Dads and breastfeeding

March 17th, 2008 · No Comments

As a dad, you are very likely to want to get involved with the day to day care of your baby, but what if mum decides to breastfeed? What does it mean to you? The first few weeks with a new baby can be a roller coaster ride, and it is really helpful if mums get support from you and the family.


WHY IS BREASTFEEDING IMPORTANT?


It has many advantages when compared with formula feeding. It is healthier for your baby and is:-

  • Free
  • Convenient
  • Made especially for YOUR baby

Formula fed babies are also more likely to:-

  • Get tummy upsets and diarrhoea
  • Have problems with ear infections
  • Have problems with chest infections
  • Be at risk of getting allergies
  • Greater chances of getting eczema

All these could result in your baby spending time in hospital when they should be at home with you and mum.


CAN IT KEEP MUM HEALTHIER?


Breastfeeding can help to protect mums against certain cancers such as breast and certain cancers that affect the ovaries (the egg making sacs near the womb). Also, women that breastfeed have a greater chance of stronger bones as they get older. You don’t want them having to have a hip replacement do you? It also burns up 500 calories a day, getting rid of that baby weight! (Not that she isn’t lovely to you anyway!!)


DISADVANTAGES OF FORMULA FEEDING

  • Formula feeding involves making bottles up every time your baby is hungry, and it can be awful waiting for water to cool down whilst your baby is screaming his lungs out!
  • Formula milk is not sterile, and can introduce bugs to your baby’s system, causing him to have sickness and diarrhoea. Babies can become really poorly with this.
  • It is also really, really easy to make up the feeds wrong, even if you have read the label properly.
  • Also, with breastfeeding, you do not have to decide which kind of milk you would need, breast milk is made different at every feed, made especially for your baby, night or day! Bottle fed babies need to be given water in hot weather as formula milk does not quench their thirst, but breast milk is a food and drink rolled into one!
  • Sterilising is another problem, which method do you use? Which takes longest? Have the bottles been sterilised properly? Buying sterilising equipment just bumps up the cost of a new baby!
  • Do you know that you can spend the equivalent of one whole year making bottles and this is just the night feeds! Half asleep, staggering downstairs, boiling the kettle, contending with a crying baby, or hand the baby to mum to feed herself, nappy change (by you if you can stay awake long enough!) baby back in the cot, and get some more shut eye before it happens again?


COMMON CONCERNS FOR DADS

I will feel left out…
You may feel jealous at first because you can’t physically feed your baby, but look at all the other things you can do instead. Why not take charge of bathing, nappy changing or having that last daddy cuddle before bedtime? It is important that your baby gets used to your face, sound and smell. Although it is best to wait until 6 months, you can really get involved when your baby is ready for solid food.
(click here to see information on introducing solids)

I want to share the feeding…
If you get involved with your baby’s care, the feeding will seem less important.However, after about 6 weeks, when breastfeeding is easier for mum, she may want to express milk and then you can give the milk by cup or bottle. Giving a breastfeeding baby a bottle too early can cause problems as the baby may get confused about which way to suck (bottle fed and breast fed babies suck differently). Also, if the baby is given formula milk, this affects mum’s own milk supply and she may end up not making as much.

What about feeding in public, is it not easier to bottle feed in cafes..?

Although some dads say they are against feeding in public, what they don’t realise is that they have probably walked past someone who is feeding, and just hadn’t noticed! Breastfeeding can be done discretely, and with the right support from you and other family members, mum will grow in confidence, and the more you see your partner breastfeed, the more comfortable you will be with it.Many places now advertise that breastfeeding is welcome, and all places such as children’s centres, libraries and health centres will support breastfeeding, and some may provide a private place if mum does not feel confident to feed in public.


WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BREASTFEEDING?

  • A baby is happier if he is fed as soon as he shows signs of being hungry.
  • Babies who are breastfed usually feed more often, usually every 2-3 hours. It may seem a lot, but this is because the milk is right for his tummy and is easily digested. Just think about how often you eat and drink during the day? Most people do not go 3 hours without at least a brew!
  • The more a baby feeds the more milk mum makes. This is known as supply and demand!
  • Mum and baby will enjoy feeding more if they are comfy and relaxed.
  • Babies put on more weight if they are allowed to finish a whole feed on one breast before being offered the other one.

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HOW CAN I HELP?

  • ¬†Encourage mum, give her praise, breastfeeding is a learning experience for all involved.
  • Be involved with your baby in other ways than feeding.
  • Try and help with household chores so that she can sit and feed. Make her a cuppa if you can. This helps to make sure she is eating and drinking enough to keep her energy up.
  • If you think there is a problem with breastfeeding, get help from a specialist
  • Encourage her to continue as long as she wants to, but support her if she decides to give up, it may be a very difficult decision to make.


Click here for
local contact numbers for help and support

¬†If you’d like to share your thoughts and experiences of breastfeeding, please post your comments below…and thanks, without your support and understanding, it’s more difficult for women to choose to breastfeed and to stick with it.

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