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!