New motherhood is super intense for moms—so dads can be left wondering exactly how they can help. We talked to some of our favorite dads for their ideas about how to help new mamas in their lives. Here’s what they said:
When your partner is breastfeeding, it's your duty to help with literally anything
else that will make it easier and more comfortable for her.
This includes making sure she has an unlimited supply of ice water, refilling the ice trays when necessary (while wishing you had splurged on the fridge with an ice maker), getting her pillows and helping set up the baby's restaurant area, and making sure her phone and headphones are nearby so she can listen to her favorite podcasts while the baby nurses. You can also hold the baby (even if she's screaming) while your wife prepares herself or give mommy a few extra minutes of rest by changing a diaper before the feeding.
When my daughter was born and still feeding multiple times every night, I would be the first responder to her cries. I dragged myself sleepily out of bed, pulled my daughter Maddie out of her cradle and changed her diaper. My wife would then feed her while I went back to sleep, but if Maddie didn't immediately fall back to sleep after eating, I would take over again, attempting to rock her to sleep.
Now that Maddie is five months old, we have continued to sometimes use the "Daddy Changes Her" method to buy my wife a few extra minutes of sleep or relaxation in the morning.
Now that I've returned to work and she is staying home, this isn't always possible and she handles most of the overnight feedings by herself, but she always appreciates it when I can give her that brief break. Plus, Maddie has reached a very playful age and I can usually buy even more time with her before she starts freaking out in search of a boob.
When the feeding is over, Mommy's job might be momentarily finished, but your job as her breast friend is not. Breastfeeding is taxing on your wife's body in more ways than you can possibly imagine, so a back rub or foot massage can go a long way in helping her to forget how tired she is or provide a distraction from the discomfort of that clogged duct.
The best advice? Ask your wife what you can do to make things easier for her
. Even today, I never leave the room without asking if there's anything else she needs. She is ensuring that your baby has all the nutrients, nourishment and comfort necessary to stay alive. Do whatever she asks.
Movies and books make breastfeeding look so simple, but it can be a bit tougher than it looks. There’s the latching on problems that can cause upset for both mother and baby, there’s the burning pain of a bad latch and then later on there’s the razor sharp teeth to consider, plus the possibility of infection—no mention of mastitis in the movies, huh?!
Us dads have to be as encouraging as possible, especially in the early days when it can all be quite stressful. Making sure we’re there when the breastfeeding experts lend their expertise always helps, after all two sets of eyes watching the varying techniques are better than one. Also make sure you attend any breastfeeding sessions during any prenatal baby groups so you both know what to expect. The group we used stated the breastfeeding class was optional for dads and only two of us (out of a possible 10) attended_poor showing from the dads.
Whatever happens, if you choose to breastfeed, those nipples are going to take a battering over the coming weeks and months. When mom is desperate for some kind of relief, make sure you’re the one dashing to the doctor for nipple cream or guards. It also helps to be on the same page when it comes to discussing moving away from breastfeeding, so make sure you’re supportive of your partner’s plan when it comes; making the decision to switch to formula or cut down on feeds can be hugely emotional but tackling it together can really help lessen the load.