Supporting Breastfeeding

La Leche League Canada

The Fatherly Art of Parenthood

on June 15, 2015

By Graeme Hendry in La Leche League International’s Breastfeeding Today.

At the age of 40, having children had never featured in my plans, but now I’d changed that view and fatherhood was soon to become a reality.  In the months before Maya was born, I never once thought that bonding with her would be a problem and I was right, it wasn’t.

The anticipation grew ever more intense as the weeks and months passed.  My partner, Vicky, and I talked about how we thought we’d be as parents.  I imagined myself being very involved, available and keen to have fun.  As far as breastfeeding was concerned, I’d seen my youngest sister, Debbie, breastfeeding her newborn for a short time, many years before, and, at the time, I thought it was the most natural thing in the world.  Vicky was keen to breastfeed.

When Maya was born, holding her in my arms for the first time felt natural and right, but there was also a sense of anxiety:  what do we do now?  Vicky breastfed from day one.  Far from feeling left out, I saw it as my role to enable Vicky and Maya to do this with minimal distraction and maximum comfort.  Arranging the cushions, keeping mom supplied with water, food, music, books, foot rubs, keeping the house in some semblance of order, fielding the phone calls – all that helped to create an environment in which Vicky and Maya could immerse themselves in comfort.  I never for one moment felt shut out or disengaged.

Fathers

One spring morning, when Maya was just a few months old, I placed her in a sling and walked to the park, just the two of us.  Keeping a mantra-like rhythm to my steps as we sailed round and round the tree-lined paths in the sunshine, I remember feeling enormously proud and incredibly protective.  Our trips to the park became a regular event.

During the night time, when Maya found it difficult to settle and Vicky was exhausted, I would carry Maya down to the kitchen, hold her close and dance to the strains of Newton Faulkner for hours – she seemed to enjoy Newton – returning to bed once she’d settled.  And it was to a shared bed we returned.  I felt that for us to be close during the day but separate at night would be bizarre.

I was working full time (37.5 hours) condensed into three days a week, so had plenty of time to be with Maya at home.  As she grew, I continued to carry her in the sling, sing, play and generally have fun. Looking back it can easily appear like a hazy dream but, in reality, it was often difficult in many ways, not least coping with the momentous, irrevocable changes that parenthood brings.  But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Dad Care

Today, at three years old, Maya is a bright, happy, confident little person with whom I share a close bond.  We continue to spend a great deal of time together.  Vicky now works part time, so I have two whole days to spend alone with Maya.  We take our days together as they come, with little or no agenda to speak of, and have fun, maintaining the bond I know we are very lucky to have.

I think that for dads (and indeed moms too) the key to forming and maintaining a close bond is rooted in simplicity.  It doesn’t come through the material, i.e., money, toys and all that stuff.  It comes through closeness, sharing, listening and just being there with your little one.  This is always available, right now and it’s free.  We’re now expecting another baby and that anticipation is starting to grow again!

Helpful books:

Becoming a Father by William Sears addresses the joys and problems of parenthood from the male perspective.

Fatherwise  by A. Bolster.  This book offers practical, nurturing wisdom for new fathers, and tips from new and experienced fathers are compiled to encourage a strong bond between a father and his child.   Available via lllc.ca.

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by LLLI.  Available via lllc.ca.

This article is from Breastfeeding Today magazine, used with permission.

If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to an accredited La Leche League Leader.  In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking http://www.lllc.ca/find-group or Internationally http://www.llli.org/

 

If you have found this article helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support in the form of a donation at http://www.lllc.ca/ so we can continue to help others breastfeed. Thank you!

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