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Breastfeeding and fathers/co-parents

As the father/co-parent, you can do everything with your baby that the mother can—except breastfeed. Nonetheless, you and baby need to have time to bond, and baby’s mother could use a break.

Studies have shown that the father’s/co-parent’s presence during the first hours at the maternity ward/birth center provides a form of support that helps mothers to start breastfeeding.

The father’s/co-parent’s attitude to and knowledge about breastfeeding plays a huge part in the mother’s perception. Research shows that the more positive the father/co-parent is, the longer the mother breastfeeds.

We want to address some of the most important areas that you as father/co-parent should know and think about:

Bonding A good way to bond is to let baby lie skin-to-skin on your stomach. This means that your infant lies skin-to-skin on your stomach, like a tiny frog, wearing only a diaper. Because it’s vital you make sure that your infant’s airways and nose are free so baby can breathe, you must stay awake when you hold your baby skin-to-skin.

Other options include learning about infant massage, taking care of bath time or changing diapers. The only thing you cannot do is breastfeed. The two of you can share everything else that involves taking care of your baby. You are both important for your baby’s wellbeing and most often, it’s a question of helping yourself.

Feeling left out Mothers can feel alone in terms of nursing, and partners can feel left out. It’s important to communicate with each other to avoid misunderstandings. Try to express your thoughts and emotions. Tell each other what you’re thinking and feeling. Spend time together with your newborn and get to know him or her. But remember to spend time alone with your baby as well. A parent’s / partner’s heart is wide open to their baby and it often takes time to feel confident as parents. Do what you feel is best for your little one.

Relationships Relationships typically benefit when both parents are involved and share responsibility for the baby. Try to take extra good care of each other. Mother might need extra support with breastfeeding and getting time away, while the father/co-parent might need more time together with baby. Both need me-time. Just as long as you both know what your family needs. Now that another person has joined your family, you have to take more needs into account. You can generally find good solutions if you discuss the matter openly and pay attention to each other’s needs.

Some tips:

  • Continue to cuddle if both want to.
  • Take turns sleeping and helping each other find me-time.
  • Remember that the period of having a newborn is a truly short period in your lives.