I'm due in two-three weeks. I'd like breastfeed my son exclusively for at least a month or two (circumstance permitting). My question is: how do I include my husband in breastfeeding? We've talked about naked cuddling while breastfeeding because of oxytocin and skin contact. But I was wondering if there were any other ideas out there. I really want him to be included!


What a great question! Congratulations on your first baby and your decision to try breastfeeding. It's much harder than you think, but don't give up because it is very rewarding. Anyway, some ways your husband can help are:

Before feeding, dad can change the baby and get her undressed. It'll give him some skin time, and some face time. My kids used to light up on the changing table-they loved the one on one time.

While you are feeding, dad can stroke and tickle the baby to keep her awake. Newborns often struggle to stay awake to eat enough. Dad can get you some water, decaf tea, or whatever beverage suits you (because you should get in the habit of drinking fluids at every feeding to keep yourself hydrated and the milk flowing) and a snack to keep your hunger at bay.

When the baby is bigger, he could read, sing, or play an instrument to entertain a fidgety baby who doesn't want to finish a feeding because she's too busy.

After the feeding, you can have dad burp the baby, and if your child is like mine who had bowel movements at every feeding early on, change her again. Once the baby is burped, dad can swaddle her and put her to bed, or, set her up for play time (even newborns will have a few hours of alertness-hopefully it won't be at 2am.) Having dad put the baby to bed is a GREAT habit to get into now if you do end up breastfeeding exclusively because when the baby is older and you are trying to eliminate night feedings, she will already be used to dad doing the soothing.

When you aren't breastfeeding the baby, if your goal is to promote bonding, absolutely have dad and baby do some skin to skin time. Your husband can also wear the baby in a sling or harness while he goes about his day to get even more contact. (I think only slings can be used for newborns; harnesses usually require the baby to have control of her head) And finally, you can encourage dad to bathe the baby. (My husband showered with our babies as soon as their cord fell off. It was their special time together. All my kids loved being held in the warm water, until they got too big and squirmy, and we switched to baths, which my husband is still in charge of.)

My final bit of advice for how to involve dad in breastfeeding, which might be the most important, is to have your husband support YOU. Breastfeeding a newborn is very demanding, both physically and emotionally so it's important to have your husband there for you, encouraging you, taking care of you when you are too worn out to do it yourself.

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    Wonderful answer (+1 from me), only one objection: Breastfeeding is actually very easy. The problem is that it is very helpful to have an experienced woman showing you how to do it right in the beginning – and that's a problem in our society. My advice would be: Do not let yourself be discouraged by nurses telling you you do not seem to have enough milk, the baby isn't able to be breastfed or whatever they say! Literally every mother can breastfeed. Keep trying. Get help if necessary. And do longer than one month! By then you just got into the habit and have learned to relax and enjoy. – sbi Jan 10 '15 at 21:44
  • +1 Very good answer. Agree with sbi that breastfeeding is very easy for most people. However, disagree that "literally every mother can breastfeed." However, the vast majority can and do breastfeed, and it really isn't difficult. – anongoodnurse Jan 11 '15 at 0:12
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    Ok, well, I guess I should clarify that breastfeeding is difficult if you don't 1) have someone show you how to do it (I didn't- I had a crusty old nurse thrust my 1 hr old baby at me after 30 hrs of labor and say "here, he's hungry", and got similar advice from my mother); or 2) have the right expectations of what it is, which I didn't. I know I'm not the only one who didn't find it easy at first (but did the second and third time) for these two reasons. I think it's worth mentioning. I felt like a huge FAILURE AS A WOMAN bc everyone around me said it was very easy and yet I struggled. – Jax Jan 11 '15 at 1:01
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    I wish breastfeeding were easy for every woman. Between sensitivity issues, production problems and exhaustion, breastfeeding was near enough a nightmare for my wife. We ended up pumping exclusively after a couple months, and it was so much easier. Also, pumping would be my suggestion for getting the father involved. It allowed me to be the one to actually feed my son. When my son was very little I cherished being able to be involved with feeding. At night, it also let my wife get some well-earned rest. – user11394 Jan 11 '15 at 5:38
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    My wife also exclusively pumps, and so I do end up feeding the baby a lot. It's good bonding time, not to mention allows my wife to get some longer sleeps in. (Also concur on it not being easy: She fully intended to breastfeed, but despite help of 3 or 4 different midwives, a couple nurses, a lactation consultant, and a couple experienced friends -- not to mention every combination of shields/tubes/etc -- it was just not happening, certainly not enough to sustain baby. Both mom and baby ended up frustrated, crying, and exhausted. After a month and a bit, she decided to just exclusively pump.) – gregmac Jan 11 '15 at 6:30

Pumping is a great way to get the father (or non-lactating parent) involved with the breast feeding process.

Pumping provides most of the same convenience benefits that using formula provides:

  • It allows the other parent to actively participate in feeding
  • It allows the other parent to take care of the infant during sleeping hours, so that the lactating parent can get some much-needed rest
  • It allows for feeding the infant during times when it's inconvenient to breastfeed (for instance, during traveling where you may not want to be in the cramped car/busy gas station/airplane when you stop to feed)
  • It allows you to have more control over the feeding schedule by having bottles available even if the nursing parent isn't

Pumping isn't without drawbacks. For one, you have to acquire a pump and then all the bottle and storage accessories. It can add a significant initial cost that doesn't exist with solely breastfeeding. Another downside is that some women have a harder time producing as much milk from pumping as they do from nursing. These drawbacks can be mitigated by your choices such as purchasing more economical items, pumping more or less often as needed

The act of feeding a young infant can be a very positive bonding experience for both parents. Pumping allows for the other parent to be directly involved in providing sustenance to a cherished little one.

Yes, I intentionally wrote this answer (and some of my others) to also apply to for non-traditional family units.

  • I'd also like to add that one must not choose to exclusively breastfeed OR pump/bottle feed. I fully support CreationEdge's suggestion to bottle feed breast milk in order to divide the work/benefit equally, or, even better is to do both. There are some hard core lactation ppl that claim that nipple confusion is basically guaranteed if you attempt to give a bottle to a baby who breastfeeds. Not so. I breastfed my babies even after returning to work-they took bottles during the day (I pumped at work) and then nursed happily, without any hesitation, at night. – Jax Jan 12 '15 at 2:00
  • Indeed. When I get a chance back on the computer and not my tablet I'll update my answer with some recent sources that say nipple confusion isn't really a thing in the first six months. I think that's what I've been reading. We personally had no issues alternating, either. – user11394 Jan 12 '15 at 2:04

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