When we think of breastfeeding, the focus is usually on the mum. But did you know that dads also have an important role in enabling and supporting breastfeeding?
Royal Philips, a global leader in health technology, has released findings from a global study (coinciding with World Breastfeeding week 2019), revealing the important role that dads can play in the breastfeeding process.
These research findings from Philips Avent reveal the importance of a dad’s participation in the breastfeeding journey:
- Mums who received support from husband/partner are more likely to initiate and continue breastfeeding for longer. In fact, 98% of mums who breastfeed have husbands who value breastfeeding.
- While 82% of husbands/partners are involved in comforting and checking up on the baby, mums surveyed would like help in areas such as night feeding and preparing bottle feeds.
- Supporting the breastfeeding process is great for father-infant bonding. This has been shown to have several benefits for the infant, including reducing cognitive delay and promoting weight gain in pre-term infants
“The role of the father has changed in the past few decades,” says Prof. Abou-Dakn, Chief physician of Gynaecology at the St. Joseph Hospital in Berlin and a specialist on the topic of father-infant bonding.
“Men are now much more willing to be hands-on in the child raising process. Not only are men more often present at births, but they are also taking on a lot of the childcare duties too.”
“This includes supporting the breastfeeding process, which is great for father-infant bonding and has long-lasting benefits which baby will carry into later life.”
On the positive side, when it came to breastfeeding, the majority of mums who were surveyed were satisfied with the support they received from dads. Also, 81% of dads wanted to be involved in the breastfeeding journey.
In fact, we noticed how much dads wanted to be involved, at the Philips AVENT Presents Guide to Successful Breastfeeding event, which took place on 3 August 2019.
It was heartening to see dads-to-be noting down important information, and asking questions, as Sister Lilian Pong (State Certified Midwife and Senior Parent Craft and Lactation Consultant) shared useful tips on breastfeeding and postnatal nutrition.
Let’s start off by looking at some tips Sister Lilian shared for new dads, on how they can be more involved in their baby’s first few days:
1. Help mums out by cleaning breast pumps/bottles
In fact, this resonates with the findings of the Philips Avent study, where mums wanted their partners to be more involved, especially in feeding at night, cleaning breast pump/ bottles, and researching on how to feed the baby.
2. Skin-to-skin contact with baby
We all know how important skin-to-skin contact is for the baby. But, can dads do skin-to-skin as well?
Prof. Abou-Dakn shared with us that dads could use skin-to-skin contact to bond with their little ones, especially when mums were unable to do so (For example, in the case of a C-section).
“Skin-to-skin contact is instrumental in regulating the temperature of the baby. After birth, babies need their temperature to be controlled,” said Prof. Abou-Dakn.
Sister Lilian, meanwhile, had an interesting tip for us.
“Some dads have a hairy chest. Therefore, in such cases, for dads, I recommend skin-to-skin bonding over their breast or below, along their tummy. Not over their chest,” she explained.
3. Burp your baby – the RIGHT way
Another great way for dads to be more involved, and help mums out, is by burping the baby.
Sister Lilian shared the right way to burp a baby:
- Place the baby on your lap in 100 degrees position (not fully vertical, lean the baby forward by around 10 degrees).
- Cup your hand, and pat your baby repeatedly on the back, in line with the baby’s armpit.
Sister Lilian shares, “Don’t flatten your hands – by cupping your hands, you are using air to pat the baby, which is not painful.”
- Also, according to Sister Lilian, you should never rub in a circular motion to burp your baby.
Other tips for breastfeeding mums from Sister Lilian
Here are some more tips from Sister Lilian for breastfeeding mums:
1. Flat/inverted nipple problems
Mums with flat or inverted nipples might find it tough to breastfeed their baby because it will be difficult for the baby to find a good latch.
According to Sister Lilian, pulling the nipple and rolling is hard for mums-to-be, and can actually trigger premature labour.
She recommends instead, to use the Philips Niplette™. The Philips Niplette™ pulls the nipple out into a thimble-like cup through gentle suction. It is easy to use and works very fast.
2. Correct way to massage your breasts
“Avoid ‘finger pointing’ or ‘arrowing in’ (pressing down with finger tips) during massage. It can cause pain, and there will be certain parts you will miss out,” says Sister Lilian.
“Instead, put your hand at the top of the breast, press firmly inwards with your palm and move clockwise 8-10 times, and backwards 8-10 times. Proceed all around the breast and repeat the motion.
“Doing this helps the milk to be released from the milk reservoirs into the milk ducts. The next step is to cup your breasts and shake or vibrate them (avoid ‘finger pointing’ again), so that the milk becomes available for your baby to suck.”
“If you are suffering from breast engorgement, applying cabbage leaf compresses to the breast can be helpful,” says Sister Lilian.
Don’t overuse cabbage leaves though, because doing so can decrease the breast milk supply. Stop cabbage use when the engorgement begins to subside.
Also, if you are wondering what to look for when buying a breast pump, Sister Lilian has a recommendation.
“The Philips AVENT Double Electric Breast Pump has shorter flanges, and the attachments enable mums with different nipple sizes to pump milk efficiently,” she says.
“Also, mums can sit comfortably while pumping, they don’t have to lean forward.”
“If you are pumping milk, always pump AFTER breastfeeding your baby.”
3. Sore nipples
A poor latch or incorrect positioning are the most common causes of sore nipples. Breastfeeding should be a pleasant experience for both mum and baby. Experiencing sore nipples takes away the joy of breastfeeding and makes it a painful process.
A natural remedy for sore nipples is to pat a few drops of breast milk onto the affected nipple before and after nursing and allowing them to air dry. Breast milk, because of its antimicrobial properties, promotes healing.
Also, the Philips AVENT Moisturizing Nipple Cream helps in nipple care, and in the treatment of sore nipples.
4. Confinement diet
Sister Lilian shared that she was very particular about the amount of fluids a new mum should consume every day.
She recommends, “At least 2 litres of liquids for 3-4 days, and 3 litres from the 5th day onwards. Liquids includes milk, soup and other beverages.”
“If baby needs 60 ml of milk every feed (for example), and feeds 8 times, that makes it 480 ml of milk. A new mum will lose at least 1.8 litres of urine a day, so if she doesn’t drink enough fluids, she will end up being dehydrated,” she explained.
Interestingly, Sister Lilian doesn’t recommend consuming both red dates and longans together during confinement as she considers it too sugary.
“The most nutritious way is to boil lemongrass with either red longans or dates. That is the perfect drink.”
Mums, we hope you found these tips on breastfeeding your baby useful. Dads, both mum and baby need you to be actively involved too. It aids childhood development and helps in the overall well-being of the family!
For more information on breastfeeding products such as breast pumps, breast pads and cold packs, visit Philips AVENT, the #1 recommended brand by mums worldwide.*
*Based on December 2015 GemSeek online satisfaction survey conducted among more than 9,000 female users of childcare brands and products.