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What About Dads

How dads can support breastfeeding, bond with their babies and help mom.

Congratulations, on becoming a father! It’s a big job with lots of rewards. Your top priorities are to make sure mom and baby stay happy and healthy. As you and your wife adjust to your new roles as parents, talk together often and listen for ways you can help. Would it surprise you to know that the single most important factor in a new mom’s success with breastfeeding is support. Dads-to-be are usually surprised to hear that they have this vital impact, and are all ears on how they can help the process. Mothers who have active husbands support their breastfeeding efforts breastfeed longer. And they get more benefits from breastfeeding.

Skin to Skin. There are many benefits of skin-to-skin that are well-documented, and the benefits apply no matter who is holding baby! Aside from the obviously comforting nature of skin-to-skin, it can also help regulate several biological functions, such as temperature, heart rate, and breathing. Some studies have even shows that skin-to-skin can help brain functioning!

Be a gatekeeper. New moms find it very difficult to say no sometimes, or to ask for help. Make sure you discuss with her ahead of time how many visitors she wants, and when, and also what chores that friends and family can do to make your lives easier. Then, enforce the rules. Be the bad guy, so she doesn’t have to.

Encouragement and support. It may not seem like much, but let mom know how proud you are of her, that she’s doing a great job, and that you’ll be there for her. Many moms second guess themselves and wonder if they are screwing it all up. Make sure she knows that you’ve got her back.

Burping. Babies may swallow air when they lose suction while feeding, which causes discomfort. Its' important to note that breastfed babies do not taking in as much air while nursing compared to a baby being bottle fed. However it's up to you to help your little one expel the air they do take in after each feeding until he can do it on his own.Sometimes just holding him up with your hands around his upper chest (with him looking at you) will do the trick. If your baby doesn't burp, don't worry. Be Prepared for Spitting Up Always assume your baby will spit up when he burps. That's what burp cloths are for, so keep one handy and use it. If he does spit up, wipe it up and clear his mouth.

Here Are Some Basic Burping Techniques:

You and your baby will essentially work together to get burping down, as it is a learned skill for both of you and there are a variety of alternatives. Try them out to see what works best.

  • Over Your Shoulder - Hold your baby to your chest with one hand on her bottom and her head on your shoulder. Make sure her tummy is in solid contact with your chest because the pressure will help get the air out. Gently pat or rub her back.

  • Over Your Lap - Lie your baby face down across your lap with his tummy over one leg and his chest and head over the other. Gently rub or pat his back with a motion that works the air up from his tummy.

  • Sitting Up on Your Lap - With your baby sitting upright on one of your legs facing sideways and leaning slightly forward, place your hand high on her chest where you can also support her head. Pat her on the back.

Diaper Changes. When baby is ready for a feed, handing over a baby with a fresh, clean diaper can help minimize baby’s discomfort and even make the feeding experience better. This also gives mom an opportunity to get situated and ready for a feeding, take a quick bathroom break, or even just a few minutes to breathe.

Bath Time. Baths are a great way to distract or amuse a small baby when you feel like you can’t bounce them for one more second. Some babies find water soothing, but at the very least, the stimulation will likely be enough to wear them out. Plus, they smell so good after! You may even want to rub a little lotion into their skin afterward.

Handle some of the chores. You’ll both be surprised at the amount of time breastfeeding takes. Anything you do around the house is going to take a weight off mom. Otherwise she’ll sit there nursing, but making mental notes of everything that needs to be done around the house. And getting stressed.

Dad can help with feedings too. After 3-4 weeks, mom can start pumping milk This give dad a chance to feed his baby a bottle from time to time. It will also allow for mom to get some things done. A small window of time during the day so mom can get out for a while can be truly gratifying. Having pumped milk on hand ensures she can get a few errands done without worrying about the baby getting hungry while she’s gone. Even if mom is breastfeeding during the night, you can share the load by getting up and bringing the baby in to her. Sometimes waking up and not having to get out of bed is really appreciated.

Give mom a nap. Between feedings, spend some time with the baby away from mom, letting her take a short nap. Even a rest period without sleeping can be wonderful for a mom who is up frequently during the night.

Go for a walk with baby in the stroller. Everything is new to a baby, and sometimes just a walk around the block can be exciting for them. (Or sleep inducing, it can go either way!) Many car seats can be strapped into a stroller for the itty bitty babies. This is a perfect time for mom to take a shower, have a meal or watch a show.

Take Mom on a drive-thru date. {This was my favorite pass time post-partum} Finding time for you and your partner is hard with a new baby. If your baby does well in the car, take mom on a date to a drive-thru. Hopefully, baby will take a snooze. Even if mom decides to stay home and nap, you can always pick up a treat to bring home.

Be the protector. New fathers are often surprised at how protective they feel towards their new family. If mom needs help with visitors that don’t know when to leave, or needs a buffer from a questioning grandma (who might not have breastfed), you’re in the perfect position to have her back.

Messages for Mom. This can be anything from a shoulder and neck rub to helping your wife relax by rubbing her breast as the baby was getting ready to latch on. When she’s relaxed, it will lead to better milk will let down. The breast massage will also help with milk circulation and release.

Keep Older Children Engaged. I can not stress this one enough. Help your older children adapt to having a new sibling taking moms attention by given them all the love and time you can. While other children are engaged with an activity with dad, mom can concentrate on the baby with out distraction or guilt.

Make Sure She is Well Stocked. Make sure she has everything she needs on hand. Keep a loaded basket next to her side of the bed with all her essentials. It's easy for new mother to be so preoccupied with the baby that they forget about themselves. Some forget to eat and drink at times. Bring her a glass of water and something to eat while she’s nursing.

Find outside help. Maybe you do everything humanly possible and mom still has trouble. It happens. Luckily, there are certified breastfeeding counselors-like myself- around to help. Find one through La Leche League or search for Lactation supports in your area. We’ve dealt with it all – sore nipples, not enough milk, breast infections, you name it. As the family resource finder, you will have scored again.

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