Dads Play an Important Role in Breastfeeding
The Magical Bond of Love and Family
As you and your partner expand your family circle, you will have many new experiences as a father.
Taking care of your family is a big responsibility, and you want to protect them and make healthy choices. That is why encouraging your partner to breastfeed is important.
Breast Milk Is Healthiest for Babies
- Breast milk is easier to digest. Breastfed babies have less diarrhea, constipation, and colic.
- Breast milk contains antibodies to fight infections.
- Babies may have less risk of becoming obese, having diabetes, and developing other diseases.
- Breastfed babies have a lower risk of asthma, allergies, and certain cancers.
- Breast milk contains special ingredients to promote brain growth.
How Fathers Can Help
Some fathers think they may feel left out if their partner breastfeeds the new baby. But there are many ways you can help your partner care for your baby.
- Help with housework and cooking.
- Help limit the number of visitors and visiting time. New moms do need plenty of rest!
- Bathe and dress your baby. Change his diapers. Sing and talk to your baby. If you see the baby searching for mom’s breast, sucking his fist, or making sucking noises, take him to mom for a feeding. Cuddle and protect her while she feeds the baby.
It takes time for mom to learn how to breastfeed.
If your partner is uncomfortable or has pain, it may be because the baby is not latching on correctly or because she is engorged. Many new mothers need help in the beginning. Contact a WIC breastfeeding counselor who can help her stay on track.
Take the baby to mom when she is ready to feed. Look at your baby’s tiny fist and remember: that is about the same size as his or her stomach! The baby will need to nurse often, every 1½ to 3 hours, around the clock.
Mom’s early milk, called colostrum, is there from the beginning and is the only food the baby needs. Colostrum’s special role is to help your newborn stay healthy. It is filled with important vitamins, minerals, proteins, and immunities. Between the third and fifth days after birth, mom will start to feel fullness in her breasts, indicating her milk has come in.
Do not give your baby water or formula in the first weeks. Feeding the baby anything other than breast milk interferes with mom’s ability to produce enough milk.
Let Your Partner Know How Proud You Are
Breastfeeding is a loving commitment. Let your partner know how proud you are of her accomplishment! Sometimes moms worry that their babies are not getting enough milk. You can reassure her that the baby is getting plenty of breast milk in a number of ways:
- Baby is interested in feeding every 1½ to 3 hours, around the clock.
- Baby wakes to feed.
- Mom can see or hear your baby swallowing.
- Baby appears satisfied and content after feeding.
- Mom’s breast softens during the feeding.
- Baby has 3–5 wet diapers and 3–4 soiled diapers by 3–5 days of age.
- Baby has 4–6 wet diapers and 3–6 soiled diapers per day by 5–7 days of age.
- Baby’s poops are yellow and seedy (by day 3).
Do not worry if your baby loses a little weight in the first few days. After about 5 days, the baby should gain 4–8 ounces or more per week with breast milk. After 6 weeks, the number
of dirty diapers may decrease.
You Can Bond With the Baby Too!
- Babies love skin-to-skin contact with their daddies!
- Talk, sit, sing, rock, read to, burp, or diaper the baby.
- Make some time just for you and your baby - babies need cuddles and hugs from their dads too!
Breastfeeding Is Healthiest for Mom
- Breastfeeding helps mom’s uterus shrink to its pre-pregnancy size.
- It may help mom lose weight faster.
- It reduces her risk for breast and ovarian cancer, and osteoporosis (brittle bones) later in life.
- It saves on formula, bottles, utilities, and medical bills.
- It reduces sick days used by working mothers.
- It’s good for the environment because there is less trash and plastic waste.