Did you know that Dad's role in caring for the baby is often misunderstood? Some say that a father cannot bond with his baby if he doesn't help in feeding the baby. There is so much more to nurturing a baby than just feeding. In fact, did you know that Dad is the first person to demonstrate to baby that food does not always equate love.
Dads can often enhance bonding by:
*Having eye-to-eye contact
*Taking their babies for walks
*Holding baby close and talking to him or her. (when baby is fussy, often the sound of Dad's voice and his touch will calm baby down)
*Rocking, cuddling, playing and bathing the baby
*Changing and burping the baby
Dad's thoughts are important in deciding whether their baby will be breastfed. Many fathers say it makes no difference how Mom chooses to feed their baby, until they learn the difference between breastmilk and formula. Once Dads realize that breastmilk is by far the best for their babies, they usually encourage Mom to nurse. Just a few of the many differences and benefits include:
*Formula has only about 60 ingredients, breastmilk has over 200
*Breastmilk has many ingredients that cannot be put into formula
*Many illnesses that babies are exposed to are reduced or prevented by breastfeeding
*Moms who nurse often have less depression after the baby is born, and breastfeeding can lower the risk to mom of certain cancers later in life
*Breastfeeding saves money
A few special ways that Dad can be involved and help support mom are:
*Changing baby's diaper
*Get mom something to drink, eat, and/or read while she is nursing
*Take over child care between nursings so mom can get some rest, or have a little time to herself
*Do grocery shopping and share in household chores
*Tell your partner that she is doing a good job and that you think what she is doing is important!!
*Share with friends, and family that your partner is doing something unique and wonderfully important for your baby.
A FATHER'S SUPPORT IS IMPORTANT TO SUCCESSFUL BREASTFEEDING!
The first few weeks of breastfeeding are the most challenging. Moms are often exhausted and/or experiencing discomfort from childbirth. It is during this time that fathers can be most helpful. Some questions Dads often ask:
*IS BABY GETTING ENOUGH? Most new parents worry about this. REMEMBER it is normal for baby to lose a little weight in the first few days of life. As long as your baby is nursing 8 to 12 times in 24 hours, wetting 6 to 10 diapers and having 2 - 4 bowel movements a day, your baby is getting enough milk. Breastfeeding works by supply and demand. The more a baby nurses, the more milk mother will have. Encourage mom to nurse often.
*IS BREASTFEEDING PAINFUL? Breastfeeding should NOT hurt. There may be some discomfort the first week or 10 days, but there should be NO lasting pain. If mother is experiencing pain beyond the initial transient soreness, encourage her to call her Lactation Consultant. In the meantime she can use the treatments recommended for nipple soreness.
*ARE MY PARTNER'S BREASTS "OFF LIMITS" AND WHAT ABOUT SEX? Breastfeeding doesn't mean that that breasts are "off limits". It is good to know that in the early months of breastfeeding, the same hormone that is released during orgasm also generally causes milk to eject, so do not be surprised if Mom's milk lets-down (and/or sprays) during lovemaking. If this bothers you or your partner, she may be able to lessen this possibility by nursing your little one just prior to lovemaking. This can also help to increase the possibility that you will have a bit of uninterrupted time together while baby sleeps. Mom can also wear a sexy bra (with pads inserted to absorb leaking) if both of you are okay with this.
Mom may experience some vaginal dryness due to the hormonal influences of breastfeeding. Knowing this isn't because she's not interested can help prevent unnecessary tension and frustration for both dad and mom. You can read more on vaginal dryness and how to work through this here.
Remember, lots of understanding, good communication, frequent hugs, and a touch of humor can help mom and dad through these early days of parenting.
*WILL SHE HAVE TO NURSE IN PUBLIC, AND HOW CAN SHE DO THAT WITHOUT EXPOSING HERSELF?
Mom doesn't "have" to nurse in public, but with a little practice at home in front of a mirror, often she can learn to nurse the baby very discreetly. Many mothers soon become very adept at putting baby to breast and nurse just about where ever and whenever they want to.
There are some mothers, however, who are very shy or uncomfortable with nursing in public. To help in this situation, she can try a few different things. If she is in a department store, and there is no nursing lounge, she can slip into a dressing room for a few moments and nurse the baby there. She can also nurse in the car just prior to going inside, weather permitting. In a restaurant, try sitting in a back booth, and let mom sit on the inside, where you can shield her from view. Reassure her that she is not exposed, and/or help her with suggestions/adjustments to make it easier. You can read more about nursing in public on Kelly's Breastfeeding and Attachment Parenting Information site.
*WHERE DO WE FIND ACCURATE AND RELIABLE INFORMATION ON BREASTFEEDING?
One of the most reliable sources of breastfeeding information is the La Leche League. There are also many useful and informative books, videos, and websites on breastfeeding. Your local library should have material available on breastfeeding. Your health care provider and/or your local Health Department (WIC department) may also have some excellent breastfeeding information. In addition, there is a wealth of information regarding breastfeeding on the Internet. You can find various links to breastfeeding sites under LINKS TO BREASTFEEDING SITES.