Hey Dads and Partners! If your wife just delivered a baby or is expecting, please read on carefully because this is really for you! Consider it your Father’s day present from the Lactation Consultant, (who will it hear in detail when your wife feels like you aren’t part of this process.) Trust me, I’m saving you here so please don’t skip reading this, sigh or think this is just more breastfeeding mumbo jumbo. It’s not! Read on …You have a role in all of this and it’s so much more important than you might think.

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If your wife is like most women, pregnancy and breastfeeding have made her breasts bigger and fuller. But if you’re like most partners, you’re probably not really getting near them lately because someone—your baby!—has commandeered them. Rightfully so, of course. And as happy as you are, and as much as you love both your baby and your wife, naturally you’re feeling a bit like the third wheel, right? Toss those crazy thoughts aside because I will let you in on a little secret: You’re an essential part of this picture!

No joke. As helpless as you may feel, it’s absolutely true. You may not be able to breastfeed, but did you know that women will most likely breastfeed for longer time frames (one year plus) when their spouse is supportive. What does “supportive” mean exactly? Here’s a break down of the role you can play (and win!) at.

Be Her Biggest Supporter and Fan

She may be challenged. Breastfeeding—albeit natural—is something both mom and baby must learn. Remind her to take it feed by feed, and be the reasonable supportive voice. Encourage her as much as you can and be there to share the experience with her. Sample phrases include:

  • “I know it’s challenging but you are amazing and are doing so well.”
  • “ I am so proud of you. Thank you for doing this for our baby.”
  • “Wow! Did you just pump all that? That’s incredible honey.”

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Get Educated

Get a book, read the mom blogs, doctor blogs or any other information you can on breastfeeding. Go to the classes and even talk to a Lactation Consultant (who me? Kidding! Talk to anyone!). Get your facts straight and your head on, because you will be challenged too, and let’s face it, knowledge is power! Some good books include Breastfeeding with Confidence, A Practical Guide, Breastfeeding Made Simple. Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers, and The Baby Nurse Bible.

Get up with Her

Trust me, this one will go far. Many partners sleep through night feedings because they feel there’s nothing they can do, and “can’t function at work with no sleep!” Sorry, but in this early stage, both of you are working—and she’s recovering. So when she’s feeling overwhelmed and a bit out of sorts in the dark hours of a 2am feeding, she really needs you! Get up, help her get set up for feeding with pillows and bring her the baby. Then get her a glass of water and change baby afterward if needed. She will appreciate it more than you know!

Be The Task Master…Baby or Household

Get your swaddle on, offer to change any diaper that needs changing, dress the baby, snuggle and cuddle the baby in between feeds…are you getting my drift here? Step in and do all the other things outside of the feeding. If you become a team and work in tandem this will be a wonderful experience for all of you. Don’t sulk and feel left out, but instead move forward and be a star player. Strap on the Boba, Bjorn, or whatever you have and take baby for a walk so mom can take a nap (or a shower!) When it comes to the household, make meals, unload the dishwasher, grocery shop or do laundry. You got this!

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D E F E N S E…Block and Tackle

Well, forget tackle, but you get the analogy. Mom and baby are going to be in the spotlight for a bit and some of the attention and comments they receive may not be welcomed. Again, breastfeeding is a learned process between mom and baby, with that said, others may share their opinions and beliefs about your feeding choices—well intentioned or not! Your job is to thwart off any unwelcome attention or commentary that may derail or undermine your partner’s efforts. This is a big task! You might find her sobbing, phone surfing, or angry after reading a breastfeeding blog. It may happen after a phone call or a visit with someone special. Be vigilant and keep your eyes and ears open because it will most likely come from what seems like the least likely source!

As a mom who breastfed two children, I can tell you sincerely that these tips will make a difference. Enjoy this special time with your new family, jump in with both feet, leaving your third wheel feelings aside. Find the special moments every day! Sure, you all will be sleep deprived, but please delight in the miracle of the journey you are about to share with the loves of your life.

Happy Father’s Day to all the great dads out there, and to the special men in my own life, a personal thank you my Honey and my Dad who both define the meaning of “Super “ in my book and always will. XOXO.

katiez-Katie Zereski, CLC

Contact Boston Baby Nurse today to schedule a lactation consult.