*photo by Live Happy Studio
Dear Fellow Dads,
Learning to breast feed can be complicated. If your wife wants to try breast feeding, our job as the partner is to be fully supportive! She has just been through a very tough birth experience (vaginal delivery or c-section) and is on the road to recovery, but that is only the first of her hurdles. Her next huge hurdle, if she chooses, is to teach her new baby to breast feed. For you men out there, that means that you need to have at least a basic understanding of breast feeding.
Yes Daddy, her breasts have taken a different form and they serve a much higher purpose now…the purpose for which they were put there…to feed your newborn child. There are many things you can do to help her and in this post I am happy to mention three of them. See, breast feeding is at the top of my mind right now in our family. My wife, the trooper that she is, was fortunate enough to have her milk come in and was determined to breast feed. I am constantly in awe of her passion and dedication to our new son. Even as I type this post, I can simply look to my left and see this miracle happen as I am on standby for anything that she needs.
Ok, without further delay, here are the three things that you can do as a new father, to help your wife breast feed:
1. Be Her Biggest Cheerleader – Never and I mean never, make her feel like she cannot do this. If you are like me, you want to fix things…as quickly as possible. You want to find a solution. So, breast feeding struggles might lead you to suggest formula well before you need to. I definitely fell into this trap. You might not mean to make her feel like she can’t do this, but there are some key words that you can say to ensure that she knows that you support her. Words and phrases like “I believe in you” and “I am amazed by you” are all good things. See your pediatrician regularly and they will help you to know if/when the introduction of formula would be necessary. Breast feeding is hard and with your support, she will feel like a rock star.
2. Make An Appointment With A Lactation Specialist – A Lactation Specialist is someone who can help your wife become a pro on breast feeding in just a few hours…one sometimes. See, in the hospital there are Lactation Specialists that come in and help her try to get your baby on the breast but in the early days after she has given birth she only has colostrum coming out prior to her milk. Colostrum is a wonderful substance that will deliver a great amount of nutrients to your baby, but the hard part begins after she leaves the hospital and her milk comes in and her breasts are full of milk or “engorged.” Ask the hospital where you delivered how you can make an appointment with one of their specialists. We had a meeting with ours and it was a game changer. Yes it is expensive (around $125) but look at it this way…four weeks of formula costs about that and if your wife can breast feed, you will save WAY more than that. Second…many times these private consultations are covered by insurance if you have it.
3. Create A Calm Environment – When you get home and have had some time to settle, ask your wife if you can take a second to set up a calm breast feeding environment for her. Ask her where she would like to breast feed that is calm and quiet for her. If you are like me and have other kids in the house, a quiet place can be hard to find, but I found that our master bedroom worked really well. Light some candles, clean it up a bit. Make it nice and calm. Sit by her side and help her while she breast feeds. Ask her if there is anything you can get her. Ask like this: “What can I get you?” or “What can I do for you?”
There are many things you can do to help your wife have a successful breastfeeding experience. If you are not sure what to do…ask her. She will guide you and let you know how to help. If things get a bit crazy, you can always call one of her best girlfriends in for help (with your wife’s permission of course). Women have a great way of connecting with each other that we may never understand!
Best of luck to you and your new baby! I am sure you will be seeing more baby posts from me in the future.
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