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Most men who feel left out during pregnancy probably assume that their role in care taking will develop when the baby comes. In a lot of ways, it does! However, if mama chooses to breastfeed (and I strongly believe that if you’re able, you absolutely should!) dad can be unpleasantly surprised at how little time he actually gets to spend with the new little one. While there are lots of ways to include dad in every step of becoming a new daddy beginning in pregnancy, there are also ways to include him in the breastfeeding experience! Here are some things that my hubby and I tried as well as things we wish we would have done better.
- Have your husband burp the baby.
When Nugget was first born, Scotty and I decided I would nurse him throughout the night and he would burp him. This worked great for a few days and I highly recommend this for any daddies who are able to function at night. Apparently, however, my husband is not one of them.
True Story: When Kole was just a few weeks old, I handed him to Scotty in the wee hours of the morning and asked him to burp him. While Scotty was still lying on his back, he took Kole onto his chest so that Kole was laying on his back and began to tap the bottoms of his feet. “Scotty, you have to burp the baby.” “I am burping him…” Continues to pat his feet. “Scotty, you have to actually burp the baby.” “I AM Jamie!”
And that was it for the night wakings for Scotty.
He still insisted that I wake him up, but it was just easier for me to burp Nugget myself. Plus, we had a baby that hardly ever burped, so it became a non-issue. However, with any luck, when Dumplin makes his or her appearance this summer, Scotty WILL be getting up at night and will be burping the baby’s back and not their feet. This mama has finally learned to ask for help and delegate! J
- Have your husband get you your nursing supplies.
Since Nugget was a preemie, he didn’t catch on to breastfeeding very quickly and I really didn’t either. A nipple shield saved our breastfeeding relationship. If you’ve never heard of these and are having issues nursing, I highly recommend trying one. Your lactation consultant can probably give you one, or you can purchase them at Walmart or Target for around $11. It is simply a thin silicone shield designed to fit over your nipple and help baby latch. It worked WONDERS for Nugget and I.
When it was time to nurse and Scotty was home, he’d go get my nipple shield for me. He’d also get me all set up with my nursing pillow if I wanted it and get our baby for me. This made him feel like he was essential to helping me feed our little one. In the first few weeks, I was so exhausted that I really probably couldn’t have done it without all of his help. Ask your hubby to get these essentials for you! The best part is that you can then relax and focus on perfecting your new baby’s latch and your posture as you nurse. Daddy gets to feel needed and included. Win-win!
- Take a breastfeeding class together.
Our birth center required all first time moms to take a breastfeeding class and fathers were encouraged to come. Unfortunately, Kole made his big debut before we ever got around to taking it. This saved us over a hundred dollars for the class, but cost me dearly in information that I didn’t even know I didn’t have.
I swear that breastfeeding is the hardest part of having a baby – and I had a natural delivery! Sign yourselves up for a breastfeeding class and go together with notebook in hand. Lactation consultants are baby whisperers – seriously. I feel like I would have been so much more confident as a first-time mama if I had known exactly what to expect with breastfeeding. The beauty of breastfeeding classes is that it also helps dad understand what a huge undertaking it is. It’s a lot of work, but it’s such a beautiful experience and SO worth it!
- Get hubby involved in pumping!
In the beginning, it was a struggle to get my supply up. The lactation consultant at our birth center encouraged me to pump after each session that I possibly could. I was so dedicated to increasing my supply that I pumped after literally every nursing session.
If you’ve ever breastfed a newborn, you know how often that is! Scotty would help me out by cleaning out my pump parts and making sure everything was ready to go for my next pumping session. For some reason, I found cleaning the pump to be so tedious and time-consuming even though looking back, it probably took all of 2 minutes. Patience is NOT my strong point! Having a partner in pumping to help me with the annoying parts that I hated motivated me to keep going.
- Have hubby get you a snack and drink during every nursing session.
This is something Scotty and I didn’t do with Nugget, but plan to do with Dumplin. Our Bradley Method teacher actually told us in our classes that it’s important for dad to get mom a snack and water during nursing because breastfeeding can leave you feeling ravenous and dehydrated.
When Nugget first came, Scotty was working so many hours at work that I didn’t have him around until the nightly breastfeeding sessions, and consequently I wasn’t eating or drinking anything all day. The stress of a newborn coupled with the postpartum anxiety I was experiencing made me not feel hungry at all. The baby weight melted off at first (though I quickly found a way to put it right back on!) and I wasn’t doing anything to take care of myself. Scotty would come home from work and force me to eat dinner.
Don’t make my mistakes! The best way for a new daddy to help with nursing the new baby is to make sure mama is well taken care of! By nurturing me and helping me to get the nutrients and fluids I need, my husband is helping me to relax and just focus on creating our breastfeeding relationship.
- Let daddy give baby a bottle.
Now this one should only happen after your lactation consultant has given you the go-ahead. After your supply is steady and you’re able to pump enough milk to give baby a bottle, I highly recommend giving yourself a break and letting hubby feed the baby now and then.
Scotty didn’t give Kole a bottle until he was 3 months old because I was so worried about nipple confusion. In the beginning, Scotty would give Kole breastmilk using a dropper or a syringe. This worked great for us and gave Scott the satisfaction of feeding our Nugget without aggravating my fears about nipple confusion. There are lots of great instructions on www.kellymom.com regarding cup and spoon feeding too. Now that Kole is a year old and still nursing, I can honestly say whatever we did really worked. We never encountered nipple confusion and even though I’m pregnant and my supply is dwindling, my son still enthusiastically accepts breastfeeding even when a bottle of cow’s milk or juice is offered. If you take your time and exclusively breastfeed for as long as it takes to create a strong breastfeeding relationship, I’m confident you’ll have an equally wonderful experience!
Most people, myself included, initially think that breastfeeding is all about mama and baby, but really, dad can and should be involved too. Breastfeeding is the best thing you can do for your baby on so many levels and I am a firm believer that hubby shouldn’t miss out on it. Give these tips a try and watch your husband enthusiastically support your breastfeeding relationship.
Are there any strategies you’ve used to include daddy in breastfeeding? Let me know in the comments!