When a new baby arrives, a couple becomes a family, and the roles of the partner change. The partner’s role is very important in the breastfeeding process, and he (or she) must be informed and support the mother’s decisions. We would like to highlight that although in the title of this article, we refer to the ‘father,’ we will be referring to the non-pregnant partner, regardless of their gender. In fact, this information is also useful for all other people who are close to a mother, as their support and reassurance will also be valuable.
Sometimes, partners don’t know what to do, what to say, or how they can help. This article is for all partners of new mothers who are new to the world of breastfeeding:
She wants to breastfeed, but I am not sure
It’s understandable that you have a lot of questions about breastfeeding. But with a little information, you will surely understand the importance of breastfeeding for your woman and your baby.
Breastfeeding is practically like a continuation of pregnancy. The baby still needs the same care as when he or she was in the womb: warmth, love, interaction, and nourishment. And this is the definition of breastfeeding. The mother’s body is the only space your baby knows and recognizes. That’s why babies calm down when they are in their mother’s arms and at her breast.
In addition, breastfeeding provides important health benefits for both, which is one of the greatest gifts that breastfeeding provides.
On the other hand, breastfeeding is a complex adventure, and your partner now requires your full support. Imagine her telling you that she wants to run a marathon or climb a mountain. Imagine that she is taking on a big challenge that is equally exciting and scary at the same time. Surely, you would be by her side, support her dream, and acknowledge her bravery. Well, it’s the same with breastfeeding. Your support is key to setting up both your baby and your partner for a successful breastfeeding journey.
I was bottle-fed, and I’m doing just fine
Of course. It’s great that you are healthy and strong, but to answer this question, and so you see the importance of breastfeeding, we would like to cite Carlos Gonzalez, a bestselling author, and pediatrician: “If there was a vaccine with the benefits of breastfeeding, all parents would pay anything to buy it,” from the book ‘Breastfeeding Made Easy: A Gift for Life for You and Your Baby’.
In any case, beyond the benefits, whether or not to choose breastfeeding is a decision that should be freely made by the mother of the baby, and her surroundings should support this.
What can I do to help her?
That’s a very good question! But only she has the answer. Don’t be afraid and ask her: what can I do to help you?
There could be many answers:
- I need water
- I’m hungry
- Could you hand me the TV remote?
- Could you tell those friends not to come over?
- Can you take us to the pediatrician or doctor’s appointment?
- Could you go to buy that breast pump?
- Could you tell your mother to bring us some pasta?
- Could you come with me to the breastfeeding support group or lactation consultant?
I’m a little embarrassed to go with her to a breastfeeding support group
Well, mothers also feel a little embarrassed when they go to a breastfeeding support group for the first time. It’s normal that we feel like that when we go to a new place with new people. And even more so when they are talking about such intimate topics as breastfeeding.
Taking her to those groups is great, and going there together with her is even more effective. In the postpartum period, all women feel a little lost, and their brains are so focused on taking care of the baby that it is hard for them to retain all the information given in those groups or when seeing a lactation consultant. If you are both going together, you can learn the key concepts as well and help to remember them at home.
Overcome your fear and stay with her in the group or during the appointment. Your support is essential.
I see that she is suffering a lot; wouldn’t it be better to stop breastfeeding?
Seeing someone you love suffer is not easy, and seeing your partner suffering is very upsetting. Of course, you may want to offer a quick and easy solution, but telling her to stop breastfeeding is never the solution. And just the fact of proposing it can cause your partner a lot of pain.
If you want to help, it is best to ask her: What do you want to do?
She will tell you what she needs and what she wants to do.
And if she does it all, how can I bond with the baby?
She does a lot, and breastfeeding is a lot of work. But there are a lot of other things you can do to bond with your baby. It’s great that you care and that you want to bond with your baby from the start. But we can assure you that there are so many other things you can do: carry your baby (babywearing), put your baby to sleep in your arms, change diapers, bathe, cuddle, or rock your baby, and so much more.
Where can I find more information and get answers to my questions?
Our app, LactApp, is free to download for Android and iPhone, and there you can find a lot of information about breastfeeding and about the baby, as well as a consultation chat channel where our team of experts answers all your questions.
I have downloaded LactApp, but I cannot register as ‘father’
Currently, the content of LactApp is written addressing mothers, but all the information is valid and relevant for partners as well.
Finally, the postpartum period is an opportunity for you and your partner to be closer than ever. This is a magical time of change, and if you are united and support each other, it can become such an important stage of life that you will always remember, even though right now it does not seem like it.