After having a baby there is so much to think about and so much to do and all of it is new! It didn’t matter how many books I read or people I tried to glean knowledge from, some things just require on the job training and breastfeeding is definitely one of them.
You and your spouse realize just how much you REALLY need each other!! Often times the dad can feel like he doesn’t know what to do to help. Especially if the mom is breastfeeding because well, dads don’t have the necessary equipment for that activity. But, I want the guys to know there is plenty they can do to help us moms!
These are the 10 things my husband did that were absolute game changers for me. It helped me physically, mentally and emotionally. So, dads…help out your wives! 10Ways Dads Can Help Breastfeeding Moms:
- Timing- When you first start breastfeeding it takes a while to get used to the timing. You need to nurse from both breasts around the same amount of time. Then the next nursing session needs to start with the opposite breast that you ended with. Are you confused yet? These are the type of details that can send a sleep deprived mom over the edge. In comes dad… My husband, Aaron, would keep up with how long my son nursed on each breast and tell me when to switch. Then he would also keep up with which breast I nursed from last so I’d know where to start. Yes, we had an app but at the hospital neither of us were thinking clear enough for technology, so he did it on paper. Then when we got home he kept track of the app for me. It’s amazing how not having to think about a little thing like this gives you some freedom.
- Heating/Cooling- The girls (your breasts) are going to be sore. A great way to ease the pain is to use cooling after nursing for some relief and then use heating before nursing to get your breast ready and milk flowing easily for baby. In comes dad…he can get these two things ready for you. My husband would have a diaper that had been soaked in water and then put in the freezer ready for me after my son was finished nursing. Then before a nursing session he would bring me a diaper that had been soaked and put in the microwave to warm my breasts for nursing. This is another huge help! What mom wants to deal with how to heat and cool her breasts when she is still recovering?!
- Meals/Snack- Breastfeeding will make you hungry! You are using a lot of calories and at first you’ll be nursing pretty often. So, you need food! You’ll also need the right kind to of food to keep your supply up. In comes dad…he can have healthy snacks and food prepared for you when you need it. It doesn’t have to be fancy but just the simple act of preparing it for you is a big deal. You don’t have to worry about what to eat or when to eat. Because honestly little decisions like this can be overwhelming. So dad, bring that mama some food!
- Support- Breastfeeding can be hard! It’s taxing on your body and mind. If this is a route you want to go and are determined to do so, you need support! In comes dad…our husbands words carry so much weight with us. Dads can be a huge help in our breastfeeding journey just by speaking words of encouragement, “you can do this, you are doing such a great job, you are not alone.” Words like these can be the difference between a successful breastfeeding journey and giving up because you feel defeated and alone.
- Change Diapers- Newborns are experts at pooping and peeing! This is a great thing but can be taxing when trying to breastfeed, which can often feel like a full time job. In comes dad…this is an area that most men know plenty about (but baby poop still surprisingly grosses them out?). Taking over diaper changing duty can take a load (literally, haha) off mom’s mind. Men, you don’t have breasts but you do have two hands…get to changing those diapers.
- Bring Baby- During the night there is not a ton the dad can do but you know what he can do! In comes dad…bring you the baby. He can be the one that gets up and brings the baby to you while you stay in bed, healing. Again, it seems simple but the little things are what makes a huge difference. I think this one is more about unity. The dad getting up to help during the night is a huge show of support. That leads me to my next point.
- Stay Awake- Nursing in the middle of the night can be very lonely. All you have is your thoughts and those can be scary at times. In comes dad…if dad stays awake with you even for half the nursing session it helps you feel not so alone. It is a sign of unity and a reminder that you are in this together. Plus, sometimes you just want someone to talk to.
- Positioning- Ugh, this is an area I struggled with greatly at first. I couldn’t find a comfortable way to hold my son without feeling like I was suffocating him with my enormous breasts or without getting a serious cramp in my arm. In comes dad…he can help position baby by propping up pillows to support you an your child. This is a big help because you don’t want to be uncomfortable if you’re nursing every couple of hours. The dad making sure you are comfortable also helps you feel supported and loved. **sidenote-later I found the Breastfriend and it legit became my Best friend! Aaron started brining me this instead because it was so easy to use and helped my position my son just right for nursing. If you’re about to start the breastfeeding adventure I highly recommend it!**
- Pumping-I remember the first time I pumped. I was pumping with one breast and nursing with the other. I literally felt like a cow and it wasn’t good for me mentally. In comes dad…he can hold baby while you pump. This way you can focus on one thing at a time and feel a little less like a lactation device. Plus he can used the pumped milk to feed the baby. Feeding your baby really is a cool bonding experience that dad won’t want to miss out on.
- Pacis- Sucking is a huge way that babies soothe themselves. So, sometimes they nurse just because they want to suck on something. In comes dad…if he has pacis handy for the soothing occasions this will help mom and baby. It’ll give your nipples a break and keep baby happy. Because Lord knows a crying baby will break your heart…and your ears. *sidenote- this was our favorite paci (still is) but it took some trial by error to figure out what our son liked best, so if your baby doesn’t like it at first they may just want a different brand*
Now, as I read over this list it seems like there is a lot for dad to do, but that can be empowering for men. Often times I feel like the dads don’t know what to do with babies during the newborn stage. Hopefully these ideas will help them have some guidance and help you get some rest!