From trivial little things that I could probably do on my own if I wasn’t lazy, to the big stuff that keeps me going even though breastfeeding is hard, I’m one lucky lady to have such a supportive man. Many dads look at breastfeeding and worry they will have no place in that aspect of their baby’s life. If your man is feeling worried he won’t be able to contribute, explain these 10 ways he can get involved and support you through your breastfeeding journey:
He can get things for you: While breastfeeding, you’re pretty much stuck in one spot for who knows how long. There will be times when you settle in to nurse, only to have forgotten your phone across the room or realize you’re dying for some water. If he’s around and not busy, ask your man to get you those things so you don’t have to re-latch the baby.
He can calm you when you get overwhelmed: Breastfeeding is difficult because your baby needs you every few hours to eat, latching feels sore for a while, and you’re constantly analyzing if the baby is eating enough. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, especially when you’re sleep deprived from the night feedings. Communicate your anxiety triggers to your husband so when you start to get overwhelmed, he can ease the tension by making a silly joke, holding you in a tight hug, handing you chocolate, or whatever works to calm you down.
He can encourage you when things get tough: He can reassure you that your efforts aren’t being wasted, or support your decision to switch to formula if that’s what you need. He can go out and buy the hydrogel pads your sore nipples need, or make the call to the lactation consultant to set an appointment for you to get help. He can join you at the free breastfeeding support group meetings with La Leche. He can validate your rants about the rude lady who shamed you for publicly breastfeeding, and inspire you to try again the next day. Having that kind of constant support might make the difference between giving up and sticking to your plan to breastfeed.
He can laugh and rejoice the cute moments with you: Even if you feel like he might not care, keep telling him the cute little things your baby is doing while she eats. He might have to keep pausing his video game to listen and look, but I bet that’s way more important to him than the alien he’s slaying on the TV. Is baby playing with your hair? Show dad. Did she unlatch, stare at you lovingly, and then let out a huge fart? Tell dad. Let him laugh with you, let him take pictures, let him get involved.
He can pick up the slack in other areas: He may not be able to feed the baby himself since he lacks those important, milk-producing glands, but he can help in other ways. You don’t need to do everything by yourself and chances are, he’d be happy to take on the other responsibilities like diaper changes or laundry folding. Find a balance of what works for you two and appreciate each other.
He can do any bottle feedings: If you end up needing (or wanting) to pump your breast milk and bottle feed, give dad the chance to warm the milk and feed it to the baby. This is particularly helpful and appreciated for those night feedings and he will love the bonding time.
He can massage your hurting muscles: No matter how comfy you try to position yourself and sit up straight, your shoulders and/or back can easily start aching as you breastfeed. Supportive husbands will massage these sore areas if you just ask! My husband is all too eager to offer “boob rubs,” as he calls them, when I complain about my sore breasts. Though I don’t usually take him up on those.
He can be your advocate: Hopefully, you won’t run in to opposition or rude people who have opinions about the way you choose to feed your child. But if it happens, dad is there to be your breastfeeding advocate. In public places, he can scout out the best spot to nurse or help you ignore anyone staring and judging. When family/friends offer unsolicited advice, he can address it himself and help you move on. When your doctor insists you start solids sooner than you’re ready or says to switch to cow’s milk when you’d like to extend breastfeed, dad can be there to back up your choices. It’s a fantastic feeling to always have someone on your side.
He can be forgiving: Try to explain to your man what your hormones naturally do (go crazy) after having a baby, and all the ways breastfeeding might become difficult. That way, he will be prepared for your random bursting into tears or your unexplainable anger with him for eating the last cookie. He can support you by understanding as best he can and forgiving those moments of obnoxious behavior.
He can be patient for, and during, sexy time: Your spouse can show support by giving you the chance to figure out new life with baby, especially the breastfeeding part, without pressuring you for sex. When it feels like you’re constantly being needing and touched, with a baby always latched to your boobs, it can be hard to get in the mood for sex. So it’s particularly encouraging when your man doesn’t get all butt-hurt about sex and let’s you figure things out first. When the time finally does come to reconnect sexually, your man can be patient and go slow, making sure to focus on your needs, since breastfeeding tends to…*ahem*…dry you up in certain places. Of course, make sure there’s a balance and still try to show your love and appreciation for him in some way so he knows his efforts are recognized.
And if all else fails, try the “Mannary gland:”
How else does dad support you during breastfeeding? Leave a comment and let’s take a moment to brag on our men!