How to Get Dad Involved with Breastfeeding
Are you a mom who is exhausted from the constant demand of breastfeeding? Do you have a baby who has bonded deeply with mom but struggles being left alone with dad? Are you a dad who may be feeling left out, wondering how you can be more involved with your baby in these early stages of life?
Breastfeeding is one of the best things you can do for your child, but it also comes with its difficulties for each parent. With mom being the source of food, it can be tiring for her being the only one involved. This can also lead to dad feeling left out and baby being somewhat resistant to him (since she is with mom most of the time).
So, what can you do to get dad more involved with breastfeeding, to give mom a break and help him to bond more with baby?
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What are My Options?
There are a few options available, depending on how strict you want to be with keeping baby exclusively on the breast. Some parents do not want to switch their baby back and forth between breast and bottle, which is fine, and there are options available to those parents as well.
For the parents that are okay with the baby taking a bottle every now and again, have dad…
Offer a Bottle
Bottle feeding with breast milk is by far the easiest way to get dad involved with breastfeeding. It will also give mom a much-needed break every once in a while.
There may be a bit more work for her initially so she can pump and build up a stockpile of breast milk. But once the preliminary stash is established, it is merely a matter of maintaining that supply.
After baby has established a good latch and feeding schedule with mom, dad can begin substituting some breastfeeding sessions with bottle feeding sessions. Using the milk that mom has saved up in the refrigerator or freezer.
If Mom and Dad agree, Dad can take over nighttime feedings while the baby needs them (up until at least the age of 6 months). This will allow mom to (hopefully) sleep through the night and give dad some good bonding time with baby.
When dad is home during the day, he can also substitute some regular breast feedings with bottle feedings. This way mom can get a break to sleep for a few minutes, take a relaxing bath, or just have a few quiet moments to herself.
For those that may want to be strict about keeping baby exclusively on the breast (I was one of these moms), the following options can be particularly helpful for you. Of course, they can be used by bottle feeding parents as well.
Bring Baby to Mom
It may seem like something small, but having an extra set of hands to help mom get set up to breastfeed is, actually, a huge help. Trying to get comfortable, setting up your nursing cover, unsnapping your nursing bra, and positioning the baby, all while holding the baby can be quite difficult.
Dad can get a few extra snuggles in with baby by holding her while mom gets situated, and then he can bring her to mom. This keeps both of mom’s hands free as she is getting set up. This was especially helpful for me in the early weeks after birth, particularly as I was recovering from a C-section.
Burp the Baby
Gassy babies are fussy babies, and gas bubbles can leave baby feeling full even if they have not eaten a full meal or they can leave you with a surprise – spit up, anyone? – when you least expect it.
Burping your baby helps her to get rid of gas from her stomach so she can either finish eating or simply rest easy after a meal. Giving this responsibility to dad after a feeding is another great way for him to be more involved, giving him close, bonding contact with baby after a meal.
Now, some babies, like mine, can be very hard to burp after a meal, and it can be difficult to find the right position for your baby to burp them. If you need some help with burping your baby, watch this video which gives you some positions to try if the standard over-the-shoulder does not work.
For parents who may be exclusively breastfeeding (no bottles), or for babies who may have trouble being separated from mom after a meal, there is still a way that dad can help.
Support Mom and Be Present
You may be thinking, “Of course, I am being supportive,” but what we really mean is to be present and as helpful to mom as you can be during feeding sessions. So, what does this look like?
Breastfeeding can be hard on mom’s body, particularly her shoulders, neck, and back. Offer a massage or back rub while she is nursing to help relieve the tension that builds up as she hovers over the baby.
Dad can still bond with the baby even if mom is exclusively breastfeeding. Physical touch, like stroking her head or cheek, and audible connection, like talking and singing to her, while she is feeding will help her to know that dad is present, too, and can continue to build her connection with him.
There are ways for Dad to get involved with breastfeeding, whether you have decided to exclusively keep baby to the breast or if you have decided to substitute some feedings with a bottle. This can give mom a well-deserved break, allow dad feel more included, and help baby to build a stronger bond with her daddy.
These tips and suggestions we went through are focused on breastfeeding, but there are, of course, many other ways that Dad can build a relationship with baby outside of feeding time.Such as developing a bedtime routine, having him participate in bath time, or just having cuddles, tummy time, and play time together.
Do you have any other tips for getting dad involved with breastfeeding? Be sure to comment below and support other parents like you. And share this article with other parents who may be looking for suggestions with partnered breastfeeding.