Whether you’re a mum or a dad, we just want the best for our babies.
And unfortunately, most of the burden does seem to fall on the mum. But listen up, dads! You can do plenty of things ― priceless ways you can help your wife – to help her shoulder this task of breastfeeding your child.
Here are 10 ways you can help your wife succeed in her nursing journey.
1. Learn about breastfeeding
Even before bubba arrives, dads can pick up a book or two to learn about the benefits, and potential challenges of breastfeeding. Another option is to take breastfeeding class ― most hospitals have them all year round.
Make sure you know some key facts ― like how long each breastfeeding session should last, how often your baby should feed, and what to do if your wife feels pain on her nipples, or is engorged.
Whether you should offer these nuggets of information is secondary ― the whole idea is that your wife feels that she’s supported, and not alone on this breastfeeding journey.
Gently and firmly remind them that while you know they are trying to help, their comments may be counterproductive.
2. Be encouraging
Did we mention that breastfeeding was tough? Your wife may shed tears and say harsh words, especially while she ― as a new mum ― is going through a roller-coaster of hormonal changes. It’s up to you to gently keep her going.
Compliment her on her strength and dedication, and tell her what an amazing mum she is. Tell her she looks beautiful ― sometimes, it’s what a woman really needs to hear as she goes through 3am feedings with leaky breasts. Says mum of two Nora Ashikin, “Everyone else can say what they want, but as long as I knew I had my husband’s support, I would persevere through breastfeeding.”
3. Be her gatekeeper
Friends and relatives may long to see your newborn, and you’re probably receiving countless text messages asking when it’s a good time to visit. But you’ll know that there’s no set schedule to your peewee’s next feed, plus, if your wife gets stressed and feels flustered when bubba is crying, entertaining visitors will be the last thing on her mind. “Defend” her from the crowds, and provide her with a quiet and secure environment to nurse.
In addition, well-meaning aunts, confinement nannies and other relatives may want to offer their two cents as to whether she is producing enough milk, and whether breastfeeding is the best thing for her. Don’t just leave her to fend off all the questions, gently and firmly remind them that while you know they are trying to help, their comments may be counterproductive.
4. Care for the older siblings
Older siblings can start to feel neglected now that mummy has to turn most of her attention on the littlest one. That’s where you dads come in ― explain to jie jie that it’s daddy-daughter time, and focus your attention fully on her. Take her out on a surprise ice-cream and movie date, and let her know that you’re there to talk, read her bedtime stories and give her hugs and cuddles. And when her newborn brother or sister is older, it will be an amazing time because they’ll get to do stuff together as a family!
5. Take over the chores
If you haven’t already started, get with it! Making sure that the house is clean, the clothes ironed and the dishes washed, should be the last thing on your wife’s mind at a time when she’s probably sleep deprived and exhausted. Doing your fair share ― and more ― of the chores will ease her burden, and she’ll definitely notice and appreciate it.
Sharon Tan, mum to Shane, 1, and Jessica, 4 ,says she was glad that her husband stepped up when her daughter arrived. “I was going through all this mummy guilt towards Jess, because I could hardly put Shane down in the first few months. My husband was incredible in making sure Jess still felt loved.”
6. Provide drinks and snacks
As breastfeeding burns lots of calorie, it can make a mum extremely hungry and thirsty. As such, nursing mums need to eat 300 to 500 calories more than usual. What husbands can do is to check with their wives if they need a snack, or pour her a glass of water every time she nurses. Some good ideas for snacks include a bowl of oatmeal, or dairy products like yoghurt and cheese ― these nutritious eats can also help her increase the breastmilk supply.
Making sure that the house is clean, the clothes ironed and the dishes washed, should be the last thing on your wife’s mind.
7. Take care of meals
One pressing chore on many a nursing mum’s mind is who is preparing the meals. If your wife usually preps the family meals for the, take that chore off her by learning to whip up a few dishes on your own, or ordering takeout.
If she’s doing her confinement but doesn’t have relatives or a confinement nanny, order from a confinement catering service.
8. Know the breast pump
Valves, tubes, funnels ― it can be quite complicated putting a breast pump together, and taking it all apart to wash! And yet, it’s something that needs to be done after every pumping session. Do the wife a favour and familiarize yourself with these parts. Ideally, you can help her to wash the pump, sterilise it, and put it together. This will take a load off her – plus, it’ll save her lots of time and stress each time she needs to use it.
9. Get up with her at night
We all know that one of the most challenging aspects of new parenthood is dealing with the sleep deprivation. If the mum is breastfeeding, it can get rather lonely to be the only one in the household awake with the baby at that time. Dads can help by doing the diaper changes, or even giving a bottle of expressed breastmilk, so that their wives can get a couple more hours of shut-eye.
Says Lincoln Lee, dad to Gareth, 3 months, “To be honest, I’m a light sleeper, so if Gareth cries, I will definitely wake up, too. Since I can’t feed him, I will let Marissa know that I’m up, and I can help with the diaper changes. I think it helps when she knows that she’s not alone during those difficult hours.”
10. Follow her lead when it comes to intimacy
After a long day of holding and nursing bubba, breastfeeding mums sometimes just need their space. Plus, the possibility of milk leaking (or spraying!) everywhere during sex, can be pretty much an intimacy killer. Also, one mum notes that “post-pregnancy weight gain also affected my self-esteem, and I didn’t want my husband touching me.”
By the way, since she’s nursing, your breastfeeding wife has lower amounts of oestrogen, which could mean less vaginal lubrication. This can cause discomfort during intercourse. So, be patient, you never know when the mood will strike. In the meantime, shower her with attention, give her lots of hugs and kisses, and tell how sexy she is.
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