The breastfeeding process is an experience that affects all who are involved. It obviously involves the mother and child, but it also involves the father and can be a stressful, emotional time for him as well. It is crucial in understanding the emotions and concerns of your husband as you all proceed through the breastfeeding stage. Outlined below are some helpful hints at ways you can include and support your husband throughout this process and make sure that he feels needed during the experience.
Understanding the Dynamic
When the baby arrives, fathers are typically supportive of breastfeeding. It is only after the process begins that some fathers will feel confused and even upset about this prospect. Breastfeeding creates a unique bond between mother and child and can leave the father feeling left out of the equation. Your husband may feel that it will be harder to bond with the child, that he is inadequate or even resentment due to the baby coming in between you and him. It is important to understand the psychology of where he is coming from and to address these issues up-front.
Let your husband know that you cannot do this without him. Biology has dictated the situation and billions of children have had great bonding experiences with their father after being breastfed; there is no reason to worry about the future chances of emotional ties with the baby because of this. It is also necessary for him to understand that he is not inadequate because of his inability to breastfeed; nature apparently did not think so and neither should your husband! Ultimately, positive reinforcement is vital in reassuring your husband and making sure he is aware of his unique, valuable role in the parenting experience.
Involving Your Husband
Because in many instances this all relates to a feeling of inadequacy on behalf of the father, make sure that your husband understands that he is a valued partner in this dynamic. Your husband only wants to feel needed and involved and if you are able to do this, in many instances the insecurities and worries of your husband will fade. You can involve your husband by allowing him to be with you during breastfeeding sessions and making it an open experience. Ask him for help during the session when your hands are occupied and let him hold and burp the baby after feeding is complete. By allowing your husband to help and showing him that he is perfectly welcome to experience and be part of the process, this further eases his concerns and helps him understand the real reason behind breastfeeding.
Ultimately, both parents will have periods of emotional instability following the birth of a child. It is up to the one parent to help keep the other parent grounded and in-check, and in this case, it is the mother's duty to make sure that her husband feels included and useful in such a situation. Remember that the breastfeeding process is a relatively short stage of the parenting cycle as a whole, and as parents, time will fly by and soon will come the day that breastfeeding is over. Enjoy it while it lasts and make it a bonding experience between the mother, father and child.