Being both a husband and father, you might think that breastfeeding is a “women issue” which your wife should take the lead and does not concern you. However, as many researches have proven, you do play a vital role in the success of breastfeeding. This article will discuss your role, as a husband and father of the child, in supporting breastfeeding.
The nature of human milk
In order to tell you why you should support breastfeeding, let us have a short discussion about human milk and breastfeeding. Human milk is the natural ideal nourishment for baby. Medical and nutritional experts highly recommend human milk as the main food source for baby. According to the Malaysian Dietary Guidelines 2010, baby should be breastfed exclusively (or fed solely with breast milk) from birth until six months and can continue to be breastfed up to two years of age.
Human milk is so awesome and ideal that no any infant formula is able to mimic its nature. Human milk provides the right amount and balance of nutrients and fluid that ideally meet the nutritional needs of baby for optimal growth and development. Not only it is easily digested but also its nutrients are easily absorbed and used by baby. In fact, the composition and amount of human milk produced will change according to the needs of baby.
Furthermore, human milk, especially colostrums (the clear or yellow fluid secreted for first few days after delivery), is rich in antibodies and other substances that help the baby to build immunity and protect it from illnesses and allergies. Human milk is also clean, safe and readily available. So long as nursing mum is with her baby, the baby can be fed in anytime and anywhere even without the need of any feeding equipment.
The well-documented benefits of breastfeeding as shown in Table 1 will further strengthen the need for you to support breastfeeding:-
|1. Benefits for baby
|2. Benefits for mother||
|3. Economic, family and environmental benefits||
Most of the time you may feel left out or insignificant during the period of breastfeeding. However, this is not the case. Many studies have shown the importance of the husband’s support in the success of breastfeeding. Hence you should never underestimate your role. Your goals are to motivate and support your wife to breastfeed and to create a conducive environment for breastfeeding. Here are some ways you can help:-
The Swahili Proverb states: “A single hand cannot nurse a child.” Breastfeeding is no longer a mother-baby only issue – its success depends on the whole family. Your role as both a husband and father is important. Your support can give not only courage for your wife to initiate breastfeeding but also motivation to continue breastfeeding. The key attitudes you should have to show your support are passion, persistence, patience and, last but not least, action.