Breastfeeding Basics – Best Advice for New Dads and Partners
We know dads and partners can feel a little helpless when it comes to supporting breastfeeding in the early days, especially with the additional complications of current times. However, we know they play such an integral part in the journey and so we’ve put together some top tips and best advice for new dads.
With the current restrictions meaning the early days with your new arrival may look a little different than first expected, we know this can be tough on dads and partners too and on the role they play.
However, there is still so much a partner can do to support a breastfeeding mama, emotionally as well as in a more practical sense.
We’ve put together our best advice for new dads who may be wanting to learn more about breastfeeding and what they can do to help one they’ve got their precious new baby home.
Know how breastfeeding works
First, it is important to understand that with breastfeeding, there is no such thing as “normal” breastfeeding. Babies might feed 4-10 times a day, for as long as 20 mins or an hour at a time, Babies are very efficient feeders who naturally have the ability to get what they need. After an initial learning curve, babies and mothers tend to get used to each other and respond to what the other needs – mums get better at nursing, and babies get better at latching on and sucking efficiently.
Get to know a few of the key terms of breastfeeding:
- Latching: the act of the baby fully connecting onto to the nipple with its mouth.
- Let down: The process of the mother’s body fully engaging in releasing breastmilk - that ‘gush’ of milk that happens a few moments after the baby starts feeding.
- Colostrum: The early-stage breastmilk that comes during the first few days after the baby’s birth – this milk has special nutrients that are ideal for a newborn.
- Nipple Shield: A breastfeeding accessory that can help babies get a better latch if mum’s nipples are inverted or small, and to help mum recover from sore or cracked nipples.
Understand some of the common problems that breastfeeding mums might face
Breastfeeding is not always “easy,” especially at first! The truth is, that even the most dedicated breastfeeding mums sometimes experience some challenges along the way, such as sore nipples, mastitis, and struggle with latching. Be ready to listen to your partner and offer support for situations that you might never have imagined being part of your life before! Understand that she is learning as she goes and the more you can be educated about her experiences the better.
Know how breast pumping works
If your wife is going back to work full-time, or even if she just wants some additional flexibility for feeding the baby, getting a breast pump might be a good solution. To help you decide which one will work best for your lifestyle, you should check out this guide on choosing the best breast pump.
Learning more about breast pumps can teach you a lot of valuable information such as:
- What is a double pump vs. a single pump?
- How does a breast pump work?
- What is two-phase expression?
- How can you clean a breast pump?
- Where to buy replacement parts?
How to help in practical ways
Many dads can feel out of place when their spouse starts breastfeeding, but the truth is, there are many ways for you to be actively involved and make a valuable contribution to your family’s breastfeeding experience.
Your partner will love you it if you change baby’s nappy, carry your baby in a sling, give your baby a massage, bathe, talk to, read and sing to your baby. You can take even charge of holding and soothing the baby at bedtime to help the baby go to sleep. You just have to find your own unique style – whatever works best for you!
How to learn more about breastfeeding
Just because you are a man, doesn’t mean you can’t be an enthusiastic advocate for partner as she breastfeeds. Be proactive and read up about breastfeeding in books, magazine articles and online on our blog. Your partner is likely researching as well, but when issues come up and she is juggling the baby, if you are well informed and active in supporting her breastfeeding, you can check your resources for high-priority info she needs ASAP. Go with your partner to other breastfeeding support groups if you can, so you know more about what to expect and you can offer her your support when the time comes.
With empathy, understanding, and lots of love and hard work, you can help your partner get through the challenges of breastfeeding – and come out on the other side as a stronger, happier family than ever before.