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Breastfeeding Tips for Dad

Breast Feeding Tips for Dad
One of the best book titles I’ve seen in recent years was “Why do men have nipples?”  Brilliant hook for customers browsing a book section, and an entertaining book.
While the question captured in the title of that book requires some deep scientific and anotomical analysis, for recent mothers the answer to the nipple question is pretty clear.  Nipples equal breast milk.
So, you’re probably wondering by now, where does a site like FunctionalFather.com get off writing an article advising fathers on breastfeeding?
Well, believe it or not, I believe fathers have as much a role as mothers in the breast feeding intiative for a newborn.  Let me take that back, maybe not just as much, and I wouldn’t recommend repeating that to a new mother who probably hates your guts right now.  Let’s just say, Dads should care about making their wives breast feeding experience as productive, painless, and rewarding as possible.
With that said, here is some advice for fathers who want to make sure Moms can breast feed without resenting you:
Tip #1 – Be as helpful as possible without providing advice
There is no way in hell you, as a guy, will ever know what it’s like to breast feed a newborn child.  If you think you do, get off the site because you’re an ass or just a wack.
So, without sounding like a marriage counselor here, be supportive of Mom if she’s having trouble with getting the baby to latch-on, or if she’s having anxiety about that baby feeding enough, or anything that might be troubling her.
Don’t ever tell her she’s doing something wrong.
Be extremely constructive with your comments and recommendations.  Start a lot of sentences like “Hmmm, maybe you’d do even better if..” or “Ok, why don’t we try something like…”
Don’t say, “That won’t work” or “Let’s just use formula!”  If breast feeding is the agenda, encourage it and try to be helpful.
Tip #2 – If it’s not working, hire a Lactation Consultant
I know, sounds like a strange job, or something made up by a guy who wants to feel breasts, but hosptials always have lactation consutlants on call in the maternity ward and there are number of lactation nurses that twilight as home consultants.
Depending on where you live these consultants can cost up to $100/visit but will work with Mom to optimize the feedings and try different positions for the baby, provide tips, additional equipment, etc.  If direct breast feeding is not working they can also advise on how to pump most effectively.  I highly recommend this for any familiy trying breast feeding for the first time.
Tip #3 – Convince your wife to pump in addition to the direct feedings
Many women will want to exclusively breast feed without doing any pumping.  This means that she’s on the hook for every feeding, and you have no part in the feeding process.  Many pro-breastfeeding groups will push this instead of pumping or supplmeneting with formula, however, I encourage all fathers to be a part of the feeding process.
Breast feeding can form a very strong mother-child bond, one that can be extremely heart warming, but frustrating later on, if the child identifies more with the mother than the father.  Dads should have the opportunity to partake in that bonding experience as well – get your wife to pump and you feed.
Plus, Moms could use the break, especially after labor and especially after the first few weeks when the baby is feeding every 2-3 hours.  While it may sound crazy, if your wife sleeps more, you will be better off.  Trust me.
Tip #4 – Freeze the extra breast milk
Obviously, this only applies if the Mom is pumping.  There are plastic freezer bags designed for storing breast milk.  If your wife is producing enough for feeding the baby and has extra, save it these bags for use later on.  Some women produce enough to have months of extra breast milk (yes, months), which means that the baby can be consuming this “liquid gold” long after Mom decides she’s had enough with breast feeding or pumping.
Plus you’ll have additional breast milk for mixing, as some babies can’t make the transition over to straight formula or milk cold turkey.
Make sure you mark the bags in the freezer so you know which bags to use first when defrosting, as breast milk doesn’t stay good forever.
Tip #5 – Don’t be an Ass
This tip could be applied in a number of settings, but realize that during the breast feeding period, Mom will be limited in the types of food and drinks she can consume.  She can’t really tie one on because then it will pass over in the breast milk, so perhaps the first few months are not the best time to drink in front of your wife.
For your own sanity, keep an eye on what your wife is eating to see if there is any correlation with crankiness in the child.  Cranky baby usually equals cranky parents, so for your own sake, have your wife steer clear of orange juice, leafy greens, garlic, etc.
That’s about it – 5 breast feeding tips for guys.  Probably goes without saying that you should never try to breast feed the baby yourself.

One of the best book titles I’ve seen in recent years was “Why do men have nipples?”  Brilliant hook for customers browsing a book section, and an entertaining book.

While the question captured in the title of that book requires some deep scientific and anatomical analysis, for recent mothers the answer to the nipple question is pretty clear.  Nipples equal breast milk.

So, you’re probably wondering by now, where does a site like FunctionalFather.com get off writing an article advising fathers on breastfeeding?

Well, believe it or not, I believe fathers have as much a role as mothers in the breastfeeding initiative for a newborn.  Let me take that back, maybe not just as much, and I wouldn’t recommend repeating that to a new mother who probably hates your guts right now.  Let’s just say, Dads should care about making their wives breastfeeding experience as productive, painless, and rewarding as possible.

With that said, here is some advice for fathers who want to make sure Moms can breast feed without resenting you:

Tip #1 – Be as helpful as possible without providing advice

There is no way in hell you, as a guy, will ever know what it’s like to breastfeed a newborn child.  If you think you do, get off the site because you’re an ass or just a wack.

So, without sounding like a marriage counselor here, be supportive of Mom if she’s having trouble with getting the baby to latch-on, or if she’s having anxiety about that baby feeding enough, or anything that might be troubling her.

Don’t ever tell her she’s doing something wrong.

Be extremely constructive with your comments and recommendations.  Start a lot of sentences like “Hmmm, maybe you’d do even better if..” or “Ok, why don’t we try something like…”

Don’t say, “That won’t work” or “Let’s just use formula!”  If breastfeeding is the agenda, encourage it and try to be helpful.

Tip #2 – If it’s not working, hire a Lactation Consultant

I know, sounds like a strange job, or something made up by a guy who wants to feel breasts, but hospitals always have lactation consultants on call in the maternity ward and there are number of lactation nurses that twilight as home consultants.

Depending on where you live these consultants can cost up to $100/visit but will work with Mom to optimize the feedings and try different positions for the baby, provide tips, additional equipment, etc.  If direct breastfeeding is not working they can also advise on how to pump most effectively.  I highly recommend this for any family trying breast feeding for the first time.

Tip #3 – Convince your wife to pump in addition to the direct feedings

Many women will want to exclusively breastfeed without doing any pumping.  This means that she’s on the hook for every feeding, and you have no part in the feeding process.  Many pro-breastfeeding groups will push this instead of pumping or supplementing with formula, however, I encourage all fathers to be a part of the feeding process.

Breastfeeding can form a very strong mother-child bond, one that can be extremely heart warming, but frustrating later on, if the child identifies more with the mother than the father.  Dads should have the opportunity to partake in that bonding experience as well – get your wife to pump and you feed.

Plus, Moms could use the break, especially after labor and especially after the first few weeks when the baby is feeding every 2-3 hours.  While it may sound crazy, if your wife sleeps more, you will be better off.  Trust me.

Tip #4 – Freeze the extra breast milk

Obviously, this only applies if the Mom is pumping.  There are plastic freezer bags designed for storing breast milk.  If your wife is producing enough for feeding the baby and has extra, save it these bags for use later on.  Some women produce enough to have months of extra breast milk (yes, months), which means that the baby can be consuming this “liquid gold” long after Mom decides she’s had enough with breastfeeding or pumping.

Plus you’ll have additional breast milk for mixing, as some babies can’t make the transition over to straight formula or milk cold turkey.

Make sure you mark the bags in the freezer so you know which bags to use first when defrosting, as breast milk doesn’t stay good forever.

Tip #5 – Don’t be an Ass

This tip could be applied in a number of settings, but realize that during the breastfeeding period, Mom will be limited in the types of food and drinks she can consume.  She can’t really tie one on because then it will pass over in the breast milk, so perhaps the first few months are not the best time to drink in front of your wife.

For your own sanity, keep an eye on what your wife is eating to see if there is any correlation with crankiness in the child.  Cranky baby usually equals cranky parents, so for your own sake, have your wife steer clear of orange juice, leafy greens, garlic, etc.

That’s about it – 5 breastfeeding tips for guys.  Probably goes without saying that you should never try to breastfeed the baby yourself.

2 Responses to “Breastfeeding Tips for Dad”

  1. Just a tip on #4… Freezing is awesome and helps A TON. Some things to look out for, though is that a woman’s body and the baby are very in tune and if things are going on with the baby, the Mom’s body will produce more of certain things or less depending on how the baby is doing…so it’s not always good to get too far removed from the pump date when you use it.

    Another thing that we ran into is food sensitivities. Our little guy has a sensitivity to dairy. He breaks out with eczema if my wife has anything with dairy or if he has anything himself (he’s on solids and breastmilk now) The milk pumped from before we discovered the dairy problem obviously had to be discared.

    Not everybody will run into this, but since we did, I just thought I’d throw that out there.

  2. Jason says:

    Advice needed!!! My 40 year old wife is still breastfeeding our 18 month old son. I’m sure that’s normal but her mood swings during the beginning of her PMS cycle are the worst they have ever been. I’m not perfect by any means but just wondering if the combination between her age, breastfeeding and her PMS is causing most of the problems. Is there anything she can take or that she should be doing to better things in her own body? Is this Worth consulting her doctor or is this typical marriage stuff?

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