Updated: Apr 26
Breastfeeding is an important part of parenting that requires the support and involvement of both mothers and fathers. Of course, not all mothers may want to or be able to breastfeed and this is entirely their choice and decision.
However, there are many positive benefits of breastfeeding for the mother's and babies' health. If your partner chooses to breastfeed, there are a number of things that dads can do to support your partner.
Research has shown that babies whose fathers are involved in breastfeeding are more likely to breastfeed for longer periods of time. Breastfeeding can be quite challenging, and mothers may feel overwhelmed and may feel physical discomfort.
Here are some ways that dads can support women who are breastfeeding:
Practical Tips to support your partner:
Help with the jobs around the home
A clean, safe, and quiet environment will make breastfeeding a much more enjoyable experience for both mother and baby.
If you have more than one child, keep them occupied while mum is breastfeeding.
Ask how your partner is feeling and see what they need. You can offer snacks and massages but there may be something else that would be equally helpful for them.
If your partner expresses her milk, take the chance to bottle-feed the baby yourself.
Listen to how your partner feels about breastfeeding.
When stepping out of the house with mum and baby, find places, such as cafes and restaurants, that are breastfeeding-friendly. You may want to ask around to check if it's breastfeeding-friendly or somewhere your partner feels comfy, to avoid last-minute stress.
Support a routine.
A routine can help reduce the chaos that is parenting, both for you and mum.
Encourage taking necessary supplements and maintaining a healthy diet.
During breastfeeding, all of the nutrients the baby is getting come from mum. So, a healthy balanced diet will support the growth of the baby and the mother's health.
Explore technology that may support breastfeeding.
Understand that your partner's sex drive will be different during this period due to changes in hormones. Be patient with your partner; it may be a while until sex drive returns to pre-birth levels. Of course, this varies individually.
Overall, the involvement of fathers in breastfeeding is crucial for the health and well-being of both the mother and the baby. By providing emotional support, helping with household chores, and educating others about breastfeeding, fathers can play an important role in ensuring that the mother and baby have a successful breastfeeding journey.
Breastfeeding is important for the health and well-being of both the mother and the baby. Some mums find it quite difficult. As a dad, you can support your partner whilst they are adjusting to feeding the baby, as well as
Academic research on breastfeeding:
Vandyousefi, S, Goran, MI, Gunderson, EP, et al. Association of breastfeeding and gestational diabetes mellitus with the prevalence of prediabetes and the metabolic syndrome in offspring of Hispanic mothers. Pediatric Obesity. 2019; 14:e12515. https://doi.org/10.1111/ijpo.12515
Mary Frances Picciano, Pregnancy and Lactation: Physiological Adjustments, Nutritional Requirements and the Role of Dietary Supplements, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 133, Issue 6, June 2003, Pages 1997S–2002S, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/133.6.1997S.
McAndrew F, Thompson J, Fellows L et al Infant Feeding Survey 2010. NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre. Copyright © 2012, Health and Social Care Information Centre