Just for Dads: Why breastfeed?

Did you know that your feelings and attitudes about breastfeeding will weigh heavily on your partner’s decision to breastfeed and continue breastfeeding? Dads play an important role in the breastfeeding relationship from pregnancy on. YOU can help make breastfeeding easier for your partner!

Why should my partner breastfeed?

  • Nutrition: Breastmilk has everything your baby needs for normal growth and development.
  • Protection against infection: Breastmilk provides your baby with active immune factors. It also provides prebiotics, and probiotics for normal gut health and function, which is essential to immune function.
  • Protection against future disease: Breastfeeding helps protect babies from diabetes, obesity, heart disease, asthma, diarrhea, respiratory infections, allergies, certain types of cancer, and much more. Breastfeeding also protects moms from heart disease, type 2 diabetes, ovarian cancer, premenopausal breast cancer, and osteoporosis.
  • Cheap: Save more than a thousand dollars over the cost of formula, feeding supplies, and doctor visits in baby’s first year alone!
  • Convenient: Breastmilk is always ready when your baby shows signs of hunger. No getting up in the middle of the night to mix, warm, and feed formula and no running to the store to purchase formula and feeding supplies.
  • Natural: Mother’s milk is the food that babies are born to eat. It contains everything your baby needs to grow healthy and strong.  Did you know that formula is made of artificial vitamins and minerals in a base of cow’s milk or soybean protein, vegetable oils, and corn sugar? It may have other things added, such as an oil called DHA which is made from pond algae. While formula can provide nutrition your baby needs to grow, it does not contain everything that breastmilk does. Some of those things are very important to your baby’s health and development! Mother’s milk has it all.
  • Traditional: Breastfeeding has kept our people strong since the beginning of time. It is respectful of both culture and heritage.

How can I encourage my partner to breastfeed?

  • Talk  to her about breastfeeding when trying for a baby and during early pregnancy. Studies show these are the times when most mothers make the decision to breastfeed.
  • Let your partner know that you want her to breastfeed and you will be there to help and support her.
  • Ask family to support your partner’s decision to breastfeed.  The support of family, especially the support of her mother, can help your partner reach her breastfeeding goals.
  • Learn all you can about breastfeeding. Take a birth and breastfeeding class and/or attend a breastfeeding support meeting with your partner. If classes are not available in your area, read recommended books and websites together. Make an effort to understand how breastfeeding works and what to expect, especially in the early weeks.
  • Assure your partner’s health care provider knows that you plan to breastfeed. Ask for his or her support.
  • During and after birth, advocate for your partner. Assure her care providers are aware of her plans to breastfeed. Request that she is given the opportunity to bond and breastfeed immediately after birth, and she and baby aren’t separated unless it is medically necessary.
  • If your partner experiences any problems with breastfeeding, encourage her to get help immediately.
  • Tell your partner you’re proud of her for breastfeeding! Help her with little things like bringing her water or massaging her shoulders.
  • Spend time bonding with your baby, skin to skin.  Do special things for your baby like changing diapers, bathing, walking, rocking, or wearing your baby in a carrier.

More info:
Why Breastfeed?

14 Ways for Dads to be Engaged with their Breastfed Babes

References:

Arora S, McJunkin C, et al (2000) Major Factors Influencing Breastfeeding Rates: Mother’s Perception of Father’s Attitude and Milk Supply Pediatrics 106(5):e65

Gartner L, Morton J, et al (2005) Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk Pediatrics 115(2):496-506

© Native Mothering–All Rights Reserved

Last updated 6/15/14

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