Blogger and Instagram influencer The Honest Dad shares his tips on how dads can help support breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding isn’t something I’m able to do. Being a dad means that you have to watch from the proverbial sidelines and trust me, it can be a frustrating process to watch. Breastfeeding is amazing, but it is by no means a walk in the park and no matter what everyone says, it’s tough. At NCT, we were told breastfeeding wouldn’t and shouldn’t hurt. Ever. Of course in our naivety, we didn’t really even question it…the reality is keeping a human alive can be a real challenge for both mum and dad.
There were times in the first few weeks where I literally hung my head in utter despair – I was at my wits end with how much breastfeeding had impacted my wife. As a dad, you have one true role in the process: support your partner – no time for self-pity. At 3.46am on the 24th (seemingly 24,000th) consecutive night of pain, being “supportive” is easier said than done. Here are a few things I found eased the pressure on my wife (a bit):
It’s not always easy to stay up or be awake for the night feeds if you’ve gone back to work, but the effort counts so step up when you can. Make sure you give your partner plenty of time to rest, feeding a baby burns some serious calories. Sometimes, taking your baby downstairs for a few hours can give mum some time to recharge. Expressing milk will help you share the feeding and sometimes a few hours of kip can make all the difference for mum.
1) Take shifts
I actually contacted two breastfeeding specialists regarding feeding and I have to say, it was one of the best things I did. They explained how I could help with positioning etc. in the early days. Our midwives were amazing at the hospital, but once we were home, that extra bit of knowledge really helped me to help out. Although I was frequently rebuffed, I’m pretty sure my wife liked that I was trying to help!
2) Get expert advice
At one point, my wife used a piece of breaded chicken as an offensive weapon during one of her “milk moments” (that’s what I like to call them). As a man, there is absolutely no way you put yourself in a woman’s shoes when it comes to breastfeeding. Being supportive in those wee hours and smiling (at the appropriate time) may give your partner that extra bit of motivation if they are finding things hard. Oh, and try to forget out of character actions – don’t hold a grudge; if you had a small human attached to your nipple all day, you’d be out of sorts too.
3) Be positive
One of the biggest things that helped my wife was talking about what was going on. She had mastitis twice, thrush and a few other complications in the first month. These conditions are painful and they need to be treated appropriately. Dads – listen to your partners and do your research. Help them out by trying to be knowledgeable when you can and if not, at least listen and give your partner some time. Think, do you need to take them to the GP? Is it a matter of getting some lanolin cream? Would a hot bath help? Listen carefully, you can be of more help than you realise by just being understanding.
4) Communicate with your partner!
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