How dads (and others!) can support breastfeeding

 

Dad, here’s how YOU (and others!) can support breastfeeding…  
Your support is essential to helping your partner to breastfeed your baby.  Yes, breastfeeding is something that happens between a mother and child but it can take time for both to learn the skill and, while they do, it is important that they receive support and care.  A recent study in Sligo (First Time Father’s Experience of Breast Feeding, Liz Martin, Health Promotion Officer at the HSE) revealed that the decision to breastfeed was influenced strongly and positively by the father.
What can you do for your partner?

  • Help your partner and child to feel comfortable while feeding – offer cushions,                                 bring her a drink and a healthy snack.
  • Help your partner check your baby’s positioning and latch.
  • Prepare meals and take care of housework, do the shopping.
  • Encourage your partner to accept as much help as possible.
  • Talk to your partner and express your feelings.
  • Encourage, reassure and listen to your partner when she is tired or finding things difficult.
  • Explain to family members and friends about the importance of a creating a supportive environment while breastfeeding is established. Protect her from unhelpful comments and opinions;
  • Read and learn about the importance of breastfeeding.

What can you do for your baby?

  • Firstly, anything you do to support your partner will be good for your baby!  Feeding is only one thing that a baby needs but there are many other ways to help care for your child.
  • Share skin-to-skin time with your baby – lay your child on your bare chest, holding him, stroking him, let him nap there.
  • Bath your baby.
  • Take your baby for walks in the pram, or carry your baby in a sling.
  • Massage your baby.
  • Talk to your baby. Read and sing to your baby.
  • Change your baby’s nappy.
  • Bring your baby to your partner for feeds.
  • Settle your baby after feeds, wind your baby, soothe your baby.

Remember:

  • Breastfeeding works on supply and demand. Newborn babies especially will feed frequently – the more they feed, the more milk will be made.  Your partner will need extra support at these times.
  • Keeping mum and baby together at night will help feeding on demand.
  • If your baby is having wet and dry nappies and gaining weight normally, you can be reassured that they are getting enough milk.
  • Breastfeeding should be well established before introducing a bottle since the type of sucking required to breastfeed is different to that required to feed from a bottle;
  • Your partner might like to meet with other breastfeeding mums. Your Public Health Nurse will know about local breastfeeding groups (Cuidiú or LLL) or check out our own list of mum to mum support groups here.

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