August marks National Breastfeeding Awareness Month. Despite the benefits, only 40 percent of the world’s infants are exclusively breastfed during the critical first six months of life. This lack of investment in breastfeeding results in an estimated 236,000 child deaths per year and $119 billion in economic losses. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), if 90 percent of US families breastfed exclusively for six months, the United States would save $13 billion per year and nearly 1,000 deaths among infants could be prevented. Breastfeeding is one of the best investments nations can make in the lives and futures of their young generation, and in the long-term strength of their societies.
What about Dad? Breastfeeding is a joint decision between mothers and fathers. It is important for both to feel good about breastfeeding and share questions and concerns with each other. Many fathers say it makes no difference how mom chooses to feed their baby, until they learn the difference between breastmilk and formula. Once dads realize that breastmilk is the best option for their babies, they usually encourage moms to breastfeed. The first few weeks of breastfeeding are the most challenging. Moms are often exhausted and/or are having discomfort from childbirth. It is during this time that fathers can be most helpful. A few ways that dad can be involved and help support mom are:
- Diaper changing, bathing, rocking, and playing; human contact with dad is just as important as mom;
- Getting mom something to drink or eat while she is breastfeeding;
- Taking over child care between breastfeeding times so mom can get some rest;
- Grocery shopping and sharing in household chores; and
- Encouraging mom and reminding her how the choice to breastfeed benefits the health of your baby.
Dads have many questions and concerns about their baby as well. Be a part of the well-baby checkups, and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) appointments; ask your questions. Some common concerns dads have may include:
Embarrassment: be proud of your partner for breastfeeding your baby. She can cover her breast while she is breastfeeding if she is uncomfortable. Buy her a nice blanket or a pretty breastfeeding blouse. Help her feel good about breastfeeding no matter where she is.
Discomfort: breastfeeding is natural and healthy, but it takes time, practice, and patience to breastfeed comfortably. Encourage your partner to talk to someone at WIC who can answer her questions and concerns about breastfeeding.
How much and how often should the baby be breastfed: Mom should breastfeed their baby about every 2 hours, or whenever the baby shows signs of hunger. The more she breastfeeds, the more breastmilk she makes. There is no limit to how much breastmilk a baby can have. Breastfeeding does not spoil a baby.
Not enough time: breastfeeding is convenient. Breastmilk is always the right temperature and ready to serve. A mother just has to relax and cuddle the baby. If there are other children in the house, dad can help take care of them.
Going back to Work or School: your partner may have to go back to work or school soon after she has the baby, and may be afraid she cannot continue to breastfeed. Encourage her to talk to a WIC breastfeeding counselor about how to collect and store breastmilk. Carson City Health and Human Services is assisting employers with providing a safe, clean environment for breastfeeding employees and customers to use to breastfeed or express breastmilk.
Carson City Health and Human Services (CCHHS) manages two Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) clinics in Carson City and Gardnerville. WIC is a supplemental nutrition and education program helping income eligible pregnant and post-partum moms, infants, and children up to the age of five. For more information, please call your local WIC clinic.
Carson City Health & Human Services – WIC
900 E. Long St., Carson City
Clinic hours: Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon and 1:00 pm to 5 p.m.
Douglas County WIC
1329 Waterloo Lane, Gardnerville
On the South side of the Douglas County Community Center
Phone: 775-782-9038 ext 2
Clinic hours: Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. to 12 noon and 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m
Breastfeeding support and WIC services are just two areas Carson City Health and Human Services is here for the community. For additional information about services and programs available to you through CCHHS, please visit our website at gethealthycarsoncity.org, follow us on Facebook www.facebook.com/cchhs, or call us at (775) 887-2190. You can also find us at 900 East Long Street in Carson City.