love and breastfeeding – a guide for fathers
What do you think is the factor that most influences whether or not a woman breastfeeds? Her determination? Baby’s ability? Vaginal or Cesarean birth? The answer is: None of the above. Research shows it’s her social support network that is most influential. And, you, as her loving partner, are the most important piece of that support! Showing love to your partner can take many forms-things will be different now that you have a new baby. For starters, you are likely both sleep deprived. In addition your wife is experiencing major hormone shifts as well as being sleepy. The hormonal changes and lack of sleep may contribute to some weepiness. Be prepared to be patient and extra gentle. Your partner is not the same as she was before. She has become a mother and she falling in love with your baby. It is an intense experience and unlike anything she’s experienced before. You may feel left out or even jealous. That’s normal. Talking about it will let your partner know how you’re feeling. She is so involved with all the physical and emotional changes she’s experiences, she probably has no idea! Cuddle time with baby can help you feel more connected. You can experience “breastfeeding” by holding your baby against your bare chest. All that nuzzling and skin to skin contact will help you get to know each other. Mommy will fall in love with you even more just watching you nurture your baby in that way. As you know, breastfeeding requires some extra calories. Your wife will be extra hungry and thirsty and she may not even realize it. She may be so involved with the baby that she forgets to eat. Show your love by bringing her nutritious snacks and plenty to drink. When she’s breastfeeding, make sure she is well supported with pillows under her arms and behind her back. Remind her to relax and give her a little shoulder rub to help out with that.You may feel like you’re not needed at home and your time would be better spent running errands or getting some work done. Not true! If you have any time off work, enjoy it at home getting to know your baby. Acknowledge that you are sleep deprived, too! Take naps with your family and enjoy lazy mornings in bed together. Remember you may be super dad, but you are not super human. You need your rest so you can be present for mom and baby. Enlist the help of neighbors, friends and family for all those errands. Speaking of family and friends… be the protector of your cave. Limit visitors to once a day and keep visiting hours short. And finally, some quotes from real breastfeeding moms. Can you feel the love?My husband is super supportive. He explains the importance of breastfeeding and quotes research if anyone is willing to listen.He wouldn’t let me give up when I was exhausted. My hubby LOVED skin to skin time with the baby. We do a lot of co-sleeping, but he doesn’t complain that he has to share his wife with a child. He also is a champ when it comes to meal prep and snack packing so I’m always fueled to keep the milk supply high. I love him!!
Written by Renee Beebe, M.Ed., IBCLC. Renee is available for in-home consultations. Enlist Renee’s help to create a customized plan for re-entering the workforce. Renee also offers phone consultations for a wide range of issues including childcare, pump selection, pumping and storing milk, increasing milk production and getting enough rest. Renee can be reached at www.second9months.com . For more breastfeeding articles and resources visit: http://www.milkmakers.com/resources/