Fathers To Be

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Breast is best...for Dads too

by Patrick Houser

Throughout our history mothers breastfeeding their babies has run the spectrum from feast to famine. Very long ago nearly every mother breastfed; nature obviously had a good plan. During less distant times mothers breastfeeding became unfashionable and 'proper society' did not even consider it. Many only breastfed if they could not afford a wet nurse. Mothers today often approach breastfeeding with ambiguity and fathers are having an influence on the process. (download article here)

(written  for La Leche League International Magazine, New Beginnings , August 2009)


Breastfeeding is enhanced and the nursing couple sustained by the loving support, help and

companionship of the baby’s father. A father’s unique relationship with his baby is

 an important element in the child’s development from early infancy.

La Leche League

The Golden Bow is the symbol for breastfeeding protection, promotion and support.

One loop represents the mother. The other loop represents the child. The knot is the father, the family and the society.

Without the knot, there would be no bow; without the support, breastfeeding cannot succeed.



by Patrick M. House

(excerpt from Fathers-To-Be Handbook)


Breastfeeding can be a profound and deeply intimate part of the relationship between a mother and her infant. It is also a very clever, convenient and easy way to provide the best nourishment possible for a baby. There are mothers who cannot breastfeed or choose not to. As with other aspects of this time it is best if the two of you research and discuss this, and then support the mother in her choice.

There can be no measure of the value of breastfeeding for mother and baby. There are, however, volumes of research which reveal beyond any doubt that it is highly beneficial for both of them, physically and emotionally. Mother’s breast milk provides a child with the best possible foundation for his immune system. It also builds on the bonding between mother and child and adds a level of security to the baby’s world. A breastfeeding mother is also less likely to experience post-partum depression. This is because of the hormones that come into play as well as the emotional connection it creates between them. The most natural length of time to breastfeed is very individual and best left to each mother and child to determine. Many mothers and babies enjoy breastfeeding for two or more years. Know that your support of the breastfeeding couple is most important and irreplaceable. This is another real form of providing for your family. 

Veronika Sophia Robinson, in her book The Drinks are on Me writes, “Breastfeeding is a sacred art. It opens our soul and brings us to a place which connects generations past with future generations.”19

If your partner is breastfeeding you may have varying responses. You could find it wondrous, sensual and satisfying. You could also feel left out or jealous. You could perceive it as a sexual event that you do not appear to be included in. “Those are my breasts. They have been a source of much sexual pleasure for me and now someone else, possibly even another male, is having his way with them. I am excluded. What about me?” How you respond may surprise you. Be honest with yourself and speak about it with your partner, with care however. Perhaps cuddle with your family when they are breastfeeding. Include yourself, respectfully of course. Be willing to expand your definition of intimacy. Also, go skin to skin with your baby, you will both benefit.



Crucial for STRONG support and encouragement

 by Deborah Robertson


Whether or not your baby is breastfed will make an enormous difference to his/her physical, mental and emotional health.  Your baby will enjoy those benefits now and throughout his/her whole life.  The many benefits of breastfeeding include:

·         Baby will be less likely to get ill, need a doctor or a hospital.  Either as a child or as an adult.

·         Baby will be less likely to have an allergy or become obese.

·         Baby’s brain will grow to its true intellectual potential.

·         Baby’s mum will be less likely to suffer seriously debilitating or life threatening illnesses for the rest of  

        her life.

No money can buy these benefits.  They are not provided by any artificial replacement for mother’s real milk.  Also, the whole family will benefit from not having the financial drain of buying in artificial substitute milk.  And when the family goes out there is no feeding stuff to carry and make up!



“Fatherhood is the ultimate manhood.  Being a father is the one thing that only a man can do. 

Take pride in it and apologise to no one for giving your time and first consideration to your family."

Dr David Stewart, father of 5.


“Providing understanding and support for the breastfeeding pair is one of the most valuable investments

you can make in the future health and well-being of your family."

Dr William Sears, paediatrician.



This is the key.  Mum and baby need to establish a strong bond, plentiful milk supply and enjoyable breastfeeding relationship.  As the new dad you can make this happen by your attitude, actions and words:

1.        BE WISE in how you use your paternity leave.  Take as long as you can manage.  Take it when the new 

           mum and baby would otherwise be at home alone.  Concentrate just on the needs of the new mum and 

           baby (and any other children.)  Let everything else wait.

2.       FIX IT so that the household ‘ticks over’.  Take over yourself or welcome help from others.  Or buy in

          help e.g. a cleaner, supermarket delivery, mother’s help.

3.       GUARD against too many visitors.  Let others know when your new little family need to be alone.  E.g. 

          turn off the phone and put a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the front door.

4.       TAKE CHARGE of your other children.  Distract them with fun activities and exercise.  See that they get

           enough attention, sleep and wholesome food.

5.       PROTECT the new mum from well meaning but unhelpful advice that undermines breastfeeding.  Even if

          it comes from your own mum!

6.       SEEK OUT skilled help if any problems crop up.  Problems are more easily solved if you call for help

           straight away.  Problems with soreness or not enough milk can usually be fixed easily if you track down

           the right help early on.  So keep looking until you find that help.  The new mum will have been given a

           contact number for a Breastfeeding Counsellor or Breastfeeding Peer Supporter.  Maybe make that  

           first call yourself.

7.       RESPECT the new mum’s instincts.  Nature isn’t daft and maternal instincts have ensured the survival of

          our species for millions of years.  The new mum’s breastfeeding hormones drive her to mothering 

          through breastfeeding.

8.       FIGHT OFF any pressures to separate mum and baby.

9.       SEARCH for details of local mums’ breastfeeding groups.  Urge the new mum to attend right away so she

          gets this vital mother-to-mother contact.  She will get ongoing support to carry on breastfeeding as

          long as she and baby want.  It will make all the difference.

10.     ADMIRE and PRAISE your baby’s mother.  Your encouragement will work wonders.

11.     FIRMLY RESIST pressures to feed baby anything other than mum’s real milk until baby reaches six

          months of age.  Only then do you add solids to baby’s diet of mother’s milk.

12.    BE MATURE and meet your baby’s need for you. Your baby needs you to be an in involved father and not

          a substitute mother. Spend time with your baby. Explore how to form your own unique father-baby




Many fathers find the following are useful things to do.  You will soon be able to add your own ideas:

a)      Embrace mum and baby as they nurse.

b)      Give baby a bath.

c)       Help baby feel more comfortable: rock, burp, massage.

d)      ‘Wear’ baby in a sling, carrier or wrap. 

e)      Sing and talk to your baby.  Your own voice will be familiar since listening to it from the womb.

f)       Play with your baby.

g)      Cuddle or carry baby.  The ‘colic hold’ (baby face down along dad’s forearm with limbs dangling) works a 

        treat to calm an unsettled baby.

h)      Take baby out for a walk using the pram or sling.  You will give baby a change of scene and fresh air.  It

        is fun to introduce your baby to the delights of the big wide world.

i)        Change nappies, making the most of the eye contact, chat and caring opportunities.

j)        Organise outings and treats.  Plan dates for the three of you together.



With breastfeeding, dad’s attitude and involvement can make all the difference between success and failure.  To learn more, see other sources of information:

·         Book: Becoming a Father: How to Nurture & Enjoy Your Family  by William Sears: LLLI, 2003

·         Chapter 10, ‘The Manly Art of Fathering’ from the Book: The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, 7th Edition:

        LLLI, 2004

·         Leaflet about Dad’s role: Fathers and Breastfeeding:  NCT, 2007 


·         Leaflet about the difference that breastfeeding makes: Reasons to be Proud  NCT, 2005


©Deborah Robertson IBCLC, Revised 2009.  Deborah is a Lactation Consultant in Medway, Kent who provides antenatal and postnatal breastfeeding consultations for parents as well as Breastfeeding Specialist Study Days for health professionals and volunteers.  www.breastfeedingspecialist.com 


Deborah Robertson has kindly contributed this information. Click here for a downloadable version of above. Permission is granted to copy and distribute this article as long as it is kept entire, original author is credited and it is used in accordance with the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.


For additional information and GREAT breastfeeding video clips see Jack Newman @  www.drjacknewman.com


Kelly Mom is a fantastic and reliable source as she is an Lactation Counsultant who writes prolifically herself as well as pointing the way to other good sources, e.g. www.kellymom.com/bf/start/prepare/bf-links-father.html


La Leche League International is probably the most extensive source of breastfeeding info.  Here an article dedicated to dad's role in breastfeeding:  www.llli.org/FAQ/dad.html


La Leche League, Dads are Special Information Sheet - Really good for fathers.



Breastfeeding Fathers Need Not Feel Left Out, article by Barbara Higham from LLL.



Fathers-To-Be is a member of and supports: The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) is a global network of individuals& organisations concerned with the protection, promotion & support of breastfeeding worldwide.WABA action is based on the Innocenti Declaration, the Ten Links for Nurturing the Future and theGlobal Strategy for Infant & Young Child Feeding. WABA is in consultative status with UNICEF & an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC). World Alliance for Breastfeeding Awareness, www.waba.org.my  


The Golden Bow is the symbol for breastfeeding protection, promotion and support.

It's Meaning and Purpose:

Many social change efforts have used ribbons and pins to create a sense of belonging to a social movement. While The Golden Bow serves this purpose, but it is unique in that it is not simply a symbol for social change,  but carries many meanings within its own design. The Golden Bow is, in and of itself, a lesson in the protection,  promotion and support of breastfeeding.

Gold: The use of the gold colour for the bow symbolises that breastfeeding is the gold standard for infant feeding,  against which any other alternative should be compared and judged.

A Bow: Why do we use a bow, rather than the looped ribbon of most campaigns? Each part of the bow carries a special message:

One loop represents the mother.

The other loop represents the child.

The ribbon is symmetrical, telling us the mother and child are both vital to successful breastfeeding - neither is to  the left nor to the right, signifying neither is precedent, both are needed.

The knot is the father, the family and the society. Without the knot, there would be no bow; without the support, breastfeeding cannot succeed. The ribbons are the future: the exclusive breastfeeding for six months, and  continued breastfeeding for 2 years or more with appropriate complementary feeding, and the delay of the next birth, preferably for 3 years or more, to give the mother and child time together to recover and to grow, respectively, and to give the mother the time she needs to provide active care for the health, growth and development of this child.

Origins: While we have not been able to identify the origins of this symbolism, it has been in scattered use for about 8-10 years.

The Future: UNICEF is proud to launch this symbol and educational campaign on the 12th anniversary of the Innocenti Declaration. Please wear it proudly, and tell everyone who asks of its many meanings.


44(0)1892 890614

For Fatherhood Coaching (fathers, mothers or professionals) see Patrick Houser at www.greatvine.com