It is common for the new generation men to prepare for their baby’s arrival right along with their partners by going to the antenatal appointments and attending antenatal classes. This is surely a great improvement on what happened in the seventies where birth and breastfeeding were regarded as “women’s things”. New dads want to be involved and experience the birth along with his partner. For this, we truly salute you.
Few dads, however, understand their importance in breastfeeding. In my research, I found that moms would give up breastfeeding without hesitation if the husband or spouse disapproves or appears to have no confidence in her abilities to sustain the newborn. I have found that you are the major role-player and your support will make or break the breastfeeding attempts.
- Remember the following:
- You are the main peanut. Your support is the deal-breaker; not the size of the breasts or the amount of milk they produce or the length of the nipples.
- Your involvement in everyday care demonstrates that you are willing to take up the responsibility of being there for your new family – perhaps you did not have that luxury yourself.
- Spend time holding them both – your spouse needs physical touch as much as you do.
- Shower them both with tenderness and caring – after all, it is the start of a new generation which will hopefully be better than the one you had.
- You may not experience positive feelings in those first days. If it happens and if you start blaming the breastfeeding or the baby because of any feelings of animosity, it is time to seek professional assistance.
- Negative thoughts do creep in – but those are the ones that spoil relationships.
- Perhaps you feel left out; or sad of what you seem to have lost. Perhaps you feel jealous of the baby? In my research, 6% [of 387] of new dads experienced breastfeeding negatively and resented the time the mom spent with the baby. They felt neglected and under-valued. So, you are not the exception to the rule.
- Be honest with your partner. Talk things over and let her know what you are experiencing. Even if your wife stops breastfeeding [which you might blame for the discontent]; the negative feelings become more powerful if you do not voice them.
- Yes, she will be shocked, and at first, may initially refuse to talk about it – but if you really want to give your baby the best chances in life, you need to preserve her family.
- Sometimes problems run deeper – perhaps marriage counselling is just what is needed for this new family. After all, the baby needs both his parents in his life. It may help you to finally get on track again.