I want to be that mother who can stand up and say I am a strong confident mother and I know what is best for my children. We breastfeed and co sleep, We listen, We include, We eat chocolate and snot smoothies, we trampoline and grow frogs, we sling, we carry and we try and understand and work with our children without resorting to punishments, threats or coercion.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Why 'the father needs to bond too' is a dangerous concept.

It really infuriates me when people tell new breastfeeding mothers that they should let their partner do some feeding with a bottle because otherwise the father will not be able to bond with his baby.

The mother-baby breastfeeding dyad is vitally important not only for nutrition but also for bonding and establishing breastfeeding.  In the beginning, it really needs to be ALL about the mother and the baby and any interference in this can create difficulties with breastfeeding, such as loss of supply, engorgement etc. especially if the breastfeeding relationship is interrupted during the night.  This is when the prolactin is made, which helps more milk to be produced.  Feeding your baby during the night is JUST as important as feeding during the day (in the early months).  In fact for a baby there is NO difference.  They don't follow clocks, they follow their tummies

Saying that giving the baby milk is the only way a father can bond with his baby is SO damaging for the breastfeeding relationship and the initial bonding experience for the mother (which is paramount).  It is also ridiculous.  There are plenty of ways a father can bond with his baby and really in the beginning, he should be doing all he can to help his partner to bond with the baby and to establish breastfeeding.  

He should be comforting and supporting his partner to achieve this essential goal.  Fathers can change nappies, hold their baby skin to skin, they can hold the baby whilst the mother pees, showers, eats etc. Fathers can sort the other children, the house, etc. They can bathe or shower with their baby. They can sling their baby and go for a walk and let their partner rest. 

There are SO many things a father can do to bond that does not disrupt the breastfeeding dyad. If the mother is not breastfeeding then he should be helping to make the formula bottles up to give to the mother, so she can be holding her baby, bonding and then feeding her baby.

"Bonding is really a continuation of the relationship that began during pregnancy. The physical and chemical changes that were occurring in your body reminded you of the presence of this person. Birth cements this bond and gives it reality. Now you can see, feel, and talk to the little person whom you knew only as the "bulge" or from the movements and the heartbeat you heard through medical instruments. Bonding allows you to transfer your life-giving love for the infant inside to caregiving love on the outside. Inside, you gave your blood; outside, you give your milk, eyes, hands, and voice--your entire self.

Bonding brings mothers and newborns back together. Bonding studies provided the catalyst for family-oriented birthing policies in hospitals. It brought babies out of nurseries to room-in with their mothers. Bonding research reaffirmed the importance of the mother as the newborn's primary caregiver" Dr Sears Bonding With your Newborn

The mother-baby bond is crucial in so many ways and suggesting its interrupted just so the father can give a bottle and bond creates MANY of the breastfeeding difficulties and post partum depression problems that many women face.  It really isn't about him. He needs to realise that and deal with his own issues, of feeling unable to bond, in other ways because it is damaging to a woman's important role as primary carer.  He will get his opportunity.  

Right now, for a newborn, in the beginning, it is ALL about the mother and he NEEDS to find ways to support that.

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