In order to establish a good milk supply, it is important that the baby nurse often at the breast during the first three weeks. Routine pumping can begin after three weeks, and this is when a baby should be introduced to a bottle. Waiting until the baby is three weeks old can also help prevent nipple confusion.
Without the option to bottle-feed baby mom’s breast milk, dad can feel left out of his child’s care during those early days. So how can fathers be involved with breastfeeding?
1) Attend a class on breastfeeding with your wife close to the end of her pregnancy so you learn the same information she is, including why breastfeeding is so important, how to get breastfeeding off to a good start and methods to help through the rough spots.
2) Take advantage of opportunities to care for your baby other than feeding:
- Burp your baby after or between feedings
- Change diapers (frequently!)
- Bring your baby to mom to nurse at night
- Walk, talk or read to your little one
- Hold your baby often
3) Look for any opportunity to help mom, such as:
- Telling her what a good job she is doing
- Bringing her snacks and beverages
- Offering to walk, talk or read to the baby so she can shower, nap or eat
- Taking care of all of the housework so she has ample time to feed the baby and get some rest
- Attending her follow-up appointments so you can both learn how to troubleshoot common breastfeeding issues
- Encouraging her to call a lactation consultant if she has questions
- Reminding her that she is giving the baby the very best start by giving the gift only she can give – her breast milk
But most of all, tell her that you love her and will be there to support and care for her and the baby. You are the closest person to her and the baby and can be ready to provide her with the support she needs close to home.
Lactation nurses at OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center are always willing to talk or meet with you both discuss questions or concerns. You can reach us by calling the Post-partum Clinic at 815-227-2744 or by calling the OB Department at OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center at 815-395-5226.