Breastfeeding Support from Dad’s Perspective
As a father, I can tell you I am pragmatic about breastfeeding. I found that there are four main benefits of breastfeeding: the spit up doesn’t smell as bad, the diapers don’t smell as bad, it can save your family a lot of money, and most important it is always available (as long as Mom is near).
I wanted to do my part to make breastfeeding easier for both my children and my wife; she is doing the hard work (but is also saving our family money). During those first few weeks after birth, Mom really needs extra rest so I found ways to make sure that she had everything she needed with each feeding. First, I got up in the middle of the night, grabbed a burp cloth, and brought baby to mom. After the feeding, I made it my responsibility to change the new baby. To be honest I didn’t mind this diaper changing thing; it was my opportunity to have skin to skin contact. This was my special time with our new baby and it became my job. I felt like as long as Mom was responsible for feeding, I could change the diaper.
I know that Grandmas and Grandpas also want to be involved with things like feeding the new baby. Especially since this nursing thing was unusual for them (I was adopted and so breastfeeding was not an option); it’s easy for them to feel left out. Burping the baby or bringing mom a cool drink are things anyone could do, even our older son. Sometimes he would just sit and entertain Mom while she was feeding our baby.
I have to say one of my favorite parts of helping was to organize the freezer to accommodate all that stored milk. As a stay at home dad, I was responsible for making sure our system worked so the first milk in was the first milk out. Okay, so I did get to do some of the feedings, but I soon realized there were no “baby” dishes to do if Mom was home, so we saved the frozen milk for when Mom was gone.
Every time I went to the store I checked out the formula prices and realized again how much money we were saving. Okay, so I know that is not the point, but I’m pretty logical and it made sense to me. It was just cool that we each had an important role in our baby’s life; Mom was food and I was clean-up and organization. Together, we were also saving money.
More than anything, I realized this wasn’t necessarily easy, but both of us were focused on the same goal of breastmilk for baby until at least age one. As parents of school-aged children, I now realize that this was the first step of many as parents working together to do what is best for our children. What a great foundation for our family.
Kyle Vogel and Kecia Leary
Kyle is a stay-at-home dad and Kecia is the pediatric dentist at Jordan Valley Community Health Center.
Breastfeeding Support from Mom’s Perspective
Do a little reconnaissance work. Read up on the basics of breastfeeding. Help her find answers to problems on a good website such as www.kellymom.com. And then when she is worried in the middle of the night because your baby is spitting up a lot and she doesn’t know if it’s just spit, reflux, vomit, or something worse (because our Mom-brains will come up with all kinds of things to worry about!), you can look up the differences and figure it out together.
Help get her nursing setup just right. Mom may be sitting down for a while once the baby starts nursing. Offer to change the baby’s diaper while she goes to the bathroom or whatever she needs to do right before settling in. You could also help settle down other children in the house or bring her something to drink.
Offer help with diapers and bathing. These moments are a chance to have some play time with baby. While you are wiping and drying, you can sing songs, tickle, and be silly with baby.
Sit down with her a while. Breastfeeding moms sometimes feel like they are “stuck” in one spot while they are nursing, especially with newborns. Sit down with her a while, cuddle, and talk about your days. Admire all the sweet little things about your baby that you have both noticed lately. Take a few minutes from being so busy with a baby in the house and just enjoy each other’s company.
All of this can be summed into two words: Support Mom. When she doesn’t feel like she’s alone, and when she knows she can rely on you, she will feel immense relief during a time that can also be very stressful. And that helps build stronger relationships all around.
Rebecca is a certified birthing and postpartum doula and mom of two breastfed kids.