In 2011, South Africa committed to promoting exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) for six months for all mothers, regardless of HIV status, in line with WHO recommendations. This was a marked shift from earlier policies, and with it, average EBF rates increased from less than 10% in 2011 to 32% by 2016, albeit this is still one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world.
It would seem that breastfeeding is the sole domain of mothers. Not entire true - sometimes Dad's help can be invaluable. Find out how dad can support his partner in breastfeeding.
A breastfeeding mother has a special bond with her baby. Fortunately, daddies, who are more and more willing to take care of children, may feel a bit sidelined as a result. The birth of a child is also a big deal in for them and sometimes it happens that they feel lost or helpless. They would like to somehow support their partner, but they do not always have an idea how. So here are some helpful tips for the hands-on fathers - we salute you too!
There is no need to convince anyone of the importance of breastfeeding. However, not everyone is aware of the fact that especially the beginnings of this road can be bumpy. Having both parents involved can certainly help overcome it.
Dad, take care of a breastfeeding mom!
It's no secret that breastfeeding starts in the head, which means that the success of this mission largely depends on the mental state of the mother. The love and care of the dad will certainly strengthen mom and help her overcome her initial difficulties.
Sometimes a kind word or a kind gesture is enough to reassure mom that she is doing great and is very brave. From time to time you may remind your partner that she can always count on your support. Under no circumstances should you criticize or show impatience towards her. Not only will it spoil the relationship between you, but it can also cause unnecessary stress on the mother, which in turn usually results in problems with lactation.
It is equally harmful to put pressure on your partner, not only by you, but also by other people around her. Make sure that those who need to educate the young mother keep their enlightened remarks to themselves or, if necessary, are not close to her.
Dad, help mom with household chores!
It would seem obvious, but some dads may want to be reminded that they have to take over the responsibilities of mom. The more comfortable conditions you create for your partner right after giving birth, the sooner she will regain strength and learn how to breastfeed.
So roll up your sleeves, Daddy, and get to work! Make sure your partner doesn't have to bother with washing up, cleaning, cooking or shopping. If you mobilize for some time or look back, the grateful mother of your child will gain strength, practice and self-confidence and will turn back to running the house.
Dad, you can help with feeding the baby too
This is not only about formula-fed babies, in their case the matter is obvious. Of course, you cannot latch your baby to the breast, but you can prepare your partner a comfortable feeding place. Believe me, this is an extremely important thing. Breastfeeding in an uncomfortable position is not pleasant for mom and won't be a calming feed for baby.
So make sure she has a pillow handy if she needs it, or give her a glass of water. By providing mom with comfortable conditions, you will be sure that your child has a chance to eat his fill.
Now, Dad, you can take over the baby and walk with him for a moment to help relieve colic because of the air baby might have swallowed while feeding. Mom can take care of herself for a while during this time.
Of course, if necessary, you can feed your baby with milk previously drawn with a breast pump, from the bottle. It really isn't that hard. You just need to follow mom's instructions.
Dad, your help is also needed at night
Many moms take night feeding solely on themselves, explaining that their partner has to get enough sleep because they go to work in the morning. The truth is that mother will face a no less exhausting and responsible work with the baby.
There is no problem when night feeding is smooth and baby eats quickly and then calmly falls asleep hugged to the breast or in his bed. The reality, however, is not always that rosy and it happens that many nights in a row the baby wakes up to feed and then cannot fall asleep due to e.g. colic.
Don't let your partner stay awake every night, Dad. Exhausting a mother can have a devastating effect on lactation. Make an appointment with your partner that if night feeds are necessary, you can alternate. You may not be in top shape the next day at work, but you will certainly gain mom's gratitude and you will be able to strengthen your bond with your baby.
Dad, learn about breastfeeding!
The more you know about breastfeeding, the easier it will be for you to understand your nursing mother's needs and the easier it will be to help her. You will also gain self-confidence, which can be extremely valuable in crisis situations.
Don't get out of birthing classes. Meetings with a lactation consultant will provide you with valuable knowledge. If for some reason you cannot participate in the classes, you can easily find a lot of helpful publications on the Internet. (link to the article on lactation) Take a few moments to explore the topic. You will not regret. By being a conscious hands-on father you have a much better chance of building a healthy and solid relationship within your family.