A breastfeeding husband sounds like an inappropriate label but contrary to what you might think, moms and their babies aren’t the only ones involved in breastfeeding. As a partner and father, it’s also your duty to provide the support your family needs during this time. Here are a few tips on how to become a bonafide breastfeeding partner!
Breastfeeding Husband 101: Help Out Your Baby and Partner
In this guide:
- Pay Attention to Your Baby’s Hunger Cues
- Discuss Your Partner’s Breastfeeding Goals
- Make Your Partner Comfortable
- Encourage Your Partner to Pump
- Bond With Your Baby
- Keep Your Partner Nourished and Well-Rested
- Be Thoughtful
- Communicate Openly
Pay Attention to Your Baby’s Hunger Cues
Every parent can attest that as time goes by, they learn to tell the difference between their baby’s cries of hunger, pain, or plain restlessness. The more you pay attention, the more you’ll discover what particular movements and sounds your baby makes to indicate they’re hungry. Some of these can be sucking sounds, crying, moving around, and hand-to-mouth movements. When you notice these cues, take your baby to mom for feeding time.
Discuss Your Partner’s Breastfeeding Goals
The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding your baby for at least two years. Your partner may want to follow this but she may also decide otherwise. Maybe she believes one year is enough or maybe she’ll use formula the whole time. Regardless, it’s important to discuss this with her. This discussion should include if and how long she plans to breastfeed and what tools she will need to achieve this goal. You should also accompany her to clinic visits and discuss with her doctor the best path for your breastfeeding goals.
Make Your Partner Comfortable
There’s a flurry of activity and adjustments when a new baby arrives. Caught in the middle of all these changes, the new mom might not have as much time or desire to take care of herself. Not only that, breastfeeding takes a physical toll as well. To become an effective breastfeeding husband, you need to be the one who puts your partners comfort first. Give her pillows to support her back and the baby. Give her occasional back and neck massages to loosen up her tense muscles (you can even learn basic lactation massages from online videos). Always make sure she has a tall glass of water in arm’s reach while nursing.
Encourage Your Partner to Pump
Once your partner has gotten the hang of breastfeeding, encourage her to use her breast pump. She can start pumping three to four weeks after delivery. Pumping on a schedule (even a loose one, depending on how often you’re away from your baby) allows you to keep a steady supply of stored milk you can feed your baby if mom is away or taking some much-needed time for herself.
Bond With Your Baby
Your partner is likely to be tired a lot so seize opportunities to hold and carry your baby. For example, when he cries at night, you can be the one who picks them up and carries him to mommy. After feeding, be the one to burp and change the baby’s diaper and bring him or her back to the crib. Cuddling, bathing, and playing with your newborn is a great way to build your relationship.
Once in a while, you should also bottle-feed your baby. This is necessary for stay-at-home dads. With bottle-feeding, you can stand in for your partner when she’s at work or too tired to breastfeed. This is also a great way to bond with your baby—you’ll be a real breastfeeding husband!
Keep Your Partner Nourished and Well-Rested
Your partner is nourishing another person so she needs to maintain a healthy diet and stay hydrated. For example, make a healthy snack or bring her a drink when she’s pumping or breastfeeding.
Additionally, lessen her load by taking on the household chores. Be the one who cooks dinner and washes the dishes. This gives your partner plenty of time to rest and focus on the baby. Remember to thoroughly clean the bottles and breast pump, too!
A little bit of thoughtfulness can go a long way. This can come in the form of back rubs, small gifts, and jokes when mommy is stressed. Maybe you can surprise her with her favorite breakfast in bed or call your mom or in-laws to babysit so you can give her a day off. Don’t forget to praise your partner and always remind her what a great mom she is.
Open communication is still the most important thing in a relationship especially during a new and challenging phase such breastfeeding. Don’t hesitate to ask your partner what she wants and do your best to provide it.
Now that you have breastfeeding down pat, it’s time to try the baby bottle. Here’s a helpful video from Howcast on how to properly bottle feed your newborn:
Breastfeeding husband is an apt phrase to describe husbands who take an active role in giving mothers much-needed help during breastfeeding. When dads and moms work together to care for their baby, their ties strengthen. Bonding over breastfeeding deepens and enriches your family. Best of luck on your breastfeeding journey!
Do you have other tips for the breastfeeding husband? Share them with us in the comments section below!
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