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Being a new dad: fathers and breastfeeding support

This article provides breastfeeding info for dads, including how to support your partner emotionally and practically with breastfeeding and your role with formula feeding.

This article covers the following subjects related to fathers and breastfeeding:
Dad's role in supporting breastfeeding
Dad's role with formula feeding
Further information

Before your baby is born both you and your partner will probably have discussed and decided how to feed your baby. Your choice is either to breastfeed or formula feed or a mixture of both.

Dad's role in supporting breastfeeding

With breastfeeding, parents do have different roles to play and it can take a while to get used to this. As a dad you may feel jealous or left out, especially as mum and baby can have a very close relationship. Remember, breastfeeding is only one aspect of caring for your baby in the early days, and you can still play an active role in many other ways.

Although breastfeeding is a natural process, it can take time for new mums to learn this new skill and feel comfortable with breastfeeding their baby. A woman is more likely to choose to breastfeed if she’s sure her partner is positive about it and the support of fathers has been shown to be an important factor in enabling mums to breastfeed for longer. There are many ways you can support your partner throughout this time. For example,

  • Boost your partner’s confidence by encouraging her and being positive about her progress.
  • Assist by bottle feeding your baby expressed milk once breastfeeding has been established if you decide to use bottles.
  • Be involved with your baby in other ways so that caring is shared.
  • Women don’t need to eat anything special while breastfeeding, but it’s a good idea to encourage your partner to eat and drink regularly.
  • Get specialist help if there is a difficulty with breastfeeding. You can both talk to one of NCT’s breastfeeding counsellors on 0300 330 0700.
  • Reduce the household chores your partner has to do to allow more time for feeding.
  • Accept her decision on when to stop breastfeeding.

With your support, breastfeeding can quickly become a natural part of your family life. Breastfeeding in public places can also be done quite discreetly with clothes that pull up rather than open down the front, or with the use of a shawl or scarf. Besides, it becomes quite normal once you are used to it at home.

Dad's role with formula feeding

Some parents opt to feed their baby with a mixture of breast and formula milk, or exclusively with formula. It is important to be fully informed about the choice you make as it has health implications for both mum and baby.

With formula feeding compared to breastfeeding, there is more preparation involved, such as boiling and cooling water, sterilising equipment and measuring the powder, as well as making sure you have everything with you when you go anywhere. However, dads can get involved with both the preparation as well as feeding baby from the bottle.

Further information

NCT supports all parents, however they feed their baby. If you have questions, concerns or need support, you can speak to a breastfeeding counsellor by calling our helpline on 0300 330 0700, whether you are exclusively breastfeeding or using formula milk. Breastfeeding counsellors have had extensive training, will listen without judging or criticising and will offer relevant information and suggestions. You can also find more useful articles here.

National Breastfeeding Line (government funded): 0300 100 021.