Postpartum. Day 1 to 30.
The hormones are raging and she’s on the verge of slipping into those scarily depressing postnatal blues. A fragile little thing is rooting all the time and suckling at her breast round the clock.
She gets no rest.
Overactive let-down. Engorgement. Blocked ducts. Mastitis. These are the “good” problems if she has more than enough milk.
Poor latch. Nipple pain. Cranky, whiny baby. The problems when she doesn’t have enough.
The first 30 days postpartum, she’s likely to be thinking: How can I ever do this, this thing called breastfeeding?
Enter the valiant knight in shining armour. She calls him the husband. How he supports her during this trying period will be the key to her breastfeeding success.
Dads, you can be a support to a nursing mother (must be your wife, yes?!) in very practical ways. You can show her you are with her in this, besides saying, “I love you, honey, you can do it” so that she finds the strength to persevere in the days of breastfeeding madness.
Be a breastfeeding dad in FOUR simple ways:
1. Help with the little things
Sitting close to her while she’s nursing, putting your arms around her just so she knows she can count on you for support, giving her neck and shoulders a good rub, bringing her a glass of water or propping her tired legs up on a footstool are just some of the little acts of love you can do to show that you’re emotionally and mentally with her in this. You can also take over with a bottle feed once or twice a day, so she gets a break, and you get to bond with the baby. And do you know, by being around to massage the baby while she is nursing, you can stimulate the baby’s physical and mental development too?
So dads, jump in when you can. Pays great dividends in the long run.
2. Shoo fly, don’t bother me
Your wife doesn’t need an audience to tell her whether she can or cannot breastfeed. Sometimes, the older folks would come by with their well-meaning advice. And sometimes, you have to play the villain by telling the confinement lady and the aunty-mom folks to shut their nagging up. Most importantly, as a couple, whether you choose to breastfeed or bottlefeed, be at peace with your decision and shut your ears out to the world who may have a hundred and one things to say to you.
I’m very appreciative of the fact that my husband put his foot down and told everyone who had a comment to make (especially my first confinement lady, gawd’ she’s a nagger alright!) during my first few weeks of struggling that he’d appreciate it if they let us handle the challenge by ourselves (nicely, of course). Well meaning or not, it’s our baby, and we certainly don’t need the extra stress from anyone else.
3. Invest in a good breastpump
If you see her having trouble nursing during those first few weeks after giving birth, it pays to get a good electric breastpump for her. Especially if baby isn’t able to nurse enough for her to build up her milk supply. Selecting a good one will help keep her milk flowing and prevent plugged ducts or an infection.
I recommend getting one that is fully automatic, has adjustable suction levels to prevent nipple discomfort and is designed to mimic a baby’s sucking patterns, like the Philips AVENT single (or double) electric Comfort breastpump, which allows her to sit more comfortably with no need to lean forward, gently stimulates natural let down and milk flow, and lets her choose from 3 pumping settings to be at her most comfortable.
4. Send encouragement her way
Yes, I did say that little kind acts are better than “I love you, hun, you can do it” but it’s nice to hear some positive words from you once in a while. So please, please, go tell your wife, the mother of your child, that she’s still babe in your eyes and oh-so-sexy, cos’ well, it sure feels like crap to be nothing but a 24/7 milk machine and still looking five months preggers.
Most importantly, if you were to show the slightest sign of giving up too, you could be negatively affecting your exhausted postpartum wife to do her best for your baby. Sorry dude, in this mega project called ‘Breastfeeding Baby’, you’d have to be the stable one to encourage her to continue with the gig until everything is established.
I was very blessed to have a breastfeeding dad in the house who would be involved in every possible way so that I always have someone to count on for support, and not feel that I was in this all by myself.
He’s bought me breast shields (first in M size, then L, then XL – imagine his embarrassment when he kept returning to the store), read up and bought me my first breastpump (preloved, from a forum – imagine his embarrassment collecting it), asked female colleagues (who are mothers) how to help boost my milk supply (the Chinese will tell you soup, soup and more soup), made countless trips to the pharmacy to get fenugreek, nipple cream and lanolin ointment, and the market to get green papayas for soup every week during the confinement period.
This breastfeeding dad in our house also bought me a whole array of breastfeeding accessories ranging from the nursing pillow to the nursing poncho and all the different brands of breastpads, in addition to doing the four things mentioned above, three times in a row. Because of him, our three kids have had Mama’s elixir of milky goodness for almost 30 months put together.
Most fathers feel that breastfeeding is between mother and child. It doesn’t have to be so. It can involve you. Yes, dad, you. Together, as a family, you can conquer this and make postpartum days a lot easier to bear. And you don’t even need to wear fake boobs.
This story was brought to you by Philips AVENT. Philips AVENT is committed to helping parents give their babies the best start in life, with breastfeeding accessories that help along the way. Every Philips AVENT product is designed with mom and child in mind, and is intuitive, reponsive and easy to use. Their premium quality products support a mother’s choice to breastfeed, bottle feed or do both, by giving her the assurance that they are flexible and designed to support her and her baby.
To look out for more to come from Philips AVENT: www.philips.com.sg/