As promised for National Breast feeding week, here at UK Birth Centres Ltd we are continuing with the topic of how Dads are so important to the success of breast feeding.
A new dad might think that his role in breast feeding is a minor one, not so! Studies show that the attitude of the baby’s father is the most important factor in whether or not a mother begins and continues to breastfeed. Indeed the study entitled Controlled Trial of the Father’s Role in Breastfeeding Promotion (A. Piscane, G.Continisio et al. 2005) concluded that teaching fathers how to prevent and to manage the most common lactation difficulties is associated with higher rates of full breastfeeding at 6 months.
Breastfeeding can be a rocky road for some, especially first time Mums, and Dads it is your support that is often one of the greatest reasons Mums continue with breastfeeding. You may not be able to breastfeed, but your help is a much needed pillar of strength, so here are a few ways for you Dads to get prepared ahead of time.
In the article “Successful Breast feeding“ we have already introduced you to the idea of a “baby moon” as we described the time a new Mother spends skin-to-skin with the baby, helping get breast feeding off to a great start! Whilst the Mum is doing this, then the Dad helps out big time with cooking, housework and nappy changing.
Babies need lots of physical contact, and when not breastfeeding, a father’s loving arms are a wonderful place for his baby to be.
“Fathers need to spend time with their babies in order to get to know them better and get ‘tuned in’ to their needs. Watch for cues that baby is ready for some fathering interaction. A hungry baby won’t be at all interested in playing. But once baby has nursed his fill, dad can take over…” (WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING, p. 193)
Especially in the first few weeks, when lack of sleep and hormonal changes can sometimes make new mothers waver in their determination to breastfeed, a father who suggests, “let’s try that one more time,” or who reminds his partner that, “they say babies space out their feedings after the three week growth spurt,” can be invaluable.
The Dad needs to learn to be a referee between your breastfeeding partner and friends and relatives who push for supplementing or offering the baby a bottle. They are likely to be well meaning, but may not understand that until breastfeeding is established it is important for mum and baby to set her supply and ensure baby is getting the nutrients, nurturing and nourishment only feeding at the breast can provide.
So Dads you are key when it comes to breast feeding success!