Many new mothers know that breastfeeding their babies is the best way to give them a healthy start to life. The good thing is that most fathers know this too! Indeed, the benefits of breastmilk abound.
Breastmilk is the perfect food for babies as it provides them with all the nourishment they need for their first six months of life. Because of the antibodies in it, breastmilk increases a child’s ability to fight off infection. This means that a breastfed baby has fewer trips to the doctor because of their strengthened immune system.
Less medical bills also means the family is able to save and channel their finances to other investments. In addition, the skin-skin touch during breastfeeding between mother and baby enhances the lifelong bond between them.
The World Health Organisation recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life — meaning they take breastmilk only during this time. To achieve this goal, a mother needs support from the people around her and one of the most important people who can support her is the baby’s father.
Interestingly, breastfeeding does not come easy for most new mothers, and many need to be taught how to go about it. If her baby does not latch properly, then she may experience problems such as cracked, bleeding nipples which can cause her unbearable pain and discourage her from going on.
Also, when baby does not latch properly, it means he is not feeding well and this may cause him to become dehydrated. Her husband can assist in ensuring that she leaves the hospital having been taught how to place baby on the breast for a proper latch. He can be present as she is taught how to do so for purposes of assisting her after their return home in case she experiences latching difficulties.
Being a new mom can also take a toll on even the strongest of women. The fatigue of the nine-month pregnancy coupled with sleepless nights, changing diapers, rocking the baby to sleep, hosting visitors during the day, nursing a wound if she delivered via caesarean section, bathing baby and other such tasks can be quite challenging. When a nursing mother is stressed, it can affect her ability to produce sufficient milk for her baby.
Her partner can help by undertaking some of these chores, such as changing diapers, bathing baby or taking him out for walks to get some sunshine.
When the baby wakes up at night, the father can pick him up from his crib and bring him over to his mother for nursing. After the breastfeeding session, the father can take him again, burp him and then rock him back to sleep. This allows the mother to rest before the baby’s next feed.
Due to the dietary needs of a breastfeeding mother, her husband can ensure that her food is well balanced by doing grocery shopping and buying all the foods and supplements she requires. In between night feeds, he can offer his wife a glass of water, prepare her a cup of hot chocolate or warm some porridge for her.
More importantly, he should support her emotionally and offer her words of comfort on the days she feels overwhelmed. If left unchecked, the rigours of being a new mom could lead to post-partum depression. He should ensure her environment is stress-free and he should never stop showing her genuine love, concern and care.
When her husband is supportive, a new mother is able to breastfeed for longer thus giving her baby a healthy start to life. Men should remember that babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first six months have stronger immunity, meaning less hospital visits in the future and less financial costs for the family. They should know that investing in breastfeeding is investing in their child’s healthy future.
The writer is an award-winning motherhood blogger. Follow her on mummytales.com