What About Dad?
Even though mom has the breasts, Dad has an important role to play too. In fact, many professionals consider the father to be an essential part of the breastfeeding team.
Dad’s most important role is to support his breastfeeding partner. This doesn’t just mean making her tea and fluffing her pillows (though those are very nice things, indeed). Dad can help by gently encouraging mom and baby as they learn to breastfeed. Perfecting latch-on and finding the right nursing positions is not always easy. Having a supportive partner can make all the difference. Dad can also act as a barrier, protecting his partner from well-meaning people who do not think that breastfeeding is a good idea.
Dad can also help by getting the baby at night if baby is not cosleeping. He can burp baby and calm a fussy baby. Oftentimes fathers report that a baby will calm more readily for him than for mom. This may be because when a fussy baby is in mom’s arms, he looks for a breast, but then refuses when it is offered because he is already full. In Dad’s arms, baby knows there is no breast available and may fall asleep faster.
When expressed milk is used, Dad can give baby a bottle. But make sure not to give baby a bottle in the first few weeks so she won’t become nipple confused.
It is also important to remember that breastfeeding is not the only way to bond with baby. Bathing, changing, and comforting baby are all wonderful ways to bond, and Dad can do all of them. Still not feeling bonded? Grab the sling and take baby for a walk. You get to have baby close and mom gets a much-needed break. Too tired for a walk? Take a nap with baby. Most babies love to fall asleep on Dad’s chest.