A common concern for many new parents how how can dad/partner/granny/grandad/brother/sister/uncle/postman bond with the baby. It comes up A LOT so it must be on the minds of many new parents.
Apparently word has spread that the only way to bond with a baby is to feed them (I'm sure the formula industry spread this rumour, but that's just my guess). Feeding is definitely a bonding experience, but then why are there so many products on the market that help babies to hold their own bottles. I often see bottles propped with a towel and babies being bottlefed in buggies and bouncy seats. If bottle feeding is such a bonding experience and so important for bonding then why are babies being taught to do it for themselves and left unattended while doing it (choking hazard!). What I love about breastfeeding is that I have to be present. I can't give it a miss today or go into another room while it's going on. I admit it, I'm quite lazy. I have a short attention span, I google while nursing but I am present, and we have some amazing "conversations" when breastfeeding (not real conversations, she has her mouth full and can't talk yet) we also have lots of snuggle time.
I think that feeding can get a little tiresome after a while (hence the propped bottles), but Dad gets to do all the fun things with baby while we wash laundry and cook dinner. When my son turned two he forgot I even existed and became a real Daddies Boy. Nursing became something we did just before bed/nap or during the day when Dad wasn't around. When he falls over he doesn't ask for me. When he wakes in the night he doesn't ask for me. We do have our very own special bond, but I don't think that Daddy has missed out by not having bottlefed him as an infant.
Anyway, as you can tell I'm in the "Daddy doesn't have to feed baby to have a bond with baby" camp but here are some suggestions for Daddy/Baby bonding time -
- Wear baby to help soothe and sleep
- Skin-to-skin contact in the hospital and at home
- Rock baby to sleep
- Bathe baby
- Sing to baby
- Play with baby
- Take baby to a baby class
- Take baby on a walk
As baby grows older you will both create such important but such different bonds with your baby/child that you will forget even worrying about it at the beginning.
I asked my husband if he minded that I did all the feeding after we had our second (Ellie). We had no feeding problems with Ellie and his response was that he loved to boast to his friends that he was getting tonnes of sleep because he didn't have to get up in the night. We bed-shared and I nursed lying down so Ellie nursed and slept without a sound all night long. He never mentioned a problem with bonding, in fact they both light up when he enters the room each evening after work and there is no denying that they love each other to pieces.
I actually wonder whether it is the Mum who wants Dad to feed the baby because breastfeeding can seem overwhelming at first. It is an enormous responsability for one person, and it can sometimes seem that it is all you do some days. I remember those early days when I spent all day on the couch nursing and dozing (don't tell the health visitor) and watching Dexter on the laptop changing episodes with my big toe. My husband would come through the door and I would throw William into his arms and run (more hobble) up the stairs to pee.
My words of wisdom - Your baby is only tiny for a very short amount of time and it will fly by. Breastfeeding is really important and it will take time to master and it will be time consuming at first, but before you know it your baby will be feeding faster and sleeping longer and you'll wonder why you were even worried in the first place. Take these first few precious months, take a seat and feed your baby.
The first few weeks are going to fly by and you are going to be busy feeding and healing and getting to know your baby (not to mention the dirty nappies that Dad will be changing). It can be hard to get out of the house for errands that don't involve family, breastfeeding support groups or Doctor visits. Invest a little money in some great value nursing bras that will help you through this transitional time from pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. Transitional nursing bras can accomodate small changes in cup size so that when your milk volume increases after birth you won't need to think about which nursing bra to wear. They are also seamless and super comfy to sleep in and wear all day long. Because they can accomodate small changes in size they only come in a few sizes and are easy to fit too from bands 32-44 and cups A-H. Check out these Nursing Sleep Bras from BoobieMilk starting at just £10.