What is the role of fathers in breastfeeding?

Before Jamir was born, my wife Nean and I did a lot of research on breastfeeding and its benefits to the mother and the baby.

We've even attended birth class and some breastfeeding talks to know more  about breastfeeding. We have asked a lot of experts, joined different breastfeeding groups, and learned from experienced moms as well.

Every day of her pregnancy seems to be a class semester and the final project is Jamir, our baby. We are excited to breastfeed Jamir and see how things work in an actual set up.

From the start, we already know that breastfeeding would never be easy and would not be a smooth-sailing journey for us. Then Jamir was born.

It was very challenging at first since Nean underwent CS operation. Adding to this challenge, what prepared for was different from what actually happened – Jamir was always crying, Nean coudn't move for the first 8 hours after her operation, the hospital staff were not supportive, among other things.

But because of our determination to give the best to Baby Jamir, we’ve coped up with the challenges easily; it eventually became rewarding: Breastfeeding is indeed a wonderful journey.

Unwavering support 

Labeled as the “significant other” or the "better half," a father plays a vital role in ensuring a successful breastfeeding journey. 

As Jamir and our journey turn one, let me share with other expectant-fathers the following not-so-secret tips, summed up in KASAMA (companion): 

K: Know the journey

Educate yourself. Do some readings and research. Attend breastfeeding symposiums. Absorb as much wisdom on breastfeeding as you can. Learn not only the basics; go into the details. Prepare your own breastfeeding glossary, if needed.

A: Actively involve yourself

Giving support isn't enough. Involve yourself in the journey. Our nipples might not feed our baby, but our active involvement is one of the most important factors that will determine breastfeeding success. 

In fact, a woman with a supportive spouse is more likely to breastfeed her baby longer than a woman with a husband who isn’t.

After all, it is a whole family journey – the mother as the main player, the father in a supporting role, and the baby as the beneficiary.

S: Shield your family from prejudices 

Breastfeeding is best not only for babies but for the whole family. But not everyone can appreciate its beauty. Protect your wife from discrimination and bigotry.

Don’t let others, even family members, humiliate or disrespect your wife because she is breastfeeding your child in public places. Don’t let others judge her capability to nurture your child.

She can breastfeed anytime it is needed and wherever she wants it. Remind critics that there are laws protecting the right of your family to breastfeed.

A: Always be positive 

Breastfeeding is certainly challenging. Growth spurts, colicky and clingy babies, engorged breasts, plugged ducts, cluster feeding, maternal depression, and a messy home – these are just few of the challenges you and your wife will face in your journey.

You must be the one to maintain the positive energy in your home. Don’t let negative vibes surround your family. Be affirmative to your goal.

Remember, breastfeeding challenges are natural. And it could be easily addressed by going back to the first tip – educate yourself.

When your wife feels tired and fed up, comfort her, remind her of your goal and purpose, boost her morale and push her to continue. Your encouragement is a great help. Your wife must get that positive reinforcement from you.

M: Make mommy happy 

A happy mommy means a happy baby. Always make your wife feel good. Tell her how awesome she's doing. Tell her that she is great and beautiful. It may be a small gesture but believe me, it will give her an assurance and the feeling of being extremely loved.

You may also do some house chores for her: cook and serve her food, put the baby to sleep, wash the baby's clothes, change the baby’s diaper. These acts express how much you love your wife and how you treasure the journey.

Also, stress can decrease milk supply.

 A: Aspire to be the best breastfeeding-supportive tatay

Remember, breastfeeding is not just about latching. It is a holistic family journey, and you are part of it. Be the best in providing what she needs – your unwavering support.

Share your journey with others to advance the advocacy. Convince them that  breastfeeding is also good for the community, the environment, and the economy.

As parents, you both have a share in making your baby feel extremely loved and cared for. If you have your family's best interests in mind, then you most probably can't go wrong. Happy Father's Day to my fellow fathers! – Rappler.com 

Jaime de Guzman is a 25-year-old father. He is a community relations officer at the National Housing Authority. He is also a member of the following support groups: Breastfeeding Pinays, Babywearing Philippines, Modern Cloth and Nappying Philippines, and Gentle Birth Philippines.