Category Archives: Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding for guys. I get it. You don’t have boobs. You can still help.

O.K. Dads here the deal: It’s 2AM, you have your new 2 day old baby at home for the first time, you’ve had 2 hours of sleep in the past 2 days, your kiddo isn’t latching on 2 mom well, tears of frustration are starting to well-up in her eyes and you have 2 seconds to figure out what to do before Mom, baby, and you start to lose it…. what do you do??

Terrifying? Yup. Been there… but don’t panic. If you weren’t trained for this before, I’ll help walk you through it.

Through my own trial and error, and pumping my wife for feedback, I have compiled a couple helpful tips of do’s and don’t that will help you breastfeed.

Tip 1: Consider breastfeeding a team sport with the mentality that you are both breastfeeding.

My wife really found it helpful for me to just be there, as an extension of her. Breastfeeding put an enormous amount of pressure on my wife. After all, breastfeeding is supposed to be natural and the best form of nutrition for your baby… to not succeed gave her feelings of not only failure as a mother, but also that the baby isn’t getting what’s best. Breastfeeding can be a very onerous responsibility, with the pressure of letting the three of you down. The more you make the act of breastfeeding seem like a team sport, the less guilt and burden she will feel when things don’t go so well (which usually is bound to happen). Hopefully you have some paternity time off that first week. I really do suggest waking up for those first few breastfeeds with your wife until things start going smoothly. Now, the question becomes, what to do while she is breastfeeding?

Tip 2: Make like Jeeves and wait.

I’m thinking that origin of ‘waiting on tables’ and thus, a ‘waiter’ probably stems from the responsibility to just stand-by, be patient, and ‘wait’ until given something to do. You don’t have breasts, so you have to find other ways to be a part of this breastfeeding team.

Here’s a couple pearls:

–          Keep a LARGE water glass full of cold water. My wife was ALWAYS thirsty, and really pretty parched for water. (I thought this was curious, so I looked it up. Guess what? Scientific article “Thirst induced by a suckling episode during breast feeding and relation with plasma vasopressin, oxytocin and osmoregulation.”1 or in other words, baby sucking makes you thirsty). You will find that Mom is so focused on breastfeeding that she really can’t just press pause get things like a glass of water. In fact, with this one, don’t wait for her to ask, just keep a cold glass full by her side. She will notice and thank you.

–          She probably forgot to grab the remote control, lanolin cream, burp cloth, or tons of other little things before she sat down and got things started. Again, interrupting breastfeeding is really tricky for her. Be there to help get these things.

–          Impromptu shoulder rub. Just do it. She won’t mind.

Tip 3: You can over do it.

Yeah, I was feeling a little cocky. I went to the breastfeeding class. I followed around lactation doctors while in residency. I watched the lactation nurses work with my wife in the hospital. I’m IndyPedsDoc for crying out loud! I can be such a bonehead. Your wife does need you to be there emotionally and even physically… but she isn’t a cow that wants to be milked. Its one thing for a lactation nurse to manipulate her breast, but you are her teammate, and doing these things can make her feel as if she isn’t doing it right, and that you could do better. Leave her breasts alone unless she asks.

Tip 4: Reinforce that she is your hero

Especially during those late-night feeds when the latching isn’t going well and she asks, on the verge of tears, ‘What am I doing wrong?” or “Why isn’t he latching?” I found the best thing to do was kiss her on the forehead, maybe hand her a kleenex, and offer words of encouragement (check out my earlier blog with a note from our lacatation nurse for some easy tips that will help). You might have a tip that you remembered during your breastfeeding class, but again, don’t let her think that you could do better, or that she is doing things wrong. If things are really getting strained, it might be best to take a break and have her take a shower or nap, and call the lactation nurse in the morning. Remember: all babies are equipped with extra fluid on board until mom’s milk comes in, which means losing a little weight those first few days is normal. You can remind her that a newborn’s stomach is about the size of a big marble, so as long as the baby is peeing a few times a day, the baby is probably getting everything it needs.

Good luck Team! You are going to be great.

1) James RJ, Irons DW. Thirst induced by a suckling episode during breast feeding and relation with plasma vasopressin, oxytocin and osmoregulation. , Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 1995 Sep;43(3):277-82.

An email from our lactation consultant (a must read for breastfeeding parents)

Dear Sarah and Dr. G,

I am confident with some time both of you will work into breastfeeding success. Don’t give up and Be patient, both of you are learning and he needs some time to forget about his early days in the hospital (the separation from you both, constant NICU stimulation, tests, and bottle feedings).  He needs time to be at home, bonding with you both.  In this (stay at home), quiet,, no testing, atmosphere he will begin to relax and fit into that wonderful baby routine of eat,sleep, poop, pee and best of all being loved and touched gently.   Scheduling is ok right now keeping your breast happy with milk release by pumping or nursing, and making sure Henry  is fed by the 3rd hour.    Remember to time the next feeding from the moment his tummy is full.   It takes about 10 min after a feeding, and gentle burp for babies to slip into that deep sleep so they can be  placed in a crib without waking up.  That’s your goal.  Happy breasts, happy baby, happy Mommy, happy daddy.

> Try natural methods to increase your milk supply.   Diet, fluid intake, eat two servings of oatmeal a day, Pumping on a comfortably high setting with the larger flange 27mm.  Your breasts need a good 2 1/2 hour break between feedings or pumping sessions to replenish milk volumes.

>  Rest:   This is so important to your whole well being.  You can rest with baby skin to skin between feedings, as long as you do not drift into sleep.
Pump before feeding; Give the milk and baby to Daddy for food and bonding,  while you take your meds and go to bed for a good 3 hours.

>  Breastfeeding:  Choose your times to attempt a feeding at the breast, or when doing skin to skin bonding, his little brief latch on moments are good practice   sessions.  Let him explore your breasts and nipples and learn.
If pumping before a feeding: do this 20 min prior to even waking Henry ..  Pump both or one to collect 15 -20 mm per breast.   Wake Henry
Burp him, change his diaper, and bring him to your breast.  Cuddle and bond first, watch for his rooting, and see if he will latch to your bare Wet nipple.  If he
refuses, or fusses,  give him the fresh milk you just pumped,  once he takes that milk.  Then bring him back to your nipple, hopefully to continue his feeding.
You may use the shield as directed.  Apply wet, massage the breast, bringing a puddle of milk into the shield, so he gets instant reward when he sucks.
Massage your breasts as you pump and as you nurse Henry.  This keeps milk moving toward your nipple, for removal.

>  Use the tips provided in the engorgement phase management hand out.  Switch it up to make it work for you.

>  Clean pump parts, bottles, nipples, paci, shield, with hot soapy water, hot rinse and paper towel dry.  Dish washers can harbor bacteria.

Sarah,  Now that you are home with Henry,  Keep visitors to a minimum, stay in your PJ’s, Do a lot of skin to skin bonding with Henry,  Dr. G- this means you too. curl up next to Sarah and Henry in bed for some important gentle bonding time.  When it is time for sleep, Henry goes to his crib.    Both of you Sleep when baby sleeps.  Maternal Fatigue can disrupt milk production, and prompt frustration (tears).  Sarah, You have everything you need to feed your baby.  Working into nursing at the breast needs patients, practice, and confidence.   All of which you have.  You can do it.  You’re both such loving parents.  Keep me posted.  I will check with you tomorrow.

Our lactation consultant and Henry:

Carla and Henry