Having a new baby in the home is often as overwhelming and puzzling for dad as it is for a mum. Especially with a first child, everything is happening in real time for the first time, which can be both exhilarating and exhausting.
No matter how much friendly advice, pregnancy planning or breastfeeding “survival guides” a man reads in advance, the dynamic between mum and baby seems almost magical and impenetrable. No matter how hard he tries, a dad often is left wondering how he can help, what he can say and how exactly he can be useful.
Attempts to speak the language this new little creature has brought into his life can often create huge insecurity – and many questions.
A father’s questions range from the practical to the complex. Men, who are incredibly skilled in their profession or trained experts in complex tasks, often find themselves scratching their heads to determine the right response to the simplest of situations. The most straightforward tasks seem to have been mysteriously transformed into complex algorithms.
He has many questions and does not know where to start. So, here are some of the things a dad often wants to ask.
What Is My Partner Worried About?
Breastfeeding mums are on a journey of discovery. They have to learn how to trust their bodies and feel confident in their ability to feed the baby. This process takes time! Breastfeeding mums worry a lot about producing enough milk and how to deal with their feelings of insecurity and inadequacy. They are trying to get enough rest while caring for the baby, and perhaps most of all, trying to prioritize and juggle all the competing tasks – baby, house, husband, work and not to mention themselves.
Any practical things that a father can do to reduce the pressure are appreciated. Dishes, cleaning, laundry, errands and shopping are the obvious things he can do, but also being creative and spontaneous helps.
He can try rubbing his partner’s shoulders or bringing her a drink or some food while she is breastfeeding, carrying the baby or bathing, cuddling or changing nappies. In addition, thinking about the small things and anticipating his partner’s needs is also important.
Help by charging her devices, bringing her a special treat, praising her on Facebook, or bringing her a small gift or bunch of flowers. The best advice however, is to do whatever it takes to anticipate stressful or time consuming situations and be proactive.
The ultimate gift a father can give is his time. If mum can have an hour on a Saturday and Sunday to just relax, sleep in a bit or go to the shops alone, her worries will start to dissolve and she will regain her self.
Where Can a Breastfeeding Mum Go For Help?
Being a breastfeeding mum is not always easy, especially during the early days of the child’s life. Her partner should always watch for signs of depression or sadness, and encourage her to get help if needed.
Fortunately, there is a wide variety of breastfeeding support in Australia, as well as online networking groups for mums. Breastfeeding challenges can create a lot of stress but lactation consultants are a great source of support and reassurance.
What are Some of the Myths About Breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding mums often tend to have many insecurities related to breastfeeding. They might not be sure if they are doing a good enough job, or think that they should know everything and they didn’t ask all the right questions. A lot of her questions are often based on good intentioned advice, rumors or false information, so a dad can read up on common misconceptions about breastfeeding and be able to talk it through with his wife or partner to help reassure her about the facts.
Part of being well informed means knowing all of the breastfeeding myths (and realities) – no matter how ridiculous or crazy they might seem. There is a lot of inaccurate information out there about breastfeeding – and the more a dad knows, the more he can do to be a proactive partner.
Why is Breastfeeding So Important?
One of the questions that many dads have is why breastfeeding matters so much. Mum may have done a lot of research and be totally committed for one year or more. But from a man’s perspective the many benefits to baby, mum and dad might not be completely clear. So here’s how to look at it.
Breastfeeding is Good for Babies
Breastfeeding guards against infection and reinforces the immune system.
Breastmilk has the perfect combination of fats, vitamins, and carbohydrates, and contains antibodies, digestive enzymes, and hormones.
Breastmilk is a nutritional powerhouse. It is nature’s “perfect food” for babies, with a perfectly balanced blend of micronutrients.
Human milk is valuable from a nutritional, immunological, developmental and cognitive perspective.
Breastmilk may help to make your child smarter. According to research cited in this article, breastfeeding may improve a child’s neural development by 10%.
Breastfeeding is Good for Mums Too!
Breastfeeding is not only good for babies’ health – it is good for the health of their mums. Women who breastfeed reduce their risk of several serious health problems, including cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and diabetes.
These health benefits for mothers mainly come from hormonal changes while producing milk.
Breastfeeding is claimed to provide ongoing support to a woman’s health. Research indicates the longer a woman breastfeeds, the stronger the protection against serious diseases in later life.
Breastfeeding is Good for Dads
If the breastfeeding experience is shared, it can help create a closer relationship between partners, as well as creating stronger bonding with the baby.
Supporting a mum during the breastfeeding process helps dad to feel like a part of the experience, and can make him feel productive and helpful.
With breastfeeding, there is less stress all around – everyone in a new family will function as a unit, making for a more peaceful and stress free home.
Are you a breastfeeding mum? If so, please share your experiences or join the discussion at the Medela Australia Facebook page!