A Dad’s guide to breastfeeding
A Dad’s guide to breastfeeding – everything you need to know!
Advice and tips from Sioned Hilton, Lactation Consultant at Medela UK
The first three weeks
If your partner has made the decision to breastfeed, there are a few things you should be aware of so you can know exactly how you can support her during this special time. Sioned Hilton, our Lactation Consultant at Medela UK has over twenty of years of experience working with breastfeeding mums and has some excellent tips for Dads.
In the beginning, the most important thing is for Mum to get breastfeeding established. Sioned advises that the best way to do this is by letting your partner exclusively breastfeed for the first three weeks day and night. Just because you aren’t physically involved with the feeding, it doesn’t mean you can’t help out. Make sure she has plenty of water to hand whilst she is feeding, that she is comfortable and grabs a nap when the baby is sleeping.
As your partner will be doing all the feeding during these first few weeks, try and find something special you can do with your little one. For example take charge of bath time, winding (burping) or dressing baby. You can also be the one to take baby out for a spin in the car if they are unsettled – and don’t forget also support mum!
Skin to skin contact is a great way to bond with baby, but it’s not just for mums. Skin to skin triggers the hormone oxytocin which is associated with love and caring. Try it out for yourself, but remember to pop a nappy on baby first!
When you are out and about with your new baby it’s likely your partner will need to feed your little one. Find a quiet, friendly spot and enjoy a coffee together. If you feel comfortable and confident, she will relax knowing that you are supporting her. Keeping calm will help her to latch baby with minimal fuss, and your new baby will happily enjoy a feed oblivious to what is going on around.
Things to remember at this stage:
- Even one or two bottle feeds of formula can affect mums milk supply especially if these are evening and night feeds
- The hormones that control milk production are at their highest at night
- 64% of breast feeding babies have both night and day breastfeeds with 44% of their milk intake during the evening and night.
- If baby isn’t feeding well seek advice from a local breastfeeding group or national help lines from NCT, ABM, La Leche league or drop a post on the Medela Facebook page.
- Don’t overdo it with the visitors; this is special time for you as a family to adjust to a whole new routine. Enjoy it while you can.
Three weeks and beyond
Of course, Dads cannot breastfeed, but once mum is established in her milk production and baby is feeding well and gaining weight, mum can start expressing. Start with just one breast just in-case baby want to have a feed until mum is more aware of her feeding pattern and frequency. Don’t worry too much about the volume of expressed milk – it’s what is in it that makes it liquid gold! Check out this picture which shows you exactly how milk babies really need.
Here are some expressing tips that are good for you both to know:
- Try expressing from the left whilst you feed from the right, or vice versa. The skin to skin contact and act of baby feeding will stimulate more milk to flow.
- If you are expressing away from your baby, have a photo or an item of their worn clothing to hand or something that reminds you of them, this will also make it easier for you.
- Find a time to express that you know your baby is most settled between feeds – many mums find this to be mid-morning to mid-afternoon.
- Your body is very clever and works with you to ensure that baby will always have enough milk. Expressing milk will not affect your supply, or use up milk for later feeds!
- Single pumping tip: When you pump one breast at a time, switch from one side to the other several times.
- Massage your breasts before and occasionally during pumping to encourage you let-down and milk flow.
- Expressed milk, can be stored in the fridge for 3-5 days or in the freezer for 6 months. Once removed from the freezer use within 24 hrs. Make sure you use it all in chronological order.
Once you’ve got expressing cracked, you can give a few feeds with the Calma Feeding Device – this means that mum and baby can continue to breastfeed with a smooth transition between breast and bottle but remember if dads do a feed mum will still need to breastfeed or express so that she doesn’t get engorged!
Good luck, and remember Dads are most welcome at the Medela Drop in Clinic every Tuesday between 8.30 am and 5.30pm and our Breastfeeding Café on the third Wednesday of the month at 7.30pm – both are virtual events held on our Facebook page.