In the absence of the ability for many of us Dad’s to be like Mr B Wijeratne, a Sri Lankan Dad who can breastfeed his children, I thought I would list a few tips on how Dad’s can support Mom’s who breastfeed. Short of doing it ourselves (and apparently with the right conditions we can), there are many other ways we can help make the process go a bit smoother. Here are 9 tips I’ve put together. Feel free to add your own as a comment.
- Reevaluate our relationship with breasts. As men, our relationship with breasts is long and complicated. We have probably gone through most of our lives viewing breasts as sexual objects, so adjusting our skewed view of breasts and their purpose is extremely important. The boobies have changed, and it may take a bit of a mind shift to get used to seeing your partner pop them out in public, for example.
- Recognize that the physical act of breastfeeding is not easy. Especially at the beginning as Mom’s try to figure out things like positioning, latching on. It seems strange. You would think that something so fundamental to our species survival should be easy. It’s not, at least at the beginning.
- Learn all you can about breastfeeding and be her second set of ears. Like all aspects of parenting, everyone has an opinion and a strategy. Help her sort and sift through the information and learn all about tender breasts, engorgement, sore nipples, nursing injuries and cluster feedings. Read The Lactivist (aside: she has a great corporate bully story to tell about her battle with the Pork Board if you appreciate those kinds of stories). There are also, as you would expect, tons of great books out there, including
- Support her if she gets discouraged. Especially in the first few weeks, when lack of sleep and hormonal changes can sometimes make new mothers waver in their determination to breastfeed. Be positive and work with her to stick with it. Acknowledge how difficult it is, but reassure her that it does get much, much easier. This is tough because no one wants to feel like they are pressuring their partner to do something they really don’t want to do. Also, as guys, I think we tend to try to find solutions for problems that affect the people we love, when really all they need is a bit of support and encouragement. I almost blew this one and suggested in week 2 that maybe we should try a bit of formula. Fortunately, my wife was committed enough to breastfeeding that she ignored my well meaning advice.
- Should someone question any of your reasons or strategies around breastfeeding, be in her corner. Be vocal in sticking up for her with friends and family. We need to step in and run interference, even if/especially if the offender is Mom. Don’t allow your partner to be the brunt of extended family’s critical words about her breastfeeding relationship.
- Bring her food and drinks while she is breastfeeding. Grab her a book, the TV remote or the telephone.
- Get her some help. Buy her a breastfeeding pillow or a nursing stool. If she is having problems, find a good lactation consultant in your area to help.
- Puck up more of the domestic duties. Especially true when the cluster feeds and growth spurts can keep Mom bust for long stretches at a time.
- Remind her that breastfeeding is one of the most important things she can do to get your baby off to a good start in life, and increase her health and well-being. According to The World Health Organization, “Breastmilk promotes sensory and cognitive development, and protects the infant against infectious and chronic diseases. Exclusive breastfeeding reduces infant mortality due to common childhood illnesses such as diarrhea or pneumonia, and helps for a quicker recovery during illness” and “Breastfeeding contributes to the health and well-being of mothers, it helps to space children, reduces the risk of ovarian cancer and breast cancer, increases family and national resources, is a secure way of feeding and is safe for the environment.”
New parents repeat after me: white noise is our friend. White noise is good. Continue reading
As the arrival of baby #2 becomes imminent, I thought I would share the following list with other Dad (or partner) to be’s.
Thanks to our doula, Heather at Birth and Beyond, for the following information.
In early labour, you can:
- Help her get ready for labour
- Encourage her; say that sheâ€™s strong and ready
- Make her tea or broth to drink
- Make her something light to eat
- Play cards or watch TV with her
- Suggest a shower
- Suggest a nap
- Remind her to relax and focus
If she is having trouble keeping focused, you can:
- Reassure and praise her
- Give her an object or picture to look at during contractions
- Remind her of the reason sheâ€™s here (baby)
- Suggest a walk or position change
- Ask extra people to leave the room
- P lace your hands on her face and breath with her
If her belly hurts, you can:
- Remind her to go to the bathroom often
- H elp her change positions
- With a light touch, massage her lower belly and thighs
- If she is having trouble relaxing you can:
- Place a hand over her hand
- Have her shake both hands in the air
- Touch her and remind her to relax
- Talk about a relaxing time
- Play music that helps her relax
- Read to her
- Rub her back
If she is too hot, you can:
- Wash her face and neck with a cool, wet cloth
- Give her ice chips
- Fan her face and body
- Open a window
If her back hurts, you can:
- H elp her change positions
- Put a warm cloth or heat pack on her back
- Put a cold cloth or ice pack on her back
- Apply counter pressure with hands or tennis ball
- Sit back to back with her so your backs can press together
- Have her lean against the hurt with her own fists
- H elp her stand and lean against the wall
- Help her get on her hands and knees and rock back and forth
If her legs and arms shake, you can:
- Hold her steady so she feel more in control
- Use a soft touch or long, firm stroking on her legs and arms
- Rub her feet and hands
- Put a warm blanket on her
If her contractions stop, you can:
- Talk about labour and encourage rest and relaxation
- Help her with nipple stimulation
- Kiss her
- Tell her how strong she is
- Make sure sheâ€™s drinking water
- Suggest a hot shower
- Help her take a walk
- Rub her back
- Take her outside
- Make her la ugh
If you come to our house, please disregard the letter to the Tooth Fairy posted on the front door.
Last night, The Girl got terrified the Tooth Fairy was going to come to our house. I’m not sure where this latest fear has come from, but she went to sleep last night saying she didn’t want to dream about the Tooth Fairy and woke up this morning almost crying, upset the Tooth Fairy was going to come.
I can’t say I blame her. The whole idea of some mythical creature sneaking into your room in the middle of the night and sticking their hands under your pillow without you waking up is a bit creepy (as I have posted about before).
So, this morning, to help alleviate a 3 year olds fear, we wrote and posted the following letter on our front door. It says:
Dear Tooth Fairy,
Please do not come to our house. There are no teeth here for you. Perhaps you could try the next house?
I’m sure the postal worker and newspaper delivery people think we are looney, but it worked and calmed The Girl down.
Further to my last post about bedtime battles, I found this good video on the Parentcentre website. It has some good ideas on how to avoid the bedtime power struggles.
Also, tonight during our routine I flipped The Girl upside down while Mom brushed her teeth. The Girl got a big kick out of upside down brushing and we had the easiest tooth brushing we’ve had in many weeks. The rest of the night wasn’t quite so smooth, but it’s a start!
Even before she could speak (thanks to sign language), we have been drilling the girl on using â€œpleaseâ€ and â€œthank youâ€ when she wants something. Many times a day for the past 2+ years we have been reminding her to use those two words, but it seemed that no matter how much reminding we did, she just wouldnâ€™t spontaneously use â€œpleaseâ€ and â€œthank youâ€ in context. As soon as we would remind her, she would say please or thank you, but never on her own.
Then out of the blue 2 weeks ago it happened. The Girl asked me for a drink of milk, and ended her sentence with a casual â€œpleaseâ€. Fantastic! Then, when she got her milk, it was a nice â€œthank youâ€. Lovely! So I made sure to give her a bit of positive feedback â€“ â€œHey, you said please and thank you and I didnâ€™t have to remind you. Nice work!â€ To which she just gave me a grin and shuffled back into her play room.
Since then, the pleases and thank youâ€™s have been flowing much easier from her. Occasionally, she still has to be reminded, but the frequency is less and less.
So for all you parents who (like me) were going batty with the endless repeating and reminders, take this post as a positive and persevere! As for me, I am making sure to enjoy it while it lasts.