For a new mother with her newborn baby, it may seem like everything is riding on her when it comes to breastfeeding & nourishing the new bundle-of-joy. In the first 1-2 months of life it is very normal, and actually expected & preferred, for the infant to be eating every 1-2 hours. In the first 2-3 days of life an infant’s stomach is only the size of a marble. Day by day, even though the stomach’s capacity will continue to grow and feeding times may spread out to every 2-3 hours. The breastfeeding mother will still have her hands (and breasts) full breastfeeding around the clock. What can Dad do to help mother & baby have a successful & less-stress breastfeeding experience?
• Be very supportive & encouraging. Breastfeeding is not easy or else everyone would do it. It takes time, commitment, determination, and selflessness to be an exclusively breastfeeding mother.
• Say words of encouragement hourly. “You are my Queen”, “Your beauty & power is beyond words”, “You are a natural born breastfeeder”, “You can do it, you’re much more talented than I’ll ever be”, and “Love of my life, you’re shrinking back to your pre-pregnancy size so quickly! Must be the breastfeeding!”
• Give foot and back massages throughout the day. This stimulation can also increase milk supply while inducing relaxation and hormones needed for milk production & flow.
• Make sure mother is eating a healthy diet. As a breastfeeding mommy you need around 500kcal extra per day while breastfeeding. These extra calories should not come from sweets and processed junk food. They should come from heart healthy foods & galactagogues (Which is a food, herb , mineral, or medication taken to increase milk production. More to come about these specific foods soon!). Such as chicken soup, Barley, dried fruit, nuts, avocado, oatmeal, greens, soups, etc.
• Help with laundry, dishes, cleaning the house.
• Take baby to mother if you notice baby’s hunger ques such as turning head to look for breast or making suckling noises.
• And most important…DO NOT give supplemental bottles or pacifiers in the first 1-2 months of life. This is where mother’s milk supply is becoming established & any supplementation will cause the breast to think it does not need to make that “extra” amount. Offering bottles & pacifiers can cause nipple confusion which can lead to baby refusing mother’s soft nipple. Breast milk does not come in until the 3-4th day. Her body biologically knows what it is doing! Offer only the breast! – More to come on the first few days of life & what you can expect your breast to be doing!
Reference: Jacobson, Hilary. Mother Food. Rosalind Press, 2004.