The nursing who? Dads and partners, yes! Well, sort of.

Nursing can be a special bonding time that typically only mother and baby share. Dad can feel left out or disinterested. Sometimes, in order for Dad to have intimacy with Baby too, families make a choice to have Dad sometimes bottle-feed, rather than Mama always breastfeeding.

Here is a lovely and bonding way for Dad to be involved in nursing. Sit or lie in a comfy place big enough for all three of you. Have Dad behind or beside Mama so she can lean against him. Dad and Baby may be able to comfortably see each other; but if Baby doesn’t look up that far, it is okay–not looking at you doesn’t mean your support does not impact Baby.

Nursing can be a bonding time for the whole family. Photo compliments of BMC IDME training, Durham, NC, 2010. Pictured: Instructor Sandra Jamrog supporting a family attending FUNdamentals class.

Why not just let Dad bottle feed?

Typically, breast milk is produced on demand. That is, Baby’s sucking signals to Mama’s body that milk, and more milk, is needed. The less Baby nurses, the less Mama’s body makes milk, and the more challenging it can become to continue nursing. Even missing just one feeding/pumping can affect the amount of milk to be made.

Also, a different action of the tongue is required for each. While breastfeeding, Baby’s tongue goes underneath and draws nipple and milk into himself. With a bottle, Baby’s tongue must move forward and back on the tip of the nipple (tapping or thrusting motion) to stop and release the flow of milk. This can lead to confusion for some babies who receive both breast and bottle.

Breastfeeding offers so many benefits, so consider not switching between breast and bottle, but finding other ways for Dad to be involved and bond with Baby.

  • Dad can take a bath with Baby
  • Dad can set up comfy nursing spots around the house and make sure Mama eats well. It doesn’t sound like a glamourous, bonding job; but supporting Mom to support Baby is a tremendous and touching gift! If she is not nourished well, she can’t nourish Baby.
  • Spend some playtime together.
  • Nap with Baby! (adds ‘Manny’ Bern)
  • And if you do need to switch back and forth, make sure Baby is able to adjust her tongue action as necessary.

Maryska Bigos, director of Body-Mind Centering® Infant Developmental Movement Educator trainings, says: “I always encourage Dads to have their own skin-to-skin time with their child by being responsible for bathing with their infant whenever a bath is necessary. It is important after the pregnancy and birth that Dads not let a feeling of being left out discourage them. Be patient and persistent at finding comfortable nursing in side-lying as well as laid-back positions that include Dad (and siblings) in this important family time. At the most basic level, supporting and loving your child’s mother is the most effective way to love your child.”

© Elizabeth Parker 2011, All Rights Reserved (Links are welcome. If you’d like to share my post in your blog or materials, please ask permission.)

Much of my work comes from Infant Developmental Movement Education®, part of the Body-Mind Centering® Approach to Somatic Education, and Dr. Aletha Solter’s Aware Parenting. I am a certified Infant Developmental Movement Educator®, Body-Mind Centering® Practitioner, Feldenkrais® Practitioner, and Spiritual Counselor.