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24.6.11

Breastfeeding: What about the dads?

From day one I was always very open about the fact that I breastfeed and how much I was enjoying it, despite the tongue tie, and also very open about how important it was to me to breastfeed.
I found this equalled in a lot of Facebook messages from friends asking for breastfeeding advice, whilst pregnant and also whilst breastfeeding themselves.
I'd be lying if I said I don't enjoy recieving messages asking for advice. And the fact that these people see me as someone to come to for encouragement.

One question I was asked from a 'would-be-breastfeeder' was "well, won't my partner be missing out?"
My reply: not at all!!

You see it was hard for my husband in the early days at times. Charles would be crying and I'd be cooking tea or wanting a bath etc and all he would want was me my boobs.
It almost left my husband feeling helpless and slightly rejected I suppose as he couldn't do anything for Charles other than to hand him over to me.
We decided though, whilst I was pregnant, that as I would be doing the feeding and it would be my job, that we would have something that my husband would do which would end up being his job and his responsibility.
In the first week he became head of nappies. I was quite freaked out by the cord so he kindly took over, other than at nighttime, and would change nappies. He ended up having to teach me how to change a nappy as I'd never done one before. (I will never forget those moments, I never knew I could bond with my husband over nappy changing!)
We also decided his job would be bathtime. And this is what I recommend to all mums who are concerned that the dads will feel left out. It gives them the chance to bond as there is a closeness to bathing your child, then having what we call "daddy drying cuddles" and then the dad getting the child dressed for bed.


At 2 years old this is still my husbands job, I will do bathtime if he has to work late or is busy doing something else....or if I just fancy doing it.
I love sitting downstairs listening to the two of them laughing as Charles splashes my husband whilst he's in the bath and my husband sits on the bathroom floor with a towel over him avoiding getting completely soaked.
I love listening to them as they have the daddy drying cuddles, giggling or talking about what each of them have done that day, and then listening to my husband settle Charles into bed.

And now a big part of the bedtime routine is storytime. In particular, The Gruffalo.
My husband used to read to Charles when I was pregnant, something we, well he, sadly hasn't done in this pregnancy, and we always said this would be another one of his reponsibilities.
As a voiceover artist and radio presenter it seems only right that his job is to do storytime.

There have been times that I've heard them playing in the bath or laughing as Charles gets ready for bed that I can't listen to it anymore and feel I have to join them upstairs and be part of it.


I had a conversation with my husband regarding this tonight. With baby two due in the next two weeks or so, if not earlier, I reminded my husband of the tough early days when I was all Charles wanted, and asked him if he finds his bond is stronger now that Charles is older and that he depends on the both of us rather than predominantly me. The answer was expected. Yes.
He said that he didn't feel a lack of bond with Charles when he was a baby, but it was difficult in a way at times because he couldn't comfort him and it never made him resent breastfeeding. 
He understood, and still understands, why Charles was the way that he was and that it wasn't a reflection of his feelings towards my husband [ie, that he didn't want him or love him] it was simply that he wanted my breasts and what was contained in them!

It just shows that yes in the early days I was mainly the person Charles needed. But when we look at the bigger picture, my "main role and responsibility" ended at 18 months, yet at 2 years old, Charles is still bathed, cuddled, dressed and put to bed by daddy.

My husband also tends to deal with Charles in the morning [most mornings] and gets him dressed. They have the same conversation every morning:
Husband: "did you sleep well Charlie?"
Charles: "sleep well, towel on" [he calls his duvet a towel]
Husband: "Do you want some minarni?" [Charles' word for food which seems to have stuck!]
Charles: "Yes, star spoon!"
Husband: "Do you want milk?"
Charles: "Yes, star spoon" [Star spoon is basically a white spoon with a star on that he loves]
They then head down for breakfast.

So, what about the dad? Give him his own responsibilities. This has definitely worked very well for us. When I was breastfeeding my husband would also sort out Charles' main teatime meal which we then made my responsibility.
And of course there is the fact that you can express your breastmilk and the dad give the baby the milk from a bottle. Best of both worlds surely. [This never happened for us as Charles wouldn't take a bottle until 12 months and then it had to be water rather than my milk/cows milk]

Sadly, my advice obviously wasn't good enough for the friend who asked me the question originally and she went on to formula feed straight away anyway, despite telling me she really really really wanted to breastfeed. [I do hate it when people say these things just because they think I want to hear it]

So, again, what about the dad? Well, what about the dad??