Breast feeding isn’t easy. Prior to the birth of our baby, we hadn’t really considered much more than the impending doom of labour – we assumed (naively) that we would just work the rest out as we went along. I think we were so transfixed on the birth that we didn’t really delve into the “truth” of life post-partum…breast feeding is a big part of that life. Like, a big part. As you can see by the pure excitement on his face, our baby loves the milch.
Everybody has their own opinions and ideas about bottle feeding vs breast feeding. Traditionally the message of “breast is best” has been sung from the mountain tops, but as science and formula based milk has progressed, it is argued that there is very little that divides the two sources of feeding. What you do comes down to what is best for your family; we personally opted for exclusive breast feeding for our baby boy.
The message we were broadcasted (in no uncertain terms) from NCT was, “breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt…ever.” I (as I’m sure some of you reading will agree) now know this is utter rubbish. Eddison is a month old now and my conclusion of the aforementioned advice is that in truth, breast feeding is hard. It’s not as simple as the diagrams and mannequin baby make it seem. Lis has persevered through pretty much every complication you can get with breast feeding. It hasn’t been pretty.
Now, I’m not saying all this to scare anybody…in fact I’m trying to do the opposite. Should breast feeding hurt? No, not once you and the baby are established. BUT getting established can be a real challenge and that’s something a lot of people don’t talk about. Mastitus, sore nipples, thrush among other things put hurdles in the way and even from an observer’s point of view aren’t pleasant.
As a dad, you are left pretty powerless with the exclusive breast feeding route to begin with – especially whilst the baby establishes their feeding methods and habits. It’s such an important time for bonding between mother and baby and as a dad, you need to be there to support your partner. If mum is having a hard time, here are a few ways you can help:
-Expressing milk – with a store of breast milk, it is possible for the dad to take over and do a feed or two a day to give mum a rest. An electric pump is a good idea if you’re expressing a lot, but if you’re happy to do it by hand, that’s possible too. Our Medela Swing pump has been a life saver. It allows me to feed Eddison while Lis catches up on some sleep or rests her boobs.
– Creams – there are tonnes of creams available – go for something with a high concentration of lanoline. Get your partner something to soothe between feeds. Again Medela do a great cream that doesn’t need washing off beore the baby feeds.
-Nipple compresses – Hands down one of the best things Lis used were nipple compresses that we kept in the fridge. Well worth it.
-Remind them that they are doing a great job. Sounds daft really, but a bit of moral support goes a long way at 3.42am…don’t expect a positive response, but it will help.
-Get them some help and advice from other women. People have done this for years…encourage your partner to talk and listen to others. There are loads of people but some of the most helpful have been
Breast feeding is one of the most natural things ever, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Guys, make sure you (try) to help out!