by Randi McCallian, MPH, CPH, CLC, CD(DONA)
Men often wonder what they can do to support breastfeeding, sometimes saying they feel left out when a mother breastfeeds.
What they don’t often know is…
The support of the baby’s father is the most important to a breastfeeding mother.
At MHP Salud, we surveyed and interviewed almost 100 migrant Latina mothers who are successfully breastfeeding and they said that the baby’s father was the most important person that supported them.
Many breastfeeding programs and messages focus on the mother, but now it might be time to put some of that effort into helping men know how important they are to breastfeeding success, and how they can help.
Why support breastfeeding?
Babies fed infant formula are not as healthy as babies fed breastmilk.
Breastfeeding helps protect babies* from:
- Sickness and diseases
- Asthma and allergies
- Some cancers
- Dying from SIDS
And helps protect moms** from:
- Ovarian and breast cancers
- Heart disease
Ways to support a breastfeeding mother:
Breastfeeding mothers say these are a few ways you can show your support and help them breastfeed!
✔ Encourage her to breastfeed.
Babies should eat only breastmilk for the first 6 months and continue breastfeeding for at least one year. There is no limit to how long breastfeeding should last, so mother and baby can breastfeed for as long as they desire.
✔ Congratulate her for breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is hard work, and you can help her keep going!
Tell her you are proud of her!
✔ Help her breastfeed in public.
Breastfeeding in public makes many women uncomfortable. Try helping mom cover up, or go with her to a private spot to breastfeed.
✔ Burp the baby after a feeding.
Hold them on your shoulder and pat gently.
* “Breastfeeding Benefits Your Baby’s Immune System.” HealthyChildren.org. American Academy of Pediatrics, updated August 20, 2015. Web. October 21, 2015.
** “Healthy Milk, Healthy Baby: Benefits of Breastfeeding”. National Resources Defense Council, updated March 25, 2015. Web. October 21, 2015.
Randi McCallian, MPH, CPH, CLC, CD(DONA)
Randi’s passion for maternal and child health has been cultivated for over a decade. She has received certifications as a birth doula, lactation counselor, and completed a Master’s Degree in Public Health. Currently, Randi directs a Breastfeeding Program with MHP Salud and has conducted some of the only known Positive Deviance Inquiry research with breastfeeding mothers in local, Latino, migrant communities. Her most recent accomplishments include the birth of a daughter and her own breastfeeding journey, as well as sitting for the IBCLC board exam.
What works for you?