Deciphering Father’s Role in Breastfeeding

According to a conventional belief, breastfeeding is only confined to mothers. As times change, so do beliefs. There’s no reason why fathers should deprive themselves from experiencing the utter joy of getting involved in initial stages of upbringing their babies. Let’s take breastfeeding for example. Fathers can play a very critical role in helping mothers initiate and sustain breastfeeding and should be well-equipped with the right knowledge about the entire process. 

A survey was recently conducted by Medela with over 7,800 Australian mums as respondents. Most mothers indicated that their partners are the biggest emotional and practical support system when they start nursing, which is the key to a successful breastfeeding journey. Among the respondents, 75% of mothers showed confidence and trust when it comes to their partner looking after their child(1).

There is a clear need for fathers to support their partners emotionally and practically for them to have fruitful breastfeeding sessions. Being a new father is an overwhelming feeling and we understand that you want to be there for your partner every step of the way. With the right information on the challenges and solutions on breastfeeding, you can become the pillar of strength for your partner.

We’ve created this small guide for you to ease into the process of breastfeeding, while supporting your partner. 


How does breastfeeding work?

While understanding the process of breastfeeding, it is crucial to keep in mind that there is no such thing as normal in nursing. New-born babies feed 10 – 12 times a day and there’s no proper schedule for that. During the initial days, babies tend to get hungrier and thus need frequent feeding. Once the breastfeeding is established, babies and mothers get used to the process and respond better to each other’s needs. With time, mothers become more adept at carrying out the process of nursing and babies get more efficient in getting a good latch which is extremely important for a successful nursing session. It is vital that you know a few basic key terms of nursing for a better understanding of the breastfeeding cycle.

  • Latching: It refers to the act of the baby connecting appropriately onto the nipple with its mouth.

  • Let down reflex: The let-down reflex indicates that the breast milk is ready to flow which might leave the mothers with a sense of sudden warmth or a tingling sensation in their breasts as they start breastfeeding. Some mothers might not feel it at all.

  • Colostrum: The milk produced during the initial days of breastfeeding is known as colostrum. It has all the essential nutrients which are ideal for a new-born’s ceaseless growth and development. 

  • Nipple Shield: It is a breastfeeding accessory which helps babies to get a better latch if the mother’s nipples are flat or inverted. This also helps mums to recover from sore or cracked nipples. 


Once you get accustomed to the basics of breastfeeding, the next step is to:

Understand the common problems a breastfeeding mother can face.

Breastfeeding is the best choice a mother can make for her new-born but at times, it isn’t as simple as it sounds, especially during the first few days. It is evident that most mothers feel confused at the beginning, thanks to various myths, misunderstandings and preconceived notions surrounding breastfeeding. Moreover, the process of nursing comes along with various challenges and complications like not getting a proper latch, insufficient production of milk, fear of being bitten by the baby, sore or cracked nipples and many more. In order to provide the necessary help, you need to listen to your partner and understand the issues she’s going facing. It is a learning phase for both of you and you need to help each other to ensure a smooth breastfeeding journey. If needed, you can take advice from a lactation consultant and get the necessary suggestions and help. 


How to help your partner practically during breastfeeding and beyond?

It is totally understandable that when your spouse starts breastfeeding you may feel out of place and wonder what to do to offer some help. There are many ways through which you are involved in the process and make a valuable contribution to ensure a healthy breastfeeding experience. Many activities that you do with your baby like, changing the diapers, carrying the baby in a sling, bathing your baby, massaging her, holding and soothing her during bedtime can relieve your partner to a great extent and she’ll appreciate your help and support. Getting more involved with the baby will help you create a stronger bond with her. You can also help your spouse immensely by taking care of other responsibilities that she takes care of.


By knowing the basics of nursing you can be of great help to your spouse and baby during breastfeeding, but to make sure that nothing goes wrong it is crucial that you:

Become an expert on breastfeeding.

To initiate the process, you need to become an enthusiastic advocate of your spouse as she starts breastfeeding. Help her in her research and approach reliable sources for the right kind of information. As your wife is likely to juggle between handling the baby and various other chores, it becomes difficult for her to do thorough research and that is when your role as the perfect partner comes into the picture. Be proactive and read articles and blogs about breastfeeding in books, magazines and on the internet. You can also join parental classes or accompany your wife to breastfeeding support group meetings so you know what to expect and what exactly needs to be done to offer her support when the time calls for it.

While supporting your partner in breastfeeding with empathy, understanding, love, and dedication, you can help your spouse overcome the challenges of breastfeeding. Happy breastfeeding to you and your partner!