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Father’s Role in Breastfeeding

Updated: Feb 25

Breastfeeding is a time-intensive process, and women can require assistance to begin and sustain ideal breastfeeding practices. Particularly, the child's father is the most critical support system. Mothers who have the support of their partners can maintain sustained breastfeeding for their babies, increasing the chances of providing optimal nutrition for their child.

Studies have indicated (1) that the stronger the father’s support, the longer the duration of exclusive breastfeeding. Mothers' absenteeism from work was lower, retention rates were higher, stress on male spouses was lower, and expenditures related to child health problems were lower while fathers were continuously supportive.

How can fathers participate in breastfeeding?

  • Get prepared: Start reading up on breastfeeding and learn everything you can about it. Learn about the benefits of breastfeeding for your child, your spouse, and your entire family. You will be able to support your wife more if you know more about the process.

  • Be encouraging: Having you by her side would give her the trust she needs to start breastfeeding confidently and continue even when things get tough.

  • Be caring and loving: When it is time to breastfeed, hand the baby over to your partner. Grab the nursing pillow and assist them in finding a suitable spot.

How can fathers help their wives otherwise?

Fathers can help with a variety of activities, including household chores, looking after older children, monitoring their wife's diet, rest, and sleep, and helping in the care of the newborn baby. A study conducted in Pakistan found that nine out of 12 fathers reported (2) that they considered their role to be important and crucial for their wives to initiate and maintain breastfeeding. Parenting is a two-way street that requires both parties to take active roles in the day to day matter.

How can breastfeeding benefit fathers?

Did you know that there are ways breastfeeding can benefit you as well? Some of the benefits of breastfeeding for fathers include the following:

  • Breastfeeding is cost-effective: You will not have to spend thousands of dollars on baby formula, diapers, nipples, or bottle liners if your wife wishes to breastfeed.

  • Going out is easier: Breastfeeding requires much less packing and preparation before leaving the house.

  • Feedings at night are simple: You won’t have to get up in the middle of the night to prepare bottles. You might not even have to get up at all!

  • Convenience and ease: In a study done in the UK (3), fathers described their experience of their baby being breastfed as difficult at first - but, once a system was established, felt like an easy and convenient option. Fathers did not have to worry about preparing bottles or running out of milk.

How to create a connection with your breastfed baby

Taking care of a baby requires much more than just feeding. There are other ways to look after and bond with your child. The longer you stay with your baby, the more confident you will feel in your parenting abilities. Here are some ideas about how fathers can interact with their breastfed children:

  • Holding: Pick up your child and interact with them while they are awake and alert.

  • Skin-to-Skin Connection: Direct skin-to-skin contact (kangaroo care) fosters a strong bond.

  • Daily Infant Care: You can try to get the baby to burp after each feeding and organize bath time, which can be fun for both father and child.

  • Having A Good Time: Spending time playing with your child is beneficial to both of you. When your child is a newborn or baby, you can do some tummy time, shake a rattle, play peek-a-boo, sing a tune, or make some funny faces and noises by getting down on the floor.

Paternity leave

Paternity leave is important to fathers who are more involved in parenting and childcare. Providing fathers with the opportunity to take time off work in the months following the birth of their children increases mothers' postpartum and mental well-being.

According to a study conducted in Indonesia (4), it was concluded that a father-specific policy is crucial to have, focused on regulating leave rights for male workers to support their wives giving exclusive breastfeeding. The policy also has the potential to improve child health, since the more the fathers are involved, the more successful exclusive breastfeeding will be.

A word from the Mommy Zone Team

Remember that caring for your child entails more than just feeding.

Working together and maintaining open lines of communication will not only help you and your wife enjoy bringing a new child into your lives, but will also help you grow closer as a couple and as a family.

Most new mothers and fathers agreed that sharing their childbirth experiences and supporting each other in infant feeding procedures was the best outcome. Fathers' practical and emotional support is an important component of effective breastfeeding, as it boosts the mother's morale and allows her to maintain a sufficient milk supply.

From the Mommy Zone team, we are always here for you.