Some new dads can feel a little left out when they see how much enjoyment their partner is getting from breastfeeding their new baby. They may also feel like they are not getting as much chance to bond with their new child as their partner while she breastfeeds. There is no reason for the father to feel ashamed or worried for thinking this as it is a perfectly normal way for a man to feel and think.
What can I do to help the new dad?
If your partner does not know much about breastfeeding, you should encourage them to read into the subject as a better understanding of the benefits, how you feed and why will help him to be able to support you better.
Although your partner cannot actually feed your baby, you should encourage him to be near you as you feed your baby. Your partner can help to support the baby, to support you, stroke the baby’s cheek to encourage feeding or place their comforting hand on you. Watching your baby feed and being close to both you and your baby can help the dad to bond with the baby. You can also encourage your partner to help you prepare to feed your baby such as making sure that you have a snack and drink to hand and have plenty of cushions to support you.
After a while, you may feel that you would like to express some milk into a bottle so that the dad can feed the baby (and also you can have a little time to yourself to relax or catch up on much needed sleep), this will help your partner to get a little bonding time to himself and also feel like he is giving you time. If you do decide to express milk for your baby, you should wait both you and your baby are confident with feeding as introducing a bottle can cause confusion to very young babies.
If your partner does feel left out at times, you should reassure him that there are many other ways to help your partner bond with the baby. Some of these ways include your partner:
- Winding the baby after you feed her
- Letting the baby fall asleep in his arms (or curled up on his chest) after a feed
- Soothing the baby
- Bathing the baby or bathing with the baby
- Having time to play to simple games with the baby
- Massaging the baby
If possible, you should try and find time before the baby is born to discuss your hopes for breastfeeding and also share any worries or questions that both you and your partner have. If this is not possible, you should try and be as open and honest with each other as possible.
If you have any concerns regarding breastfeeding, you should speak to your midwife or health visitor who will be able to help you get the support and advice you need. She may also put you in touch with a breast-feeding group which offers support to new dads as well as new mums.
by Jenny, mum to William and James