How Dad Can Support a Breastfeeding Mama
Setting us up for success from day one.
There are certain things only a mother can do.
Staying healthy during pregnancy, birthing a baby, and breastfeeding your little one are all tasks that fall upon moms. As a mom of five, I’m awed at the way my body can grow, birth, and nourish a baby.
If I’m honest though, I do get tired.
When we have a newborn, I can easily spend over four hours a day breastfeeding. While some of the time is likely to fall overnight, a majority of it is throughout the day when I would otherwise be doing something else.
As hour upon hour of breastfeeding stacks up, I begin to feel a lot of emotions. Often there’s relief that I can just sit and rest. Other times anxiety creeps in as I begin to think about all the tasks left unfinished.
Thankfully, we’ve learned some tricks for how my husband can support me while I breastfeed our babies. It’s resulted in less stress for me and has led me to slow down and enjoy breastfeeding. Perhaps most importantly, it’s led us to transition away from the mindset that breastfeeding is solely a mother’s job.
Tips for How Dad Can Support a Breastfeeding Mama
The Early Days
Those first days with a newborn are some of the best and hardest. You’re getting to know a brand-new person while balancing feeding, catching a nap, and keeping up with the dishes. Luckily there are lots of ways my husband and I work together to keep baby fed and happy.
Perhaps the most basic way dads can support breastfeeding mamas is asking what they can do to help.
Often in the early days, a snack or refill of water are needed as thirst and hunger can come on very quickly while I’m feeding baby. As baby grows and you’re more settled, taking on additional chores around the house can be very helpful as so many hours are spent feeding a baby instead of working around the house.
If there are older siblings, the early days of breastfeeding are prime times for Dad to really engage little ones. Practicing how to sit quietly and read or play while Mom is feeding is helpful practice for when Dad may return to work.
For the middle of the night feedings, my husband is the one who gets out of bed and changes the baby. He also will often put baby back to bed for me following a feeding. Could I do these things myself? Sure, but this is one way he supports me.
The most important way my husband supports me as a breastfeeding mama is to encourage me. Some days are difficult, nights are long, and babies are fussy; he’s there to remind me of what’s going well and problem-solve any issues that may arise.
Heading Back to Work
Although I’ve been home with my kids since my rainbow baby was born, I am still in the habit of pumping first thing everyday. I use this extra milk for baby’s first feeding (part of our morning routine) and to have on hand if I need to be away from my littlest one.
With pumping comes extra tasks. There are pump parts to wash and sanitize, as well as milk to label, store, and freeze. My husband has graciously taken these on as his chores and it is one of the major ways he supports me as a breastfeeding mama.
If you’re going to be pumping or heading back to work, consider asking dad to take on the job of sanitizing parts and prepping your pumping supplies for the day.
While tradition dictates that nourishing a baby is a mother’s sole responsibility, I push back at that idea. With the help of my unwavering husband, I know we’ve got this. When he supports me as a breastfeeding mama, he’s setting our family up for success.
Jess Wartinger resides in rural New York with her husband and five children. Formerly an early elementary teacher, Jess currently spends her time loving her kids and holding down the fort at home.