Breastfeeding Duties for Dads

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 Breastfeeding for dads

Breastfeeding can be a lonely challenge in the beginning. You will probably spend a lot of hours in a quiet room away from other people, alone with your nursing infant.

Many late nights will be spent with just your baby in your rocking chair, or even worse: just you with the rhythmic whirl of the breast pump. It seems a little unfair that such an important part of parenting the new baby can’t always be split perfectly 50/50. But it’s simply reality that the majority of feeding duty will fall on the milk maid’s shoulders when only one parent has those magic milk producers.

Some husbands feel a bit of relief in that freedom and some feel a helplessness that frustrates them, but almost all men are clueless about how they can possibly help their partners through something like this.

Image by Laura K. Images

Until this point in their lives, most men thought of breasts as being merely decorative. It’s not really fair of us to expect them to do their fair share if we haven’t bothered explaining what we expect of them.

Let’s give our men a better understanding of what their new relationship with breasts will be about: choosing to breastfeed doesn’t mean your partner is totally off the hook. There are many ways they can help the nursing process that don’t require milk ducts. Here is a clear list of breastfeeding duties for dad that you can print out and hand to your partner before the baby comes.

1. Learn about breastfeeding. The first step to helping in any situation is understanding what you’re dealing with. Read a breastfeeding book or better yet, go with your wife to a breastfeeding class. Not only will this help you understand the basic terms that are now the center of your wife’s universe (like colostrum, latch, foremilk, and let-down) but it will show your wife how much you care about her efforts and how eager you are to be a solid parenting partner.

2. Keep water bottles full and within arm’s reach at all nursing stations. Breastfeeding makes a new mom very thirsty as her body needs extra fluids to produce milk. When let-down would happen for me, it felt like someone suddenly stuffed my mouth full of cotton. She can’t exactly pull off that newborn she just spent 30 minutes trying to get latched on just to grab a glass of water. This is a simple, yet incredibly helpful service you can provide. Along these same lines, breastfeeding also burns so many extra calories that it can leave a mama ravenous in the middle of the night. Set her up with some snacks she can easily eat with one hand, like granola bars.

Image by Heather Bee Photography

3. Know where each of her breastfeeding tools are and be ready to bring them to her at a moment’s notice. This includes items such as nursing pillows, nipple cream, gel packs from the freezer, burp cloths, etc. You should just plan on making it so she doesn’t need to get up out of her seat for any reason. Extra credit if you bring them before she asks. If you hear her say she’s going to feed the baby then go get her nursing pillow right away. If you know she likes to put on a little nipple cream after each feeding, unscrew the cap and have it ready if you see her burping the baby— she will appreciate it more than you know.

4. Prepare the breast pump. Pumping milk is probably the least desirable aspect of breastfeeding. It plain sucks, no pun intended. Share this burdensome chore by cleaning and assembling her pump parts so it’s one less thing for her to deal with. I know at first, it looks complicated and scary, but if a man can put together a carburetor he can assemble a breast pump. Read the manual and practice.

5. Provide some entertainment to keep her sane. No, we don’t expect you to put on a puppet show. Just make sure she has access to something to keep her mind occupied during the endless hours she will be sitting with the baby. Give her the remote control, her phone, a book, an iPad, etc. Keep all electronics fully charged for her when you can. That’s the kind of thing that will easily slip her sleep-deprived mind and drive her insane as her iPad cuts out on her at the eighth middle-of-the-night-feeding.

6. Step up in doing household chores. It will be hard for her to relax and focus on feeding the baby if the laundry is piling up and sink is overflowing with dirty dishes. You might not be able to step in and take over a feeding for her, but you can most definitely clean the house. Just keep thinking of anything you can take off her plate right now and do it.

7. As often as you can without being disingenuous, say things like “thank you for doing this for our baby,” “you’re doing a great job,” or “I’m proud of you.” And maybe even throw in an occasional compliment about how pretty she looks with wet circles on the front of her shirt and spit up dribbling down her shoulder. She will be emotional and exhausted right now and she is working very hard. She needs to hear these things from her partner. It doesn’t take much for you to say these things but it will mean a whole lot in how much it helps her.

8. Freely and frequently give back and foot rubs without expecting the favor to be returned. Sometimes it’s hard finding the right position in the beginning, sometimes she will be stiff and achy from sitting in the one position the baby will nurse in. Rub her tired muscles for her. The more relaxed she is the better the milk will flow, so doing this will definitely help get your baby fed. The affectionate touch will also make her feel supported at a time when she really needs it.

Image by Heather Bee Photography

9. Keep any other children or pets happily occupied while mom focuses on the job at hand. It’s not a good feeling when a baby who is latched onto her nipple suddenly yanks their head away because a toddler banged a toy next to him. A wonderful way you can help a nursing mother is to create a calm environment for her. This means making sure she is left alone from everyone, even the cat. Breastfeeding moms can often experience a sense of being “touched out” and might not want to deal with needy pets. You are her body guard, or more specifically her “boobie guard.”

10. Ask her what she needs. This sounds simple yet can be easy to forget. Ask her often what you can do to help her. Sometimes just you asking is all she really needs.

Think of yourself as her boxing coach. You can’t go in the ring to take the hits with her, but you can be in her corner waiting with a cool drink of water, a towel to wipe her brow and some motivational cheering to keep her spirits in fighting form.

 What are some ways your partner helped you achieve success breastfeeding? Share below!

34 Responses to Breastfeeding Duties for Dads

  1. GREAT list!!

  2. This is so awesome! My husband followed all of these tips and he didn’t even need direction from me. Definitely a great resource for pregnant mamas!

  3. Love this thanks for sharing!

  4. Great article! Very helpful tips for all the Dads out there

  5. Fantastic article Laura! Very helpful for dads.

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  7. All is true! I need work on #7 and #8. Great pics Laura!

  8. I LOVE this article! Some great tips!

    I have one to add… Help keep a sense of humor! I had a rough start and any research or phone calls from my mom would have me in tears. My husband was great at getting me to laugh and which helped me to relax.

  9. I’ve got one to add! Bring the baby to her when she’s ready! I liked to get all set up and then have the baby just placed into my waiting arms! Ooo and another thing – make sure she gets a break when she’s not breastfeeding! Sometimes it helped to just get away since you can easily get “touched out” when you’re breastfeeding.

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  11. I’d add that they can change diapers and bring baby to Momma. Just because we are doing the feeding doesn’t mean they can get up and help with getting baby ready to eat or putting baby back down!
    Also a big YES to thanking her and giving her compliments. It’s hard!!

  12. Great advice for my husband to be helpful and supportive, while also feeling involved.

  13. My husband fed me while I was feeding the baby. That way we all got to eat! I was thirsty and starving all the time so it was great that he did that for me. When my baby was really little I had to use both hands to support baby’s head and get her in the right position, so he made sure I could eat too. (o:

  14. Great list! My top one after water though was: BRING ME FOOD! :D

  15. my husband would get out of bed, go change the baby, then bring her to me and help me get positioned in bed for that first morning feeding…. He got to talk to and bond with the baby for a few minutes every morning, and I got time to run potty or just rest for a few more minutes….

  16. If things are tough and perhaps you are crying at 2 am because you are worried you don’t have enough milk, you are tired and your breasts are bloated and sore, this is what he needs to do: NOT tell you to stop breastfeeding and switch to formula because it is not worth it. I have had many teary moments, and especially then, you need him to listen to you, be supportive and ask what he can do to help, rub your back and get you chocolate. The next morning everything will be better anyway, and he can help you get some extra sleep by taking care of the baby so you can have a nap or something. Breastfeeding is important to many mums, and quitting is not an option. Be supportive when times get rough without offering advice on what to do.

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  19. Great list! After my first pumping sessions when I was building my supply for our twins, I shared the ml total and that created a good opportunity for him to know how it was going. I also recommend Dads attend lactation consultations. My first was uncomfortable because the consultant wasn’t respectful about asking to touch me while teaching our boys to latch. We changed consultants but my husband also started staying for the appointments to support me.

  20. I’m only 18 weeks preggo. My husband has already stepped up BIG TIME on cleaning the house and taking care of our one year old Boxer pup, but best believe I just emailed this list to him! LOL He has 22 weeks to get it! This is our first baby. We’re both excited, but neither of us know exactly what to expect. Thanks for this post! :)

  21. Thbreasts god list. However, remember that to breast feed all you need is you and baby. No set-up is really necessary (pillows, etc)just nice for sometimes. It is better to just go about your day and feed as soon as baby shows hunger signs, less stressful than having to prepare all this stuff each time baby eats.
    Also use paper goods for a while, and carry a water bottle.
    For those worried about not making enough milk-our bodies will make as much as baby needs-it works by supply and demand. The more baby nurses, the more is produced. Fenugreek works well to help support lactation too. Also rest, food, water, and relaxing are also important. But remember, even without these you will very likely produce enough milk-women all over the world do.
    It’s great for dads to get involved, but they can hold the baby when moms done nursing or change diapers. Just hanging out and talking while baby nurses will probibly be the best thing to relax mom.

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  24. Yes!! My husband always refilled my water mug with fresh ice water and got me a snack while I worked to get Baby to latch. It was so helpful and comforting to know that he was right there with me through such a difficult experience. It not only freed me up to focus on our baby, but helped my husband and I bond, as well.

  25. Well that’s a fantasy list

  26. I had a newborn last Christmas and it was great – I got to sit on the couch by the fire, chatting, eating mince pies and breastfeeding while others did kitchen duties ;) I followed the LLL Safe Seven for Co sleeping and my baby has spent the last year sleeping beside me, using me as a foot rest, and the late night feeds involve pulling up my top and going back to sleep. Love breastfeeding <3

  27. Our Boy is now 9 and a half months old but in the morning if he’s awake, my husband will get him up and change him then bring him to me so that I can squeeze those extra few minutes of having my eyes closed into the morning. Then Baby and I have a lovely feed all snuggled up.

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  30. Burping the baby and changing diapers! My husband is great at burping the baby when I switch sides for feeding. He’s actually better at getting a burp than I am. He also offers to change the baby, which really helps. During those first couple of weeks, when milk is coming in and nighttime feeds are frequent, we have a system. He changes the baby’s diaper while I use the restroom and drink some water, then I feed the baby on one side, then hubby burps baby and I feed on the other side. This helps me feel like I’m not stuck doing all the work!

  31. My husband said the most helpful thing to me which I’ll never forget, when I was tired and stressed and wanted to give up he said ‘don’t give up at the end of an exhausting day, get some sleep and see how you feel tomorrow. The next day I woke up, my baby cried, I fed her – and I kept at that for 13 months in total. I wanted to give up three times, but each his words resonated with me. He is awesome. :)

  32. My husband is our resident burp expert! I have him burp and change our daughter while I get myself set up and it helps to have him put her into my arms when she’s ready so I can get comfy and then not have to move to pick her up. And it gives him quality time with her before and during nursing sessions :)

  33. Really well thought out list. Thank you for sharing.

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