Dear Mr. Dad,
Everyone says that new mothers should breastfeed their babies but I've never really know why. And, I know this sounds nuts, but is there anything I can to do to stay involved while my wife is nursing? I feel so left out.
Before their babies are born, just about any expectant father you'd ask would say that breastfeeding is the best way to feed a baby and that his partner should nurse their child for as long as possible. And why not, just consider some of these advantages:
* Diapers don't stink -- breastfed babies produce stool that smells almost sweet -- especially when you compare it to the formula-fed kind.
After the baby comes, though, a lot of new fathers have a change of heart. It's not that they don't support breastfeeding -- they still think it's the best thing for everyone concerned. It's just that the whole thing makes them feel left out.
Breastfeeding "perpetuates the exclusive relationship the mother and infant experienced during pregnancy," writes Dr. Pamela Jordan, one of the few researchers ever to explore the effects of breastfeeding on men. As a result, it's pretty common for new breastfeeding-spectator fathers to feel some or all of the following:
Studies of new and expectant parents show that they consider feeding to be the most important aspect of caring for an infant. And there's no question that if your partner is breastfeeding you're at a bit of a disadvantage in that regard. But just because she's got control of the breasts and the food that's in them doesn't mean that you have to back off. There are a number of ways you can get involved in the process and help make breastfeeding as pleasant an experience as possible for everyone:
-- "Mr. Dad"
A nationally recognized parenting expert, Armin Brott is the bestselling author of The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips and Advice for Dads-To-Be, The New Father: A Dad's Guide to the First Year, Fathering Your Toddler, The Military Father: A Hands-on Guide for Deployed Dads, and four other books on fatherhood. He has written on parenting, fatherhood, and health for the New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, Newsweek, and dozens of other periodicals. He also hosts "Positive Parenting," which airs on a dozen stations in the US and worldwide on the American Forces Network. Armin lives with his family in Oakland, California. You may visit his website at mrdad.com to learn more.