How dads can help with breastfeeding

Dad breastfeeding

(Disclaimer: This post is written by Michelle, the mom behind The Rad Dad Box)

When I was pregnant, neither my husband nor I believed he needed to be involved in breastfeeding. While we both read parenting books to prepare for our baby’s arrival, I was the only one who read breastfeeding books, and I attended the breastfeeding and pumping classes offered by our hospital by myself. Apparently, we weren’t the only couple who thought that Dad didn’t need to be involved in breastfeeding: there were only two dads-to-be in the breastfeeding class, and none in the pumping class!

However, when our son was born and had trouble latching, and I was having issues with my milk coming in, we realized how important it was for Dad to be involved, too.

Now, if you’re one of those moms whose baby latched immediately and started nursing like a champ, and who never had an issue with supply, then consider yourself lucky: You can ignore this post! However, if you’re still pregnant or if, like the majority of women, you have struggled or are currently struggling with breastfeeding, please keep reading to see how your partner can help.

  1. Attend breastfeeding classes with your partner. As a sign of how common our belief that dads didn’t need to help with breastfeeding was, there was a total of two men in my breastfeeding class. Don’t make the same mistake we did! Of course, as with most classes, you learn by practicing, but these classes will give you an idea of how breastfeeding works. The knowledge helps!
  2. Read up on breastfeeding, either through a book or online. My recommended breastfeeding book is The Nursing Mother’s Companion. It gets a little repetitive, but it was the most helpful book on breastfeeding I read. Kellymom and Breastfeeding Basics are also good resources. I also wrote a post for the It Takes a Village blog on breastfeeding necessities in the early days.
  3. Help your partner position the baby to breastfeed. In the early days, I had a lot of trouble figuring out the best position for the baby. My husband would suggest a certain arrangement of the breastfeeding pillows, which hold he thought would be better for the baby to feed, and just stay by my side while I was breastfeeding the baby. It was reassuring to have him there – especially since we were basically on our own after we left the hospital!
  4. Attend sessions with the lactation consultant. Before I became pregnant, I didn’t even know that this service existed. If you don’t already know, a lactation consultant assists women with breastfeeding. Lactation consultants perform an extremely important job, as almost all women struggle with breastfeeding in the beginning. During your sessions, she will watch you breastfeed, advise you on latch, positioning, and make sure the baby is swallowing and getting enough to eat. She also gave me advice on which nipple shields to use and how to eventually wean our son off the nipple shield. If you can, I would strongly advise Dads to come to these sessions as well.
  5. Bring water while she’s breastfeeding. This is one of the easiest ways Dads can help with breastfeeding. It’s a fact: breastfeeding will make Mom thirsty! Have a glass of water ready by her side while she’s nursing, or get ready to bring one to her during nursing sessions. Making sure the phone or remote is by her side helps, too.
  6. Wash the pump parts. During the first three weeks of our son’s life, my world was a haze of breastfeeding (45 minutes-1 hour), followed by pumping (15 minutes), followed by washing pump parts (5-10 minutes), and then getting maybe 45 minutes of work done before the cycle started again. It was such a relief for me when my husband washed the pump parts! It’s only a 5 minute task, but when you’re exhausted, even little things help a lot.
  7. When baby wakes up for a middle-of-the-night feed, change the baby’s diaper before bringing baby to your partner. We spoke with several moms who told us that it was very helpful when their husbands would change the baby’s diaper before bringing the baby to Mom to nurse in the middle of the night. It makes sense: Mom is still waking up, and it’s hard to change the diaper *and* nurse the baby, so if one of these tasks can be taken care of by Dad, it’s immensely helpful to the mother. As I said earlier, every little bit helps! (My husband and I took 5 hour shifts in the night and morning, so fortunately, I didn’t have to deal with waking up every 3 hours to feed the baby, but I realize that this is not a possibility for everyone.)
  8. Help with breastfeeding in public. I tried to avoid it for as long as I could, but inevitably, you will wind up in a situation where you will be breastfeeding in public. Some women are fine openly breastfeeding in public, but if your partner is not, there are many ways you can help her. First of all, you can help her adjust her nursing cover. If she’s having problems getting the baby to latch and needs to look at the baby, pull the top part of the nursing cover slightly away from her so she can see the baby but remain unexposed. If she’s getting the nursing cover on with both hands and baby is in her lap, hold the baby steady until she can hold the baby again.

Did we miss anything? Have any other tips on how dads can help with breastfeeding? Let us know in the comments!

7 Great Dad-themed books for children

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Parents nowadays are strongly encouraged to read to their children, starting from birth. It is also a great way for Dads to bond with their babies. Recent studies even suggest that kids develop better language skills when Dad reads to them. For these reasons and more, we’ve been including Dad-themed books in our boxes. If you are looking for Dad-themed books in your child’s library collection, please read below to see our picks.

Daddy cuddles book

 

  1. Daddy Cuddles (author Anne Gutman, illustrator Georg Hallensleben). Hallensleben’s soft, pastel-like illustrations were what attracted me to this board book. Each page features a dad-and-baby pair from different animal species and how each dad hugs and cuddles with his baby. We included this book in our July “Animal Kingdom” box.

 

My Dad Loves me book2.  My Dad Loves Me! (author and illustrator Marianne Richmond). Similar to Daddy Cuddles, this board book goes through different father-child animal pairs and talks about how each Dad animal cares for his child. I also love the illustrations, especially of the polar bears and the penguins. (Note: astute readers may notice the similarities between the penguins in this book and our logo, but I sketched our logo based on observations of penguins in the wild.) This book was included in our February “Beat the Winter Blues” box.

papa please get the moon

 

3. Papa, please get the moon for me (author and illustrator Eric Carle). Eric Carle of “Very Hungry Caterpillar” fame has also written and illustrated a sweet book about the father-daughter relationship! Monica wants the moon to play with, so her father builds a ladder to reach it – only to find that it’s too heavy! Available in board book and picture book formats.

 

 

Because I'm Your Dad

4. Because I’m Your Dad (author Ahmet Zappa, illustrator Dan Santat). The fun-loving Daddy monster in this board book would let his child have spaghetti for breakfast, French toast for dinner, and rocky road ice cream in the tub! This book is a fun tribute to Dads.

 

Papasaurus

5. Papasaurus (author and illustrator Stephan Lomp). A companion to “Mamasaurus”! Babysaurus loves playing hide-and-seek with Papasaurus, but when it’s Papasaurus’ turn to hide, Babysaurus can’t find him! This picture book is also great for older babies and toddlers who have graduated from board books. We are also huge fans of the illustrations. Look for this book in a future Rad Dad Box!

 

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6. You and Me, Me and You (author and illustrator Miguel Tanco). This book takes us through a father and son’s day in the city, during which they discuss life, and bond with each other. We also love Tanco’s retro-style illustrations. This is also a good book for toddlers and older children.

 

 

my dad used to be so cool

7. My Dad Used to be so Cool (author and illustrator Keith Negley). All dads have probably felt this way at one time or another! A new dad looks back wistfully on his pre-baby days, when he was in a band, rode motorcycles, and got tattoos, and laments about his lack of coolness. But his baby still thinks he’s totally rad!

 

 

Tributes to dads are important not only in helping men feel more confident as fathers, but also in helping children appreciate their dads. If you need more inspiration, The Guardian also has a list of their favorite Dad-themed children’s books!

What are some of your favorite dad-themed books?