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New Dad's Guide to Supporting Breastfeeding
Studies show that breastfeeding is the best way to feed a baby, giving a baby a stronger immune system. Breast milk has the ideal blend of nutrients that you cannot get in a formula. Children who are breastfed have lower chances of developing food allergies, respiratory illnesses, or obesity than their formula-fed peers.
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Additionally, breastfeeding can be easier than feeding by formula in some ways. For instance, there is no preparation, heating of formula, or bottles and dishes to wash. Formula is expensive and breastfeeding is a more cost-effective option. Breastfeeding also gives a new mother a chance to bond with her baby.
If you and your partner are expecting a baby, making the decision to breastfeed will put your children on the best track to health. While many people think of breastfeeding as solely a mother's responsibility, new dads can help mom a lot. Here are some ways new dads can help.
1. Help feed the baby.
Many women choose to pump breast milk as a way of increasing the amount of breast milk they produce and also to be able to feed the baby when mom is at work. If the mother chooses to go this route, new dads can bottle feed the baby with breast milk—especially at times when the mother needs rest, such as during the night. For stay home dads, feeding the baby while mom is at work is also a great (and necessary!) way to participate in the breastfeeding process.
2. Support your partner.
Breastfeeding can be a very exhausting process for new moms. Aside from the physical strain of breastfeeding itself, mothers lose a lot of sleep feeding the baby during the night and experience interruptions of daily activities that can be stressful. New dads can help their partners by being emotionally supportive during this time. Understand that your partner will experience stress and take on responsibilities—such as cleaning or grocery shopping—that will lessen your partner's workload. Take the lead in activities like changing or bathing your baby to give yourself a chance to bond with the baby and also to give mom a break.
4. Understand changes in sexual appetite.
Breastfeeding can make a woman feel less inclined to sex. Having a baby sucking on her breasts all day can make the idea of being intimate unappealing. Be patient with your partner if this is the case and realize that her lack of interest is not a rejection of you, but an indication of the physical strain she is under.