It is normal and human for dads to feel left out and inadequate when moms breastfeed. Their role in parenting seems relatively insignificant as compared to that of the mom, who is also supplying nourishment to the baby. However, it is important for dads to remember that breastfeeding mothers need constant support and encouragement to do their job well. This is where a dad can step in and provide material and emotional props to the mother while she goes about her task of ensuring that the baby is content and well-fed.
Given below are 9 tips on how dads can support breastfeeding:
1. Fill in with household chores: Mothers need time, space and a little relief from household chores in order to breastfeed comfortably. A hassled or overwhelmed mom may find it difficult to breastfeed. Fathers can fill in here by taking over cooking or cleaning chores so the mother can relax instead of fretting about dirty dishes piling up in the sink.
2. Make mom comfortable while she is breastfeeding: Providing and adjusting pillows, offering water or snacks or just being there so she feels there is help at hand will de-stress her hugely.
3. Burp baby and change diapers: Dad can burp the baby after breastfeeding or change the diaper if necessary. This is as essential as breastfeeding and would give much-needed relief to the tired mom.
4. Hang out with baby: Just hanging out with baby, playing, baby-talking, taking baby for a stroll are all excellent ways of bonding with baby while creating time for the tired mother to rest. Dads who feel physically left out can always enjoy skin-to-skin contact with a diaper-clad baby by holding her/him close to the chest.
5. Reassure and praise: Breastfeeding mothers, especially first-time moms, can always do with appreciation when they succeed in breastfeeding adequately and consistently. On the other hand, a mom who finds it difficult to breastfeed needs encouragement so she does not clam up or feel guilty. Dads can always give emotional support.
6. Encourage mom to take care of herself: Nursing mothers often tend to neglect themselves. It is imperative that the mother eat nutritious foods, drink plenty of liquids and keep herself reasonably well-groomed. Her sense of well-being will literally trickle down to baby. Dad can help here by encouraging mom to take good care of herself.
7. Help mom sleep: A mother who is not getting enough sleep may not be able to breastfeed successfully. The breastfeeding experience would be far more enjoyable if dad can do some of the changing or bring the baby to mom for the feed and tuck the little one back into bed.
8. Help through challenging times by getting a specialist to help: There could be difficult times when attempts at breastfeeding fail. Dad can take mom to a specialist and ensure that she gets herself treated promptly.
9. Shield her in public: Finally, in case mom needs to feed the baby in public places, dad can act as a human shield, giving her enough privacy to breastfeed comfortably.
The golden rule for dads is that if you love your child, you must love the mother too. Whatever loving support a devoted father can extend to the breastfeeding mother will make for happier nursing times and a contented baby.