like all they do is nurse, nurse, nurse. Even though she isn’t alone while breastfeeding, feedings can sometimes feel lonely. Offer her some company while she breastfeeds to give her that extra support and someone to talk to.
5. Help with the feeding log.
If getting your baby on a feeding schedule is something you, as parents, have decided to do, do your best to keep track of the feeding log and show interest in your baby’s schedule. Moms have so much to think about; it can be nice to have a log with the last time your baby nursed or when they may need a nap. Doing this will help mom feel like she isn’t alone and has support from you.
6. Burp the baby.
Burping your baby can be a great way to help mom with the feeding process. Be ready to take the baby after a feeding session and give mom’s arms a break. Burping the baby is another good way to bond with baby after being fed. My husband enjoyed burping our baby after I would feed. Often, we had a good system down where he would take the burping role after our little guy had a full tummy. Keep those burp cloths handy, though! You may find yourself dealing with some spit-up a time or two.
7. Help with the baby in other ways.
Just because you can’t physically do the breastfeeding part doesn’t mean there aren’t other things you can’t do. Babies require a lot of time and attention. So, find a few ways to help mom out by taking on some of the other daily baby tasks. Some suggestions would be:
- Change the diapers
- Give baby a bath
- Dress baby
- Babywear around the house or on a walk
- Do skin-to-skin
- Help with bedtime or naptime
8. Get up in the night with her.
If you can get up with her at night, she will thank you time and time again. You probably have a job to get to in the morning, so getting up every night for every feeding might not always be feasible. But when you can, please DO IT! Bring baby to her for feedings in the night or help her get positioned and a good latch. You could also change the diaper at night and soothe the baby back to sleep. When possible, please do whatever you can to help and support her through the nightly wakeups.
9. Help around the house.
I know you are not a housewife but pick up the slack and help with house chores. Do those dishes, vacuum the house, scrub the bathrooms, fold the laundry, and cook dinner. These simple tasks will make mom feel so happy! When I had my first baby, I was obsessed with ensuring everything was spotless, clean, and tidy, but I couldn’t do it all. My body was trying to heal, and I was learning how to be a new mother and keep this tiny newborn alive and happy, and I needed help. I was so grateful for my husband’s support with simple house chores.
10. Help with pumping preparation and then bottle feed.
If mom is pumping and breastfeeding, this is the perfect opportunity for you! You can help prepare bottles and pump parts. Pumping requires a lot of extra baggage and washing, which most moms dread. Help by getting her pumping equipment and bottles ready, and then after use, clean the pump parts and bottles and prepare for the next use. After she pumps, this is a great time to offer to bottle feed your baby so she can take a break.
11. Check in with her and tackle any problems together.
Make it a priority to check in with her daily about how breastfeeding is going. Show interest and find out what struggles she could be dealing with. If she encounters some setbacks with latching difficulty, positioning, discomfort, milk supply issues, etc., be sure to support her. Research together, consult with a lactation specialist or doctor and tackle any problems together as a team. Many factors can affect a mother’s breastfeeding journey, so be sure to be there for her every step of the way and do your best to help it be as positive as possible.
12. Appreciate her and be her cheerleader.
Appreciate her role as a mother and, more importantly, show her your appreciation. Most mothers want to succeed at breastfeeding, so appreciate her dedication and be sure to cheer her on. Breastfeeding requires a lot of effort and sacrifice to offer the best nutrition for your baby. So, tell her that you are there to support her every step.
13. Give her a massage.
This right here is the winning ticket. Most mothers LOVE to be massaged. Producing and sustaining a milk supply requires a lot of effort from the body. And the nursing position can cause a lot of back, shoulder, and neck pain. A good massage will help relieve the tension and stress she could be dealing with. It will also promote relaxation and a better night’s sleep. You could offer to massage her while she breastfeeds to help her relax or give her a back rub after the day is over. Any massage at any time is the right thing to do, in my opinion.
Ultimately as a dad, just do your best. Remember, you are in this together. These 13 different ways are the perfect ways to help a mom breastfeed. Some may help directly, and others may help indirectly, but dads have a role in parenting like mothers. Even though you won’t be the one to breastfeed, there are countless other ways to support her during her breastfeeding journey.