Monday, June 9, 2014

What Can Daddies Do?

In today's post (in honor of Father's Day coming up) I wanted to talk about daddies and their role in breastfeeding. As I was flipping through my copy of "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding" I found the absolutely perfect excerpt.

I am so incredibly blessed to have a husband who is absolutely and completely supportive of breastfeeding, and even when I was having some issues with our second baby, he's the one who popped online and did some research to help me come up with a solution. He was AWESOME - and I'm completely confident that he will be awesome with our upcoming arrival as well :).

So, check out what La Leche League has to say about Fathers and what they can do during the breastfeeding stage of baby-raising ;):

Though mother is the only one who can nurse the baby, there are a number of things that no one else can do quite as well as a loving father. Have you ever watched a mother try to soothe a fussy baby by nursing and rocking and patting, and just about everything else she can think of, and then watched in amazement as the baby's father lifts the little one out of her arms, hoists him onto his shoulder, and promptly puts the baby to sleep! It is a trade secret known only to fathers; we don't know if it's the broad shoulders, the large, strong hands, or the deep baritone voice that does the trick. But no matter - we know that it works, and clever nursing mothers are the first to take advantage of it.

Babies are often their fussiest late in the day, mother is tired after a full day of baby care, and perhaps there is the added pressure of hungry children awaiting dinner. When dad arrives home, even though he may have had a hard day at work, he can often approach the baby in a more relaxed way than mother can at that point. Many fathers take advantage of this to establish their own special relationship with their babies.

First Baby Snuggles (she would never do this for me - only my handsome hubby!)
In Becoming A Father, Dr Sears describes a special form of baby-soothing that only works for dads - he calls it "the neck nestle." Dad puts baby in a sling of baby carrier on his chest and lifts him up a bit so baby's head nestles under dad's chin. Dr Sears explains:
In the neck nestle, father has a slight edge over mother. Babies hear not only through their ears, but also through the vibration of the skull bones. By placing baby's skull against your voice box in the front of your neck and humming or singing to your baby, the slower, more easily felt vibrations of the lower-pitched male voice will often lull baby right to sleep. An added attraction of the neck nestle is that baby feels the warm air from your nose on his scalp. Experienced mothers have long known that sometimes just breathing onto their babies' faces or heads will calm them. They call this "magic breath." My children have enjoyed the neck nestle more than any of the other holding positions.
What do fathers most enjoy doing with their babies? There are probably almost as many answers as there are fathers, but over the years we have observed that fathers seem to have a special gift for playing with even very young babies. While mother is often preoccupied with cuddling and feeding, father is likely to tickle baby under his chin, hoist him into the air, or bounce him on his knee. A caution may be needed about shaking a baby as this can be harmful, but movement and exercise are important to the baby's overall development. Babies thrive when provided with both gentle nurturing and lively activity. As Louise Kaplan, PhD, explains in her book Oneness and Separateness, "Fathers have a special excitement about them that babies find intriguing...Fathers embody a delicious mixture of familiarity and novelty."

Fathers need to spend time with their babies in order to get to know them better and get "tuned in" to their needs. Watch for cues that baby is ready for some fathering interaction. A hungry baby won't be interested in playing. But once baby has nursed his fill, dad can take over the burping, diaper-changing, singing, rocking, and cuddling. Some fathers enjoy bathing the baby - or bathing with the baby, soaking together in a warm tub. A gentle massage can be another form of interaction between father and infant and don't overlook the sling or baby carrier. It's not just for mothers.

Learning about the usual stages of a baby's development in the first year can help a father enjoy his baby more. It's important for him to know when his son or daughter is ready to play peek-a-boo, when to expect reaching and grasping, and when to encourage crawling and climbing. A father can play an important role in these stages of development and proudly watch his child's growth and advancement. Another book by Dr William Sears, Growing Together: A Parent's Guide to Baby's First Year, explains baby's stages of growth and development. 

~Excerpt taken from The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League

So, keep it up dads! You are doing great, and there are many many ways to bond and interact with your precious baby even though you aren't the one doing the feeding!

To learn more and get breastfeeding support from local moms who have "been there-done that", come on down and meet with us on Thursday evening at 6:30 at Educated Mommy. Also, don't forget about our weekly support group Milk Monologues that meets every Wednesday at 1:00 pm!

Happy Father's Day on Sunday!


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