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Breastfeeding Myths

Dads Can Help, Too

Myth #1: Fathers can't help much if you're breastfeeding.

Fact: While it's true that only a mother can nurse her infant, direct help and encouragement from the baby's father can be a decisive factor in the success of breastfeeding. One of the best ways that fathers can help out is to appreciate their critical role as doula -- one who "mothers" the mother and empowers her to fulfill her unique breastfeeding role. A father's emotional support and encouragement is critical, especially during the early weeks after giving birth when a new mom is often weary and physically depleted.

Dad also can help create a relaxed feeding environment for mom -- pouring her a glass of water, bringing a nursing pillow, or giving her a backrub. His support can be invaluable during middle-of-the-night feedings, when he can minimize mom's loss of sleep by bringing the baby to her for nursing, changing the diaper, and settling the infant at the end of the feeding. Taking charge of household duties can also conserve mom's energy and keep her spirits up during the early weeks of frequent feedings.

Fathers soon discover many ways to form their own intimate bond with their baby, such as bathing, massaging, rocking, and playing with her. Once breastfeeding is well established (usually after three to four weeks), fathers can begin giving expressed breast milk by bottle when a nursing mother must be away. Dad also can take responsibility for washing the breast pump collection containers, as well as the baby's bottles and nipples.