It's rare to see a man post about anything related to breastfeeding, so we sit up and pay attention when someone actually talks about it like this dad from Los Angeles, California. He shared his take of how dads can help their breastfeeding partners.
Muhammed Nitoto, a dad to two little girls and a self-tagged "dad-vocate," kept it real in his "Daddy Chronicles." He wanted to answer this much-asked question from fellow dads: When a mom nurses "what is there for me to do?"
5 ways dads can help breastfeeding moms
According to Muhammed, there are plenty of things new dads can do after the birth of the child as well as to support his breastfeeding partner.
1. "When mom wakes up in the middle of the night, you get up and ask if she needs any help or water."
During the first few weeks or so after welcoming a new baby, it usually means sleepless nights. Newborns feed almost every two to three hours, so moms who need to wake up (or stay up) and feed her baby a few times in the middle of the night. Moms do appreciate it if their partners at least show her that he's there to help in whatever way he can.
"The truth is most of the time she will say no, but just the fact that you offered will go far," Muhammed added. (Click here for some tips when caring for your newborn at night.)
2. "Ask mom if she can pump and then pick one feeding that you will always do."
During the first few weeks, a new mom and the baby will encounter and overcome (hopefully!) some challenges of breastfeeding, such as how to latch correctly, establish milk supply and do some semblance of a schedule. When your partner and your baby has settled their breastfeeding routine, that's the time dads can step in and take over one or a few feeding sessions.
"Mom will take on almost everything and will burn herself out if you let her," Mohammed explained. He urged his fellow dads to sometimes "force her to rest without worrying about the baby," if needed. It's easier to do it when you've gotten the hang of your scheduled alone feeding times with your child. "This is an easy way to do that without a fight," the dad of two assured.
3. "Don't put a time limit on how long mom breastfeeds the baby. Do not try and rush this process."
Mohammed acknowledged that it's a little harder for dads to grasp the fact that some babies feed and get full for 15 minutes, but some may feed for hours, usually when they're cluster feeding because they're experiencing a growth spurt. (Click here for 12 things you need to know about breastfeeding a newborn.)
"It's not just about feeding your child; it's about them bonding as well," he added. Mohammed also warned that dads who try to speed up the nursing process will only find themselves in a fight they can't win. (Click here to learn about a nursing mom's breastfeeding schedule in your child's first year.)
4. Be patient.
Mohammed acknowledged that the excitement they feel is equal to what moms feel, though dads may not feel as important YET! "Your time will come faster than you know. Babies grow fast, and the stronger bigger they get, the more Daddy Time will be coming your way," he assured her fellow dads.
5. "Paternity leave! If you have it, TAKE IT!"
"The early stages of a child's life are not just for moms to enjoy. It's equally as important that you as a Dad get to be a part of the early development of your child," Mohammed stressed. Being an involved or dad starts from your partner's pregnancy. Experts also recommend being present during the birth of your child, which helps dads want to be more hands-on in raising kids. (Click here for five reasons to be present at the birth of your child and here for what to expect in the delivery room.)
Mohammed also recognized that having a child can be expensive, and some dads feel the pressure to earn to support their family. "Trust me, you can always make money, but there are no instant replays in life. It doesn't make you more of a man to not take the leave," he stressed. (Check here if you're eligible for paternity leave under Philippine laws and here for how to spend it wisely.)
For more breastfeeding tips, click here.