Breastfeeding is more effective when both parents are involved
Husbands, it's time to get stuck in!
You’re awake at an ungodly hour as your baby is latched onto your breasts and sucking away like there’s no tomorrow. The pain continually stings, yet you hope your child is fed full. The struggle is real and yet partner is right there, snoozing away. And you wonder “does it ever get any easier?”
Many mums confess to finding breastfeeding stressful
Breastfeeding is part and parcel of nurturing your little one. Up to 95 per cent of mothers start breastfeeding after birth, but only 38 per cent stay the course and keep it up after six months. In fact, up to 60 per cent of women report stopping breastfeeding earlier than they wanted to. This means only 60 per cent of mums are able to give their babies the benefits of breastfeeding. These include the strengthening of the emotional bond between mother and baby, lowering of risks of allergies, and promoting better health in babies.
But what really stops mothers from breastfeeding for longer?
Some of the challenges mummies go through include the physical pain of breastfeeding itself, a perceived low milk supply, and a lack of support from loved ones.
While there are many ways and hacks mummies can try to make the breastfeeding journey easier, it can feel like an uphill battle.
So where do the fellas come into this picture? Can partners really support women with breastfeeding in a meaningful manner?
Study reveals partners play a much bigger role in breastfeeding than expected
A recent study conducted by Royal Philips highlights how important partners are in the breastfeeding process. While men can’t lactate and take latching shifts, there is a lot that men can do to support their partners.
Nearly all women surveyed reported a desire for their partners to be involved in all aspects of caring for their newborn baby. The good news is, 81 per cent of dads said they want to help. However, there are some areas that guys could put more effort into upping their game.
65 per cent of mothers would like their partners to help prepare the next bottle feed and 63 per cent want support with feeding the baby at night time. However, only 46 per cent of men clean breast pumps, while 41 per cent of partners researches on how to feed the baby.
But the study was not just to vilify men as uncaring or negligent, in fact, it noted that 76 per cent of women believe their partners could help with the breastfeeding process if there was more information available. It also found that if there were sufficient resources to educate fathers, the likelihood of mothers continuing to breastfeed after 6 months can double.
6 practical tips for men to support their partner’s breastfeeding journey
The role of the father has changed over many years. Men are now much more hands-on in raising their children. And with these new findings, it’s even more encouraging to hear that fathers can have a greater impact on their little one’s development in the early years.
Here are some practical tips men can start from to help mothers in making their breastfeeding journey less stressful.
1. Learn how to clean the bottle pump
Cleaning the breast pump gives mums to relax by showing you’re capable of handling the milk and cleaning the bottles.
Each time they’re used, dismantle the pump and clean each component separately. Once each day, sterilise the bottle pump – place all the pump parts into a pot of boiling water and cover for 10 minutes, or use a sterilising machine.
2. Research how to feed the baby
Spend some time learning how to feed the baby with a bottle. This includes the correct positioning of the head and how to get your little one to latch.
Consider attending an antenatal breastfeeding class as well, so you can get a better understanding of what your wife goes through. When both parents know the best breastfeeding practices, the partner can be a positive and encouraging coach!
3. Learning the baby’s hungry cues
Generally, newborns get hungry every two to three hours. However, no baby is the same. If you feel your little one is getting hungry again, get ready to feed him. Each baby’s hunger cues vary. Some, like my own child, smacks her lips a lot. Others start sticking their tongues out. As you spend more time with your little one, you’ll learn how they communicate. Remember, you’ve got this!
4. Set up a schedule for night feeding
The research said 63 per cent of ladies want help with feeding the baby at night time! Sleep is precious real estate that everyone wants a share of. Help your partner out by taking steps to be awake when your little one is awake. If you’re a heavy sleeper, set regular alarms throughout the night. When you hear the baby crying, make sure you get out of the bed! As groggy as you may feel, it’s the first step to helping with night feeding!
5. Take care of the one with the milk supply!
Mums have it hard. Despite being seen as a superhuman who can seemingly juggle having a career and family, being a mum takes its toll on your loved one’s physical and mental wellbeing!
Guys, you can do your part by looking out for your partner’s needs. This can be as simple as ensuring they’re hydrated and having a glass of water handy or giving her a pillow to reduce the strain on her back. As much as you hate it, it might mean taking on extra house chores you normally avoid.
6. Provide food to increase milk supply
If your loved one is going through a dry spell, eating certain foods help with producing better milk supply. You can include nutritious fruits like papaya and avocado. Some of them can be eaten raw, so throw them into salads.
We hope this gives you some inspiration on how to support your loved ones during the breastfeeding journey. It might be tough at the beginning, but there’s nothing the two of you can’t overcome together!