As a first time dad, I had the wonderful privilege of witnessing my wife Daniela’s incredible journey through motherhood, particularly her experience with breastfeeding. While most fathers might not initially see their role in this aspect of parenting, my journey alongside Daniela opened my eyes to the importance of being an active partner in the breastfeeding process. Our experience not only strengthened our bond as parents but also distilled valuable lessons that continue to shape our approach to raising our three children.
Five years ago, when Daniela became pregnant with our first child, I already knew that she would be an extraordinary mother. Her nurturing nature and boundless love were evident to all. At that time, I anticipated being an involved father, but I mistakenly believed that my role with breastfeeding would be minimal. Little did I know that this assumption would be proven wrong and that actively supporting her during this journey would become a significant part of our parenting adventure.
When Daniela began breastfeeding our daughter, I was initially taken back by the pain and difficulties she encountered. Much like other fathers, I felt somewhat helpless at first. But then I realized, I was involved in every other aspect of our daughter’s life, so why should feeding her be any different?
Here are some of the ways I was able to help support my wife during her breastfeeding journey:
Be an emotional support person
Breastfeeding can be emotionally taxing, and your partner may experience moments of self-doubt, frustration or even exhaustion. As a father, being a constant source of emotional support is crucial. Offer words of encouragement, praise her for her efforts and mostly listen—listen to her concerns and be empathetic to her feelings, as this can provide tremendous comfort.
One of the most significant ways to support your partner during breastfeeding is by educating yourself about the process. Learn about the benefits of breastfeeding, common challenges that mothers face and how you can assist in overcoming them. For example, assisting with the latching process is one of the most immediate and practical ways you can help. Ensure that your partner and the baby are in a comfortable position, and gently assist with getting a good latch. Being well-informed enables you to be a better partner, as you can anticipate your partner’s needs and provide valuable insights and solutions when issues come up.
Take on the prep and post-feeding duties
Beyond the actual act of breastfeeding, there are prep and post-feeding tasks that you can handle. After feedings, help with burping the baby and changing their diaper. These responsibilities give your partner a much-needed break and allow her to rest, especially during nighttime feedings. Additionally, ensuring that her water bottle is always filled is a simple, but important task to ensure your partner stays hydrated.
Take on household chores and responsibilities
Breastfeeding is physically demanding, and it can be challenging for your partner to keep up with household chores. On average, one year of breastfeeding equates to roughly 1,800 hours. To put this into perspective, on average, a full time job with holidays comes out to be about 1,960 hours—nearly the same amount of time as a full time job! By taking on additional responsibilities like cooking, cleaning and grocery shopping, you can help alleviate some of the stress and workload that breastfeeding mothers often face. Maintaining a clean and organized home creates a more comfortable environment for both your partner and the baby.
Today, my wife and I openly discuss breastfeeding and the challenges we faced—we even co-founded a breastfeeding supplement company, SOLMA. I believe that the more fathers are normalized as active participants in the breastfeeding process, the better the outcomes will be for our partners and, ultimately, our children. It is my hope that, by sharing our story, more fathers will be inspired to become an integral part of the breastfeeding journey, leading to happier, healthier families.