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Fatherhood and Breastfeeding

Fatherhood and Breastfeeding

Bringing a new baby home can be an exciting, yet challenging time for everyone in the house! Fathers are also at risk for postpartum depression, called paternal postpartum depression (PPD). One of the factors associated with PPD is difficulty bonding with the new baby. While breastfeeding is often a great source of bonding for moms and their babies, it may result in some fathers feeling excluded and helpless, possibly contributing to PPD or bonding struggles. Additionally, new fathers may have concerns about decreased intimacy or overall relationship changes with their partner because of breastfeeding. Below are some suggestions for how fathers can create a bond with their baby and continue to feel connected and on the same team as their breastfeeding partner.


Bonding with Baby

Newborn babies are totally dependent on their parents for everything, not just feeding! So, there are lots of opportunities to care for and connect with your baby:

  • Changing diapers
  • Burping after feeding
  • Bathing
  • Putting the baby to bed
  • Singing or playing with the baby


Preparing for Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is a new skill, and there are steps you and your partner can take to help you both be better prepared once the baby is born.

  • Learn the breastfeeding basics – the more you know, the more you can support your partner!
  • Work with your partner to create a birth plan and set breastfeeding goals
  • Join a WIC breastfeeding class with your partner
    • Basic information about breastfeeding
    • Tips for a healthy supply of breast milk for your baby
    • Support when you have breastfeeding concerns
    • Tips on how to breastfeed comfortably and discreetly


Breastfeeding Takes Teamwork

Recognizing that you and your partner are working together to take care of your new baby is an important step in staying connected through the challenges of the early days of parenthood. If your partner is breastfeeding, you can provide support by:

  • Caring for any older children while the baby eats
  • Taking over cooking, laundry, any extra errands
  • Recognizing infant signs or cues of hunger
    • Signs your baby is hungry
      • Fists moving to mouth
      • Head turning to look for the breast
      • Becoming more alert and active
      • Opening and closing mouth
      • Sucking on hands or lip smacking
    • Signs your baby is full
      • Baby releases or “falls off” the breast
      • Baby turns away from the nipple
      • Baby relaxes their body and opens their fists
    • Providing emotional support such as encouragement and affection
    • Ensuring comfortable positioning of mom and baby
    • Recognizing signs that the baby is receiving enough breast milk, adequate weight gain, and wet

In the end, babies thrive when they are surrounded by loving caregivers. Mom or dad, breastfeeding or not, there are many ways to bond with and show love to your new baby.


Writer: Carly Goodroe 

Reviewer: Sheila LaFortune 



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