I know a lot of guys that cringe at even the sound of that. They just don’t know how to help, don’t know anything about it, or just plain and simple don’t want anything to do with it. They picture their beautiful wives and girlfriends, turned into monsters by lack of sleep and hormones! I think what some guys fail to realize is the importance that breastfeeding can have in your child’s life.
First, if you’re going to be a father, there’s a couple things we can all agree you need to take care of:
- The kid(s). Obviously, this is the most important part, kids benefit hugely from a having a father in their lives, and I’m sure we’ll get into that in another blog post.
- The relationship. Whether you’re with the mom, separated, adoptive parents, or any form of parenting; chances are you have someone else helping you out. This post is mostly for those of you in a more traditional setting, when mom + dad + kid = a lot of questions.
- All the other stuff. I’m talking financial stuff, work stuff, extended family stuff, all sorts of good ‘stuff.’ This stuff, in my opinion, should typically take a back seat to your kids, but that’s a debate for another time.
So, your wife/girlfriend/baby mama says: “I want to breastfeed.”
What do you do?
Hopefully, after reading this post, you’ll know how to help a bit. But first, let’s cross a few things off. Assuming you’re the father in the traditional sense, you can’t breastfeed your kid. Period. Your body just won’t do it. So the only thing left is to help, and I think we need to keep in mind the most important thing of fatherhood we agreed on above, the kiddo.
A lot of this is common sense, but here’s a few things for dads to try if they want to take an active role in breastfeeding:
- Be supportive. She needs a cheerleader. Be there for her, you need to make sure she knows she’s doing an awesome job and that she has you in her corner.
- Be thoughtful. This one goes a step further, don’t just tell her you support breastfeeding, but actively try to help out. See if she needs a glass of water, pick up a new book or magazine on your way home, or something else that will help her out.
- Be willing to get up in the middle of the night. For the first couple of weeks (at least) that baby is going to want to eat every few hours in the middle of the night. Don’t always make her get up. Take the nightshift sometimes, go get the kiddo, bring them over and hand off to mom. Trust me, if mom doesn’t have to get up in the middle of the night every time, it’s easier on everyone the next morning (especially you!)
- Be a multi-tasker. If she’s getting up in the middle of the night, get up and make breakfast, or maybe run the errands in the morning. Any little extra thing you do will help immensely. An ounce of effort will probably feel like a ton of help to her, and that’s good for the whole family in the long run.
Remember to try and be a team whenever you can. It’s best for the kid and definitely best for the two of you in the long run. Despite all of its benefits, breastfeeding isn’t easy, but helpful dads can make it a lot better. Hopefully some of the things in this post help you to help her!
From the moment I found I was pregnant, I knew I was going to breastfeed. Formula is fine and all, but I wanted the absolute best for my baby. When it was time to start preparing for his arrival, people would ask me what kind of formula I planned on giving him. When I said that I planned on strictly breastfeeding, everyone had an opinion. I heard everything from your breast are going to sag to its not gonna be enough for him because he needs formula. I did not care because it was important to me. When my son was finally born his sugars were low, so he had to stay in the NICU. The nurses told me that he needed my milk to get his sugars up. I pumped my heart out and barely got a tablespoon of milk. She told me that if I did not produce enough, it would be best to give him some formula. I cried and cried when I finally decided to give him formula. It was so important to me that I breastfed and gave him the best and created that bond, so I did not give up. I fed him and pumped for a week before my milk finally came in and I could take him off of formula. There was no better feeling in the world than knowing that I was the only person in the world that could give him this one thing. I was the sole provided of his nutrients, and I took pride in that. When he was 3 months old, it was time for me to go back to school and again I had to face the heart wrenching decision of giving him formula. I felt like I was letting him down. I WAS DEDICATED. In the end, I decided it was best for both of us that I gave him both. He is now 7 months old and I am still at it. He has 4 teeth and he is a biter. I thought it was time to call it quits, but I can’t. It’s a special bond that we share and I am not ready to give it up.
Breast is Best!
I knew as soon as I found out that I was pregnant that I wanted to breastfeed my son. I went and did as much research as I could. WIC provided some great resources and my midwife gave me a lot of suport. Some of my family was very supportive and some just told me not to get my hopes up- that it’s very difficult. For me I paid them no mind honestly, I knew what I wanted to do.
However, skipping ahead to my labor and birth; nothing went as planned. I ended up having a c-section. My son was born with low blood sugar so had to be taken to the NICU. I gave birth to my son at 6:55am and did not hold him till 3:30 that afternoon. He was given a bottle and a pacifier, and no one told me that I should have pumped. I was nervous and very upset that I would not be able to breastfeed my son. In the hospital I would breastfeed him then give him a bottle then I would go and pump. The process took awhile, it was a lot of work; I honestly didn’t know how long I could keep up with it.
I did this continuously for about two weeks before my milk supply was enough for him. I was so excited to be able to just feed him off of my breasts. I experienced my first cluster feed with only feeding him off of my breast. It was pretty scary at first I felt like I didn’t have enough milk, and it felt like all I was doing was feeding him. I mean sleep? I barley experienced that in my first two months with my son. But cluster feeding is a topic for another day.
I ended up getting mastitis, an infection of the breast, when my son was almost two months old. This infection was horrible; flu like symptoms, 104 fever, and having to take care of my son on top of that. I remember there was a point at where I made a bed on the floor and put the heater on my back, because I had the chills that bad and breastfed him like that. As a result of this infection I lost my milk supply. I was back to square one. I was so discouraged. I was so upset. A part of me felt like I was failing my son. I did everything to get my milk supply back up, but I am still only making 3-4oz for him when he needs 5-6oz per feeding. So as of now I am breastfeeding and bottle feeding my son. At first I was self-conscious to feed my son a bottle after I breastfed him. Other times I was self-conscious to breastfeed him. I was worried about what people thought, was worried that they would judge me for the way I choose to feed my son. It’s something…getting nervous about what other people think about how I feed my son.
My son has always gotten excited when it is time to breastfeed, but now I see him get excited when I make a bottle. So what is my son truly excited about? That he is being fed, that I am taking care of him and nourishing him. I think as women there is so much judgment about breast or bottle, bottle or breast. Whatever choice you make; breast or bottle (or both) your baby will be thankful. However, I feel as women, we need to encourage and support each other no matter how we feed our baby. We do not know everyone’s story of why they choose to feed their baby the way they do. So as women lets empower each other.
I breastfed my daughter for a year and six months (maybe a little more). I do not remember exactly when I stopped breastfeeding, even though it was a huge moment in both Lily’s life and mine. I tried to stop breastfeeding as soon as she became 11 months but breastfeeding was heaven for me. I gained an amazing connection with my daughter that I will forever be thankful for. I believe that our bond became stronger because my daughter felt safe, happy, and comfortable through this experience. After lily shots or when she was sick I would breastfeed her and that would calm her down in seconds. I never had to struggle to put my daughter to sleep as soon as she was on the breast she would drift away. My daughter and I were in our own bubble when I was breastfeeding her.
My daughter’s health is great and I believe breastfeeding was the cause of this. It is rare for my daughter to get sick; she does not get as sick as other children in the winter. So I am thrilled that she does not have health issues.
Breastfeeding was comforting to my daughter. I know that when I breastfeed lily she was more relaxed and happy. Everyone in my life supported my decision for breastfeeding. I would have my mother Spanish remedies to increasing my milk supply. I think that having this support made a difference in the connection that I had with my daughter. Having people cheer you on about breastfeeding is great and makes you want to continue and make the experience last a little bit longer.
I weighed 150 lbs. when I gave birth. After I stopped breastfeeding I weighed 98. Losing this weight was bittersweet. It was bad because I wanted to gain more weight after birth, but the good thing is that my body looked great afterwards. I could not believe that breastfeeding could cause such a weight change.
I stopped breastfeeding because I was becoming too skinny, my daughter used my boobs for comfort, and my schedule did not work with breastfeeding. My daughter would want to stay on the breast all day. She would pull my shirt and position herself for it, would play and watch TV while still being on the breast. It was weird to have her do this. But even with those negatives I wanted to continue breastfeeding.
It was empowering. I felt like any other mother out there. I did not feel just like a young mother, I felt like a powerful mom. Breastfeeding makes you feel powerful. That’s what I loved about it. I feel that my body was made to nurture a child. If I could go back in time, I would do it all over again to gain those emotions and awesome breastfeeding moments.
Tips on breastfeeding:
- Always have that medical soothing for sore breast. It helps to apply it when the breast hurts. Helping to prevent sore breast.
- Drink lots of fluid throughout the day. The more you drink the more your breast supply.
- Remember what you eat and drink will influence what your child eats and drinks
- Wear clothing that is easy to pull your breast out easily.
- Turtle necks are a hassle when trying to breast feed
- Breastfeeding bra are great but not necessarily needed.
- Do not through away all your old bras, you may actually go back to the same cup.
Leave a comment below with your questions and tips!
#YPsupport chat hosted by STEPS boston was awesome. Numerous young moms and a few young dads joined in to discuss breastfeeding.We all know the positive and negative feedback that older mothers receive, but it was great for young moms to share their stories.
STEPS Boston has provided a venue to openly discuss our young parent experiences without the fear of being judged. In yesterdays chat, we shared stories about our choices to breastfeed or not, how much encouragement we received, and how to encourage young father’s to become more aware and supportive of breastfeeding. There were negative stories of people’s unsensitive reactions to young mother’s pumping at school and people’s comments of how breastfeeding will affect our bodies. But there were also positive stories, of young mothers receiving support from their hospitals, lactation programs, and other supportive individuals.The best part about the chat is that we all felt comfortable to share our positive, negative, and some embarrassing stories on breastfeeding.
#YPsupport chats hosted by STEPS Boston has developed a great online community of young parents that are supportive and accepting of each other. The invitation is extended to other young parents looking for a great supportive community and/or that just need a place to talk with others going through similar situations.
If you would like to read the entire conversation, please visit the STEPS Storify page for the complete list of questions and answers from young parents.
Thank you to all of our wonderful participants!
Live young parent chats are
every Tuesday at 8 PM EST!
My breastfeeding journey started after delivering my son over 4 years ago. I labored the majority of my 26 hours at home and when I got to the hospital, I was only 5 cm dilated. After making to it 9 cm, I eventually delivered via C-section to a healthy 8.1 lbs. baby. After feeling defeated, I now know that lead to my many challenges. I could not hold my son without the assistance of the hospital’s Lactation Counselor and eventually decided to give him formula because I feared him starving to death 1 day after he was born. One of my best friends would not let me feel defeated because she knew how much of a breastfeeding advocate I was and that I was always there to provide the support for mothers who have had breastfeeding challenges. Since I was having difficulty with latching, she purchased a Medela pump ($400 value) and had it delivered to me the next day. 13 months later, I exclusively pumped. My son never received formula again once I started pumping.
I eventually became a WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor in Miami-Dade County where I was the only exclusively pumping mother. Most mothers did not exclusively pump, let alone for over a year. I than began to work for Healthy Start as a Care Coordinator, and had first-hand accounts of how the lack of support played a major role in a woman’s decision to breastfeed. I became pregnant in 2010 with my daughter and I was adamant to breastfeed. When she was born at home, she had no difficulty latching on. As a matter of fact, she is now 19 months and still breastfeeding. The very same pump I received in 2008 was used when I had to pump while at work.
My journey through breastfeeding may not be similar to those that you have read in books and heard about during La Leche League meetings. As a Lactation Counselor and Birth Doula, I realized how much my breastfeeding journey has led me to what I love. I now know that I should have not felt defeated because despite birthing my son the way I did, I look at him as a healthy 4 year old boy who was breastfed. He may not have nursed from my breast, but he was breastfed. He was loved and nourished with the best food for him. For all the breastfeeding mothers out there, just be re-assured that you are supported by a group of breastfeeding warriors that are here to carry the weight of desperation with you and help you overcome it all.
Gaetane Joseph is an active mother of 2 who keeps herself busy with activities with her family. Her passion for breastfeeding and birthing lead her to become a Lactation Counselor and Birth Doula. Her journey through motherhood has led to her blog at http://www.seedsofmommysoul.com.
When I had my son, I breastfed him for a whole year. I preferred breast feeding over formula because it was more natural and that’s what breast milk was made for in the first place. Some benefits of breastfeeding were it was natural and good for the baby’s immune system since as it contained anti-bodies to help prevent sickness and infections. When I breastfed I also felt more close with my son cause I saw it as a form of bonding in addition to play time, cuddling, bath time and so on. Also it’s a relief for most moms when they breastfed their babies since their breast would be engorged with milk and it was uncomfortable.
I come from a family who support breastfeeding and breastfed their children as well. My friends did not say much, they were only surprised at the changes they saw. When I found out I was pregnant I already knew I would have him naturally and breast feed him as well. My primary care doctor, my nurse midwife and nutritionist all encouraged me to breast feed. They all talked about the benefits the baby would get from getting breastfed and how it also helps with quick development of brain cells. My health care providers’ advice and opinions just clarified everything I read about and knew about breast feeding. They also talked about the idea of sagging breasts and some women not liking it because the suction hurt and made them sore; that didn’t bother me one bit after all what a push up bras for (lol). And as for soreness, I figured the baby wouldn’t be a baby forever.
I purchased a breast pump when I started working and pumped every morning and when I came home so when I’m not home, Jason would still have breast milk and wouldn’t have to use formula. I wasn’t a huge fan of formula since I read it could give babies stomach aches and didn’t seem to have most of the benefits breast milk had. I believe women should be encouraged to breast feed their babies, it’s a beautiful experience and the point of lactating is so your baby can have it and stay healthy. It may be hard for some women but I think once they start their breast would be engorged enough with milk to make things easier. The bond you feel with your baby when breast feeding is also incredible so I definitely support breast feeding.
This week is National Breastfeeding Awareness Week and we know that most new mothers will try to breastfeed their babies. This month is a time for everyone to help highlight some of the lesser known facts of breastfeeding. While there are some challenges, the benefits are too great to overlook!
As a young mom, I chose to only breastfeed my baby. The beginning was a little challenging but by the second week or so, it began to feel like a natural part of my life. I knew there were some wonderful benefits to breastfeeding my baby and knew that this would be the first of many amazing decisions I would make as a new mom. One thing I can recommend to new moms is to look for a lactation consultant to help you with your breastfeeding issues or concerns. Not all hospital personnel and/or nurses are trained to help with breastfeeding so don’t feel overwhelmed if you don’t find the right support right away.
For those who are thinking about breastfeeding but aren’t quite sure, check out some of the information provided by the Brigham and Women’s Guide for New Parents:
Breast milk contains all the nutrients needed for your baby’s growth and development and is perfectly matched to meet his or her needs. There are many breastfeeding benefits for your baby. Extensive research has demonstrated that breast milk provides optimal health benefits to both the newborn and the mother.
Breastfed babies may also have less risk for developing:
Some breastfeeding benefits for mother include:
faster postpartum recovery;
reduces risk of breast, uterine, and ovarian cancer;
quicker weight loss after birth.
Please click on this link to get more information on breastfeeding!
To help more pregnant women and new moms get information about caring for their health and giving their babies the best possible start in life, the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB) launched text4baby, the first free health text messaging service in the U.S.Text4baby supports moms by providing accurate, text-length health information and resources in a format that is personal and timely, using a channel she knows and uses.
Registration is easy and can be done online here or from your cell phone. Use your cell phone to text the word BABY (or BEBE for Spanish) to the number 511411. You’ll be asked to enter your baby’s due date or your baby’s birthday and your zip code. Once registered, you will start receiving free messages with tips for your pregnancy or caring for your baby.
If you want to stop receiving messages from text4baby, text STOP to 511411. To start receiving the messages again, you will have to enroll again by sending BABY to 511411 (BEBE to 511411 for Spanish messages).