Breastfeeding: What dad can do
A new dad might think that his role in breastfeeding is a minor one. Not so! Studies show that the attitude of the baby's father is the most important factor in whether or not a mother begins and continues to breastfeed.
Dad's instinct is to protect his new family. One way you can do that is by supporting your partner's decision to breastfeed. You can read books about breastfeeding or attend classes on breastfeeding with your partner. You can also help by discouraging others from criticizing your partner's decision to breastfeed, especially in the early weeks.
Dads teach their babies that there is more to love than food, and that there is a world outside of Mommy. Forging your own relationship with your baby will enrich both your lives--and Mom's, too.
Find your own way to have fun with the baby. Take charge of baths, or walk baby around in a soft carrier, or be the one to introduce squeaky toys and rattles. And remember, new babies love to nap on Dad's warm chest.
Last reviewed December 2013
Frequently Asked Questions
Dad: Can you smoke in the house after bringing your baby home?
No. Secondhand smoke isn't good for your baby. Children, especially babies, exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), ear infections, colds, pneumonia, bronchitis, severe asthma, headaches, sore throats, dizziness, nausea, lack of energy and fussiness. You can protect your baby from all these things by keeping the cigarettes out of the house! Remember everything you did during pregnancy to help keep your partner and your baby healthy? Keep doing them now that your baby's here! If you or your partner smoke, quit. If you need help to quit, tell your health care provider.
My partner cries a lot since she had the baby. Why?
There are lots of changes happening in your partner after pregnancy. Her body has taken care of your baby for 9 months. It has to get used to not being pregnant any more. There are lots of hormones in her body after pregnancy. These hormones can cause the baby blues, which are feelings of sadness a woman may have 3 to 5 days after giving birth. Your partner may be cranky and she may cry a lot. This happens to lots of women. By about 10 days after the baby's birth, the baby blues should go away. If they don't, tell her health care provider. If she’s really sad for longer than 2 weeks, she may have postpartum depression. This is a more serious problem that requires medical treatment.
My partner is breastfeeding. What can I do to help?
Support her decision to breastfeed. It's not always easy, and she may need some encouragement along the way. Help her during feedings. Bring the baby to her and help them get comfortable. If your partner uses a certain pillow or sits in a certain place to breastfeed, make sure they’re clean and ready for her to use. If you're using stored breast milk, learn how to warm it so it's just the right temperature for your baby. Learn as much as you can about breastfeeding. Read books, watch videos, find information on the Internet, and ask other dads what they did to help. Breast milk is the best food for your baby. Doing what you can to support your partner in breastfeeding helps give your baby a healthy start in life.