Breastfeeding is an incredible bond shared by mother and baby. During this experience, Dad might feel a little left out or wonder if there is anyway he could be more involved. Here are a few ideas to help!
While breastfeeding, Mom can rest in front of Dad (lay your back to his chest) so Dad is hugging Mom from behind. This way, baby will see both Mom and Dad while he is feeding and possibly grow a stronger attachment to both parents.
Another idea is to have baby nap on Dad’s chest (skin-to-skin helps strengthen bond) after feedings. Dad’s flatter chest is a great and comfortable resting place. Not only does this help increase Dad’s involvement with breastfeeding, but it allows mom to get cleaned up and rest post-feedings as well!
Barbara Higham of La Leche League International explained how certain masculine traits are particularly comforting for babies. She mentioned how the deeper voice of a man is soothing to babies when talking or singing. Also, larger hands and arms are beneficial in certain holding positions and increase comfort and confidence of the infant.
Another thing fathers should understand is that breastfeeding is not the only time for bonding! Having a regular routine and specific Dad-and-baby activities may help. Like bath time. This is a great one-on-one time that Dad can spend with baby/child and make just for them. You can play games and have fun while building memories together.
Overall encouragement and confidence between Mom and Dad is key. According to the March of Dimes, studies show that the father’s attitude is the most influential factor in whether Mom begins and continues to breastfeed! Dad's encouragement may be just what Mom needs in order to push through any tough times (especially in the early weeks!)
For more information and stories about fathers' help with breastfeeding check out: http://www.breastfeeding.com/reading_room/dad_help.html or http://www.badassdad.com/2008/01/breastfeeding-father.html
Claire is a twenty-three year old nursing student at Arizona State University. She currently lives in Tempe, AZ with her dog Bella.