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Celebrate the Father's Important Role in Supporting His Wife in Her Choice of Breastfeeding Their Baby

As Father's Day approaches in the United States, it is important to celebrate the role fathers play in the lives of their breastfed children. While it is fairly well known that breastfeeding has positive lifelong effects on the health of both baby and mother, the benefits to the father of having a breastfed baby are also worth talking about.

Fathers of breastfed babies save time and money, can get more rest, and experience a healthier and calmer household. The entire family saves money when the infant is breastfed. Formula, bottles, and other feeding paraphernalia are costly. Additional savings come from the greatly reduced illnesses and hospitalizations of breastfed babies. Studies show that employed mothers who are breastfeeding report a 27% decrease in absenteeism and a 36% decrease in health care costs.

Fathers whose infants are breastfed receive more rest since they don't have to get up at night to prepare formula or feed the baby. There are no emergency trips to the store to purchase artificial baby milk , and in the case of a power outage there is no fear that the infant's food supply will be unavailable. There is no need to dispose of formula cans and bottles.

Mothers of breastfed infants lose weight more easily than bottle-feeding mothers. One study showed that breastfeeding mothers had lost more weight without dieting by the time their babies were six months old than a comparable group of bottle-feeding mothers who had been eating less. Mothers who are breastfeeding also benefit from the calming affect of prolactin, the milk-making hormone, which can help them more readily cope with whatever comes along.

Breastfed babies are easy to travel with since they are so portable. With no bottles or other food supplies to worry about, mother and father can take a supply of clothes and diapers and they are on their way. New parents are often surprised at how easy it is to discreetly breastfeed in public.

Some fathers worry about feeling left out if they are not needed to feed the baby; however, there are many ways for fathers to interact with their babies besides feeding. Dads can easily bond with the baby by singing, rocking, and cuddling as well as burping, diaper changing and giving the baby a bath. Babies love to be held in the strong arms of their father and enjoy the deeper voice when their father speaks or sings to them.

Fathers are also terrific at providing support to the breastfeeding mother whether it is bringing the hungry baby to the mother or simply by being supportive of her decision. In fact, research indicates that a mother most often makes the decision to breastfeed early in her pregnancy and that the father's attitude toward the infant's breastfeeding is pivotal and greatly influences her decision. In fact, a recent article in the Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Neonatal Nursing states that "support from the mother's partner or a nonprofessional greatly increases the likelihood of positive breastfeeding behaviors." This may be the most important support of all.

If you would like more information about breastfeeding or would like to locate a La Leche League Group in your area, visit La Leche League International at llli.org or call 1-847-519-7730. La Leche League International, one of the world's leading authority on breastfeeding, is a nonprofit organization founded in 1956 by seven women who wanted to help other mothers learn about breastfeeding. Today La Leche League is an international organization, with mother-to-mother support Groups in countries all around the world.

Resurces:

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding New 8th Edition, by LLLI – is a national bestselling guide retooled, refocused, and updated for today’s mothers and lifestyles. Real–mom wisdom, expert information, and proven strategies for breastfeeding at every stage.

Fatherwise, by Alice Bolster offers practical, nurturing wisdom for new fathers. Written in an easy-to-read format, tips from new and experienced fathers are compiled to encourage a strong bond between a father and his child.

Schaumburg, IL (2002) updated 2011

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