Sure, breastfeeding is natural and best for baby, but it’s not always easy for mom — or you. Although it can be difficult to determine exactly what your role is in what often appears to be a mom-centered activity, you play an equally important one. Here’s what you can do to better prepare before and after baby is born.
What dads need to know — it’s not just a mom thing
Arm yourself with knowledge about the importance of breastfeeding and the life-giving benefits of breast milk, and seek information from experts. Attend a parenting or birthing class with your wife, and visit web sites for dads. Consider helping mom look into breastfeeding tools, such as nursing clothing and a fast and effective breast pump, which might make the nursing process easier.
At the hospital
Protect the health of your newborn and make sure your wishes are followed
It’s natural for all parents to be a little nervous about what to expect during delivery. And beyond coordinating the discharge process and installing the car seat, it’s hard to know how to best serve the needs of your wife and newborn. If you and your wife are planning to breastfeed, help by communicating that clearly to the nurses and doctors. Pay attention and ask questions to make sure your baby is not fed formula. If you have a visit from a lactation consultant, don’t take it as your cue to hit the vending machine. Stay and take notes, your wife will appreciate easy access to these tips in the coming days.
How new dads can support mom during the transition
Adjusting to life with a newborn is a challenge. During this time, mom experiences a tumultuous drop in pregnancy hormones, and now, more than ever, depends on your support to breastfeed successfully. Be attentive and sensitive to mom’s needs. Listen intently, and offer positive feedback and affirmation. A dad who goes above and beyond tending to and nurturing his newborn and wife — even if it’s picking up extra chores around the house — is a hero.
The road ahead
Guarding the liquid gold
Even after those initial months, mom needs your help to forge ahead. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for at least a year, and then for as long as mutually desirable for mom and baby. As nature’s perfect food, breast milk provides a host of health benefits for baby — from antibodies that protect against infection during the first few months of life, to a boost in emotional, physical and intellectual development. Help achieve your breastfeeding goals by offering to wake up to give midnight feedings of pumped breast milk. Take the initiative to learn proper breast milk storage techniques. Medela.com has in-depth instruction on how best to handle and store breast milk.
Your continued support and encouragement can help keep mom on track to ensure your little one enjoys the full benefits of breastfeeding.