A Partners Role in Breastfeeding


My Husband, by Stephanie Goulet Photography


When we think of the postpartum period, we often think about Mom and Baby and less about the Partner. What role does he or she play as a Parent when the focus is on breastfeeding, maternal recovery and acclimating the baby to life outside of the womb? "The Fourth Trimester" can be a wonderful adventure for Parents as they navigate these new waters, and for many Partners, it's also a time where they may flounder. Here are some tips on how to support the breastfeeding relationship while also integrating your important role into the Family. (To avoid confusion, I will refer to the Partner as Dad from here on out, fully recognizing that there exist female Partners of Mothers who are just as vital)

The Dads role in the breastfeeding relationship should not be underestimated. Support throughout the relationship, but particularly in the first weeks, when Mom has hormonal shifts, may have a steep learning curve in breastfeeding, and is more venerable to other's suggestions, is critical. Dads in this postpartum phase can do the following for Mom that makes all the difference:
  • Acting as Gatekeeper and Allowing Only Positive People Around Mom, or Limiting Access from Grumps
  • Providing Perspective During Challenging Moments and Reminding Mom that This Challenge Will Not Last Forever
  • Making Sure that Mom is Well Fed and Hydrated
  • Telling Mom that She is Doing a Great Job
  • Being Patient About Resuming Sex. It Will Happen, but Perhaps Not Immediately.

Dads are also an essential member of the family. Babies often respond immediately after birth to Dad's voice, having become familiar with it in the womb. Dads  not only calm Mom, but also the baby with their presence, and he can bond in the early weeks and months by
  • Holding Baby Skin to Skin
  • Wearing Baby in a Carrier such as a Moby Wrap
  • Making a Ritual of Changing Diapers (sing a song, provide massage afterwards)
  • Creating a Bathtime or Bedtime Routine

As Mothers, we become all consumed with our babies and often forget that our first loves were our Partners. It is essential to the relationship to recognize this and acknowledge this to your Partner, and to assure them that you know they may feel like the third wheel. Here are some ideas that you may want to try that could make your Partner feel more included, and fit into your new busy schedule.
  • Appreciation Goes a Long Way, thank Dad for all that he is doing for the Family
  • Point Out the Wins. Men are afraid to fail. If he is doing something for you that is particularly awesome, tell him!
  • Tell Him His Baby Loves Him. If you see that your baby is responding well to his touch or voice, let Dad know he's needed and recognized.
  • Carve Out 5 Minutes to Ask About His Day. Give your man a few moments of your undivided attention and ask him how he is feeling and what's going on in his day.
Resources for Partners