How dads can support breastfeeding

So, you’ve just become a father.

The pride, joy, and delight you feel is likely mixed with fear and nervousness. After all, your new role will last for decades to come.

You may not know it, but your job as dad is key to your baby’s breastfeeding success. Learn more about how you can help mom and baby with these simple breastfeeding support tips for dads.

What Can Dads Do to Help After Birth?

  • Arrange for extra help: New mothers need lots of support.
  • Learn about breastfeeding. It is easy to support your partner when you believe in what she is doing. She’ll love you for it.
  • Know that breastfeeding saves big money. You can save about $2,000 in formula costs during the first year of your baby’s life.
  • Limit visitors. What your partner needs most now is rest, help, and time with your baby.
  • Know who to call with breastfeeding questions: Magee-Womens Hospital Lactation Center at 412-641-1121.

If I Can’t Bottle-Feed, What Can I Do with My Newborn?

  • Spend time with your baby.
  • Give your baby a bath.
  • Bring your baby to your partner for feedings, even during the night.
  • Cuddle and walk, because movement calms babies.
  • Talk and sing to your baby: This is how they learn to talk.
  • Change your baby’s diaper.
  • Hold your baby. This gives your partner time to take a shower or eat.
  • Play with your baby, and help them learn.

Some dads may want to bottle-feed their baby with mother’s milk, but if your baby is breastfeeding and gaining weight, you may want to put off bottle-feeding until breastfeeding is well-established. Remember, if a baby gets a bottle too early, they may not want to breastfeed.

How Can I Help My Partner with Breastfeeding?

  • Help her get comfortable, and be sure she has what she needs. Help arrange pillows, and bring her something to drink.
  • Help her get her sleep. Remind her to nap when the baby sleeps during the day.
  • Offer to help with housework so she can rest.
  • Run errands for her, so she can focus on the baby.
  • Spend time with older children.
  • Cook a meal and shop to make sure she has healthy snacks.
  • Talk and listen to her feelings.

Will Breastfeeding Affect Our Sex Life?

  • Breastfeeding is a time of intense closeness between mother and baby and includes lots of touching. So, at first your partner may have less interest in sex. Do not take this personally. Give her time and space.
  • When she has had her six-week checkup and you’re both ready to resume having sex, keep in mind the hormones of breastfeeding may cause vaginal dryness. Plan ahead and have lubricant on hand.
  • Do NOT rely on breastfeeding as your sole method of birth control, talk to your healthcare provider about birth control options.

Will Breastfeeding Make Me a Less-Involved Dad?

Years ago after a baby’s birth, mothers and fathers were expected to take on a set role. Breastfeeding was the mother’s job alone. Today, many dads are more active in baby care and parenting.

If your partner breastfeeds, you can still be an active parent by caring for the baby. When your baby has mastered breastfeeding, you can bottle-feed pumped mother’s milk.

Find the care you need at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC.