The realm of lactation and breastfeeding is often restricted to mothers and their babies. It makes sense, since mothers are the ones who actually produce the milk to feed their babies. Unfortunately for everyone involved, the role fathers can play in the breastfeeding relationship is often overlooked. Believe it or not, there are so many vital ways dads can (and should) help with pumping, breastfeeding, and feeding the baby in general.
Dad, don't sit back while your partner pumps and think that she's got everything under control (even though she probably looks completely flawless and poised sitting there hooked up to a breast pump.) There are so many simple ways you can help out that take almost no time at all and will make all of the difference for her.
It's virtually impossible to multitask while hooked up to a breast pump, and for many moms, it requires extra concentration just to be able to get things flowing. Having a partner that is willing to step in and help can mean the difference between a successful pumping session and a frustrating one.
Don't feel like you don't have a part to play in the whole "breastfeeding dynamic," because the truth is, that without your support, things would be a lot more complicated. Here are just a few way dads can offer help when it's time to pump.
1He Can Watch The Baby
One of the easiest (and most helpful) things a dad can do while mama pumps is to simply watch the baby. Pumping often requires both hands, and more or less confines you to the same spot for at least 15 minutes. Having a partner who is willing to keep the little one distracted for the short time she's pumping will ensure that her pumping session is as effective and non-stressful as possible.
2He Can Take Over A Feeding Session Or Two
Oftentimes the whole point of pumping is to free up other people to feed baby too. Although you may not be able to feed the baby while she pumps, you can offer to take over the next feeding so she can rest — or better yet, offer to handle the night feedings.
3He Can Find Comfortable Pumping Spots When You're On The Go
I remember when my husband and I took a vacation sans baby for the first time. I was still nursing every few hours, so I needed to take "pumping breaks" just as often to keep up my supply. One of the most helpful things my husband did for me that entire trip was sit beside me when I had to pump on the bus or plane or help me find more private areas when I didn't want to pump in public.
4He Can Listen To Her Frustrations
La Leche League International noted that the support of a partner is one of the most encouraging things for a new mom struggling with breastfeeding or pumping woes. Just listen to her frustrations, without judgement or even advice, and encourage her to keep trying.
5He Can Wash The Pump Or Handle The Milk
Aside from emotional support, offering practical help can work wonders too. Offer to wash the pump parts or bottles once she's finished, or to throw the pumped milk in the fridge or freezer to be used later.
6He Can Bring Her Some Water
Breastfeeding moms are always thirsty. There are even studies to back up the correlation between oxytocin release, suckling, and immediate thirst. So just bring her a darn glass of water without her even asking for it. It will be like you read her mind.
7He Can Bring Her Phone Too
Pumping can be a boring business, so soothe her by offering her some one-on-one time with her social media, or maybe even by turning on her favorite Nexflix show. A few snacks wouldn't hurt either.