Breastfeeding – A Dads Guide

Breastfeeding Choices

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Breastfeeding can be a daunting subject for dads with many not knowing where to start in supporting their partners!

Breastfeeding has numerous benefits for both mothers and babies, with the term ‘breast is best’ coined by people who certainly know what they were talking about! There are certain nutrients that help the immune system, which triggers hormonal shifts in mum that help the uterus to recover, fight postpartum depression, and decrease bleeding. It is often recommended that mothers breastfeed for at least the first six months, with the global average being three years!

I’m a bloke! I can’t breastfeed! What can I do?

Don’t worry, there is so much you can do to support your partner while they are breastfeeding! While your partner might have spent time researching breastfeeding aids like pumps or nipple shields, a good way for you to help her can be through researching breastfeeding tips. This can be breastmilk storage, labeling and organizing milk to looking into and finding out about illnesses and

Breastfeeding can sometimes be a struggle for new mums, so it’s important that you are there for emotional support. Particularly for the first few weeks. Mothers have endured so much pain, and they are needed to be in some more while the baby learns to latch and milk flows through ducts that it has never done so before. You might be needed to keep the nursing area well stocked with burp cloths, nipple cream, pumps and bottles. You could also learn some breastfeeding-friendly foods to help support your partner.

Sometimes breastfeeding can be a struggle, so its important for you to be calm and understanding. Its a very personal act, and its important that you communicate and understand any struggles she goes through. While you cannot understand everything, you can be there to listen while she complains that the baby is still struggling to latch!

Does breastfeeding hurt?

Breastfeeding can hurt, and the nipple is one of the most sensitive parts of the body, so it’s possible that it will cause your partner pain in the beginning while it is being established. There are many conditions, such as clogged ducts, mastitis and chafed skin that makes it even more painful. These should clear up, and painful breastfeeding isn’t normal and should be brought to the attention of your GP and a lactation consultant. Postpartum doulas might also be beneficial during this time.

What changes will happen to my partners breasts?

Breasts change during breastfeeding, as they become engorged with nutrient-rich milk. Certainly, breasts do look different after children, with nipples growing more sensitive, and the areola changing colour. Changes are normal, and completely superficial, which isn’t a medical concern. It’s not unusual for breasts to be larger while a new mum is breastfeeding, and complimenting your partner on them is something I am sure she would like!

When should she start breastfeeding?

If your partner is able to, she should attempt to breastfeed within a couple of hours of the baby’s life. The first milk that a mother produces is called colostrum, which contains vital probiotics that help your newborn’s digestive system that helps them to fight germs, digest food, and gets rid of the sticky meconium. This colostrum is what the baby nurses on for the first few days before the milk fully comes through.

When should breastfeeding end?  

Breastfeeding should end when your partner is happy to do so, with the global average being three years. There are plenty of benefits that your baby’s immune system will receive from breastfeeding, and these continue till you finish breastfeeding, with there being no such thing as ‘late’ breastfeeding. I am sure that most people here will have seen David Walliams’ ‘Bitty’ sketch and I am certainly not saying breastfeed till your child is 35! It is entirely up to you to decide, based on practicality and comfort for the nursing partner.

Is breastfeeding in public legal?

Breastfeeding in public is COMPLETELY legal and protected by law. Businesses such as cafes, restaurants, shops, and museums cannot ask a mother to cover herself or leave because she is breastfeeding. This comes under the Equality act of 2010 which classes this as sex-based discrimination. While outside and outdoors, it is still legal, however, mothers may come under fire from the public. In Wales and England, there is no legal action that you can take against this harassment, whilst in Scotland, it comes with a £2500 fine, and the police will come and interrogate the assailant who asked the mother to stop breastfeeding.

Is it normal for me as a non breastfeeding partner to feel left out?

It is completely normal and quite common for you to feel left out while your partner is breastfeeding. You have gone from a relationship of two; to feeling like a third wheel with all of the constant feedings. There is also a lot of bonding that takes place while nursing.

A way to get around this is by offering to take over some feeds if your partner expresses some milk, which you could then bottle feed your baby. Just things like taking on nappy changes, or burping the baby not only support your partner but allows for extra bonding time that you may feel like you are missing out on.

What are the tips you learned when your partner was breastfeeding? Leave your best advice down below!

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