Father and Partner Support Makes a Difference
Information for Fathers, Spouses, and Partners
Baby Steps to Support! Here are some easy ways you can support your partner:
© USBC 2011
- Attend a breastfeeding class with your partner. Often hospitals and public health clinics offer breastfeeding education in the community.
- Praise her decision to breastfeed! A word of encouragement goes a long way in helping new mothers feel confident.
- Take an active role in the hospital. Many hospitals allow dads to cut the umbilical cord after delivery. You can also ask about being the one to weigh the baby for the first time. You can also keep track of baby’s wet and dirty diapers during the first week or so. Click here for a first week daily breastfeeding log.
- Tell the hospital staff about your needs. Let the nurses know what you and the baby’s mother have decided is important to you in the early hours after baby is born. Tell them that your partner would like to hold the baby skin-to-skin in the first hour or so after birth to help stabilize the baby and help him attach to the breast all by himself/herself. Ask if you can hold the baby skin-to-skin if mom isn’t available.
- Ask for help if you or your partner have questions. International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) are health care professionals who specialize in breastfeeding. Ask the hospital for a visit from the IBCLC or the name of an IBCLC in the community who can help, or find a lactation consultant in your community at the “Find a Lactation Consultant Directory” at www.ilca.org. If you live in Louisiana, you can find healthcare professionals specializing in breastfeeding assistance at Zipmilk Louisiana.
- Monitor visitors in the hospital and at home. Although everyone is excited and wants to see and hold the new baby, explain to family members that the mother, father and baby need to be alone in the first hour or two. You can also help keep visitors to a minimum while the mother is in the hospital and in her early days home so she and the baby will have time and privacy needed to grow confident with breastfeeding. Encourage other visitors to bring a meal and to be prepared to leave after 15 or 20 minutes.
- Nurture the baby’s mother. After baby is born, the mother’s hormone levels shift wildly. Many new mothers find that the attention they once enjoyed during pregnancy is now focused on the baby, and can feel sad or left out. You are the perfect person to make sure the mother feels special. She loves knowing you are proud of her.
- Enjoy your new baby. You can speak and sing softly to baby while he/she gazes at you as the new daddy. Help the mother count fingers and toes, lovingly touch and stroke your baby, and talk softly so baby learns to recognize your voice. Enjoy rocking, burping, kissing, holding and bathing your baby.
- For other ideas on how you can support your breastfeeding spouse or partner visit these links:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
© Addie Imseis and USBC 2011
How will breastfeeding affect mom’s breasts?
Many dads worry about how breastfeeding might affect their partner’s breasts. During the time baby is breastfeeding, your partner’s breasts may temporarily enlarge a bra cup size or two; usually they go back down in size after baby is weaned. However, it is pregnancy, age and gravity NOT breastfeeding that can cause breasts to sag later in life.
Will breastfeeding interfere with sex?
Most couples find that they can easily resume their sexual relationship during the time the mother is breastfeeding. Women are often more comfortable when they feed the baby beforehand so their breasts are not as full. This also helps the baby to remain quiet while the parents enjoy time together alone.
Why do babies have to be fed so often?
Babies have very small stomachs and need to breastfeed around 8-12 times every 24 hours. This helps assure that they are getting enough calories to grow and develop well, and helps your partner make plenty of milk. Babies also breastfeed for other reasons. For example, babies often enjoy just being in the warmth and comfort of their mother’s arms, and to receive comfort if they are ill, frightened, lonely, or uncomfortable. Dads can enjoy this special snuggle time with baby, too. Meeting a baby’s need for closeness with both parents helps them become more confident and independent later in life.
Who can help with breastfeeding questions or problems?
IBCLCs are health professionals with special knowledge and experience to help breastfeeding families. They can help a mother know how breastfeeding is going, answer her questions, help her find solutions, and give her options that help her meet her breastfeeding goals. To reach an IBCLC in Louisiana or to get in touch with other health professionals that specialize in breastfeeding assistance, please visit ZipMilk Louisiana.
The information above was adapted from @ 2010 International Lactation Consultant Association. Written by Cathy Carothers for World Breastfeeding Week Action Kit, “Breastfeeding: Just 10 Steps! The Baby-Friendly Way.”