As we mark World Breastfeeding Week (1–7 August), Dr Tom York – new dad and NHS-registered GP from the doctor on demand app GPDQ – shares his breastfeeding guide and tells us how new dads can help
There are so many benefits to breastfeeding – it’s free, is full of healthy antibodies for baby, and is good for the environment too. It can however take several weeks after birth before it becomes second nature, and during this time support from dad is invaluable. Here’s how you can help:
1. Set up a comfy environment
You can prepare the perfect breastfeeding environment even before the baby is born. A warm, quiet room, free from drafts and with soft lighting is ideal. You’ll need a comfortable chair in which mum can sit upright – a rocking chair is a great option. A breastfeeding pillow can also prove very useful in the first few months, providing extra comfort and better positioning for pain-free feeding.
2. Offer encouragement
Breastfeeding can be stressful for a new mum, especially in the early days when they’re still getting the hang of it. Stay positive for your partner – she’ll no doubt be exhausted and may feel overwhelmed at times. Listen to her if she needs to vent, encourage her if she needs it and congratulate her when things are going well.
3. Give her some time out
Several times a day, try and take the baby on your own to give mum some time to herself. Being out of earshot is helpful too – she’ll be super aware of any baby noises, so perhaps go for a walk or even just into a different room to help her fully relax and maybe catch a wink or two.
4. Help with housework
In the first few weeks, your other half will have little time or energy for doing anything more than looking after a baby, breastfeeding and sleeping. Try and keep the house tidy for both your sakes and make sure you’re stocked up on tasty meals and healthy snacks – breastfeeding can be hungry work!
5. Take charge of the baby bag
Take charge of the ‘baby bag’ for when you both feel ready to venture out into the big wide world with your new arrival. Make sure it’s stocked up with all the essentials – wipes, clothes, nappies, and bits for breastfeeding on the go, like a breastfeeding cushion, a sheet for privacy and a spare maternity top.