Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Teandra Knapp, Maricopa County, Gilbert, Arizona, USA
Photos: Janae Marie & Mira Beya
Our precious son was delivered via cesarean, after which my husband went with him as he was bathed and weighed, while I stayed in the recovery room. I remember staring at the clock when all I could think about was wanting to be with my baby. The clock’s ticking filled my mind while time itself seemed to be standing still.
An hour later, I was wheeled into an adjacent room where I was reunited with my husband and our new baby boy. As soon as the bed stopped moving, my husband hurried over and gave me our son. Without any hesitation, our baby immediately turned toward my breast and started to move his mouth in a sucking motion. My husband described how our little man had been doing this the entire time I had been in recovery. And he urged me on, “Feed the baby, momma. He is hungry.”
I quickly brought my little bundle of joy to the breast and he began to nurse. Barely an hour old, instinctively he knew how to nurse.
Support is crucial.
This was our seventh child yet we wouldn’t call ourselves experts by any stretch of the imagination; though we did have some serious repetitions under our belt. We wanted our baby on my breast as soon after birth as possible. During the c-section, one of the nurses mentioned separating me from my baby for several hours to allow me to rest. One nurse mentioned feeding the baby sugar water until I felt up to nursing. In unison, my husband and I said, “No!” We wanted no bottle-feeding of any kind. “This baby is breastfeeding.”
Without the proactive support of my husband I don’t think I would have succeeded. He, however, will tell you otherwise. He will say, “You were made to breastfeed.” One thing is for sure, we make a great team. Regularly, about every two hours for the first couple weeks, dad would change our son’s diaper and then help position the little guy on me to feed. He always made sure I had a cold beverage to drink while breastfeeding and he was great at providing a healthy snack or light meal as well. He would get up with me during the nightly feedings to help me get comfortable and again bring a drink to keep me hydrated.
Comfort is a necessity for longevity in breastfeeding. A pillow helped in the early days, but I was able to breastfeed virtually anywhere comfortably, and I had a nursing cover for using while walking around.
I cannot stress enough how important my husband’s role was. A partner’s support is key to mom and baby’s breastfeeding success. A dad instinctively wants to encourage and help, but maybe sometimes he just doesn’t know how. From a mother who breastfed four of her children, these are my tips for dad.
- It’s your responsibility to help make sure your baby gets breastfed sooner rather than later. A bath can wait. Help mom feed the baby.
- No bottles from the all too eager nurse or grandma who wants to rock your bundle of joy. Help mom feed the baby.
- If mom has had a c-section, request that she try to breastfeed in the recovery room, why not? Help mom feed the baby.
- Change your baby’s diaper before the feeding and help position the baby on mom for the feeding. Help mom feed the baby.
- Get a cold drink ready for mom, juice is good. Also a snack or meal. Ask her what she would like. Help mom feed the baby.
- Give mom time to take a quick shower. Help mom feed the baby.
- Rub her neck or feet, while she feeds the baby.
- Encourage her to continue breastfeeding. Thank her for feeding your baby while she is feeding him.
- Give the baby a bath, now ask mom to feed the baby.
- Tell her she is beautiful! And ask mom to feed the baby!
I hope you understand, dad, the central role you play as partner and daddy. Don’t give up, keep encouraging mom every chance you get. If something isn’t working, then change it, adapting to whatever works for you and your baby.
Remember two pairs of hands are always better than one. Help is always needed.
Set small goals, for example, when you reach the six-week mark of breastfeeding, reward yourselves. Perhaps go out to a restaurant for dinner. Continue to set reachable goals that together you can continue to strive to meet.
Lastly, dad, don’t forget to ask mom to feed the baby.