Congratulations on the birth of your new baby! You have watched your partner’s belly grow, wiped away her tears, and stood by her side as she gave birth to the most beautiful gift she could ever give you: your child. You have been a pillar of support to your partner over the past 9 months, and now, she needs you again! Together, you have made the decision to breastfeed. You know that breast milk is the absolute best possible source of nutrition for your baby and you want to help your partner be successful in reaching her breastfeeding goals. You want to do your part in helping her succeed. That’s why you’re here!
Would you be surprised to know that the majority of people who contact Lactation Consultants of Central FL are fathers? Would you be surprised that it is often the breastfeeding dad who schedules an appointment for his baby and partner? It’s true! When I open my email or answer the phone and hear the voice of a father seeking help with breastfeeding for his partner I still sit straight up! I WANT to talk to you! I absolutely love when fathers recognize their partner’s need for breastfeeding help and begin researching how they can support their partner in breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding fathers understand their role in caring for their partners, helping with diaper changes, installing the car seat, and accompanying mom to baby’s first doctor’s appointment, etc. But, often times, dads aren’t sure how they can help their partners breastfeed their babies. When their partner experiences challenges with breastfeeding, they often feel helpless. They WANT to help, but they aren’t sure how! My husband will tell you, he can relate.
When I was a first-time mom (that’s my husband, myself, and first-born in the photo above), I endured more than my fair share of breastfeeding problems. Concerns about milk supply; cracked, bleeding, sore nipples; difficulty latching; and toe-curling pain were just a few of the issues I experienced the first few weeks. My husband bore witness to it all. He desperately wanted to help. He hated seeing me and our baby in so much agony! Together, we had decided to breastfeed our baby. But, when it came down to it, he felt like a helpless bystander, unable to assist. I saw the sadness in his eyes and the pain it brought him when I wept. Breastfeeding was not what we thought it would be. Not what the books had led us to believe it would be like. He didn’t know what to do. He tried to offer me words of encouragement. He held my hand and rubbed my back as I cringed while breastfeeding. But, he still felt awful not knowing how to help. Some days he would tell me, “You’re doing great! It will get better!” other days he tried to console me by telling me, “You did your best. It’s OK to quit.” His commit to breastfeeding waned and surged, just as mine did – some days feeling very optimistic and others feeling downright hopeless.
Ultimately, it was my husband who kept my hope alive. It was my husband who encouraged me to seek help from a lactation consultant. He recognized his limitations and understood that HE could influence my decision to breastfeed more than anyone else on this earth.
I owe my success with breastfeeding to my husband.
As a breastfeeding dad, you may be feeling unsure about your role in feeding your baby. And, that’s normal! It’s OK to feel overwhelmed and not sure what to say or do. If you’ve made it to the end of this letter you have already shown your commitment to helping your partner breastfeed. The next step is helping your partner find support! You have a role in feeding your baby. In fact, you have the MOST IMPORTANT role in breastfeeding your baby! Research shows that emotional support from a partner is the most significant factor influencing a mother’s success in reaching her breastfeeding goals. You read that right, YOU, the breastfeeding father, are the critical key component in determining your partner’s ability to breastfeed! How can you help?
Here are a few articles which outline the importance of dad’s role in breastfeeding as well as helpful tips for supporting your partner’s breastfeeding journey:
We want nothing more than to help you and your partner succeed at reaching your own, personal goals for breastfeeding!
Best wishes and happy breastfeeding,
Amy Bassett, BA, CLC, RLC IBCLC
Lactation Consultants of Central FL, LLC