Breastfeeding – a father’s perspective

breastfeed_icon.pngBreastfeeding is widely considered to be the best start for baby, not only providing nutrient-packed food but also forming a bond between mother and child. In this interesting article, Stuart Hutchings shares a father’s perspective.

Breastfeeding is the most natural thing to do. It is one of the most important things that you can do to give your child the very best start in life and it is likely to be the first most important decision a mother and family will make about their baby’s health and upbringing.

We may all possibly be aware of the major benefits to mother and baby that breastfeeding confers.

But it does take commitment from both mother and family.

Possibly one of the biggest issues is that breastfed babies often spend more time ‘at the breast’ than formula fed children do whilst being fed; this is purely because bottle-feeding is functional (the activity only provides food). Breastfeeding however provides food and nurturing. It is common for the baby to snuggle up to mother and fall asleep whilst feeding in this comfortable, secure environment (this intimacy leads to bonding which is a very important aspect of breastfeeding). For this reason I personally thought for the first six months that our new baby did not have a face! I only ever saw the back of his head! This leads on to more practical matters such as making sure mother and baby are comfortable for these periods and as happy and secure as you can make them both. Although this can mean a lot of ‘nurse-maiding’ it is wise for dads to remember that they are part of a team giving baby the best food, on tap, when he or she needs it. It comes out of the breast ‘ready to serve’ and is tailored to the baby’s age and nutritional needs. There are also no bottles to worry about, no formulas to mix, you don’t have to worry about sterilising everything, getting the temperature right, and, baby’s poo even smells better!!

Breastfeeding is not just the best source of food but also a good source of comfort and security. Mother’s bonding with her child can start here, if it has not already happened during pregnancy; breastfeeding is the most natural way of bonding. The eye-to-eye and skin-to-skin contact that breastfeeding requires strengthens the attachment and bonding between mother and child. Breastfeeding helps mother to get to know and understand her baby. It is an important step in building a trusting relationship that extends well beyond baby years; it is not just the best source of food for a growing baby but the ultimate in terms of safety and security. There are some emotional adjustments to be made. Family members may become jealous of the intimacy and attachments that occur between mother and baby through breastfeeding. From a father’s perspective, one sometimes has to wrestle with one’s feelings for baby, as this new-comer muscles in on what was your sole territory. But this time is very important for mother and baby, and it is often easy to forget that a family’s job is to care for and support mother as well as baby. The help required from family members is very important but the most important is the care and support from dad. He can provide physical and emotional reassurance, he can head off discouragement and negative criticisms from other family members, and he can make mother comfortable whilst breastfeeding with such simple things as providing food and drinks, or even helping with the household chores or with other siblings.

Sleeping can also be an awkward time. If you do not want to sleep with baby in the bed, the cot should be placed in close proximity so that mother can virtually ‘do it in her sleep’. But here breastfeeding can be a major benefit to other family members because they may not be woken in the middle of the night. Mother simply attaches the baby and satisfaction is guaranteed!

There are other lifestyle modifications that are required for breastfeeding:

  • Having the right clothing to allow easy access for baby
  • Being willing to stop your routine for unplanned feeds
  • Continuing with a cessation of drinking and smoking
  • Watching what drugs or medications are taken

There are many other reasons that breastfeeding should be the first choice food for babies.

Just remember breastfeeding can be good for baby, mother and family – breast milk is perfectly formulated to meet your baby’s nutritional needs and…

It’s what breasts were designed for!

Breast really is best.

For more extensive information on breastfeeding its benefits and practical implications visit breastfeeding at From Little Acorns Academy

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