Can Dads Breastfeed?

February 4, 2016
by Dr. Andrew Godfrey-Kittle

Hello! My name is Andrew Godfrey-Kittle and I am the newest addition to the DeKalb Pediatric Center provider team, having joined in the summer of 2014. I grew up in Decatur and was very pleased to get the opportunity to stay in this community that I love and become the first male member of the doctors here.

Nine months ago my son, Benjamin was born, and I can emphatically say that NO, dads cannot breastfeed! However, my eyes were opened to what it’s like to be the non breastfeeding partner during those stressful early days of parenthood. Here a few of my recollections and tips that will (hopefully!) aid some of you.

Breastfeeding is not always easy for either parent! Establishing a good latch and supply can take a fair amount of sweat and tears. For us, most of those were from my wife, and as a bystander sometimes I felt a bit helpless. I did find that just a few simple words of encouragement went a long way. “I appreciate what you’re doing for our baby,” can convey a lot, especially when it doesn’t feel like things are going well.

One thing I did that was less helpful was to try to fix the latch. Standing over them and repeating, “Lead with the chin!” got old fast. What was more helpful was connecting her with resources, like DeKalb Medical’s nursing class on Thursday mornings and chatting with our own experienced nurses. Offering formula to a mom who wanted to exclusively breastfeed when it was not medically necessary also wasn’t helpful. That said, if supplementing is part of the plan, then a night of formula bottles to give your partner her first decent night’s sleep in who-knows-how-long is a really good idea!  Your partner will let you know what she needs.

What was helpful was doing the dishes. It wasn’t very glorious, but between pumping and nursing and trying to get just a little bit of sleep, the nursing mother doesn’t really have much free time left. I did have more time, especially when the baby was occupied by nursing, and getting all the little things done around the house did help everyone’s day go more smoothly.

Perhaps most importantly, find moments to enjoy! Breastfeeding is just one of the many ways that a baby bonds with its parents. While dads might not make the milk, skin-to-skin time is still a powerful and wonderful way to be close to your baby. Every minute you spend with your baby is time baby is getting to know you, and time that your partner can use for a bath! Taking baby out on a walk can be a great escape for the whole household, especially when that bath is happening. Babies grow fast, and each week felt a little easier than the one before it, and before you know it you are writing blogs about it!

Thanks for reading, and please let me know if there is anything specific you would like to hear about.

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