Ah, the decision to breast or bottle feed your new baby. A quick online search, your child birthing class or a hospital tour will place the benefits of breast feeding directly in your face, to the point where the mother (and even the father) may feel shunned if they were to feed the baby formula.
I have no say what-so-ever about what mothers should do. I’ve experienced breast feeding from the side-lines, and I’ve seen the challenges and frustrations a new mother endures because of the sheer pressure to get her baby to ingest lactation. I’ve also seen the connection, love and peace that a new baby and mother can experience during a cohesive breastfeeding session.
And when I see that, jealousy occasionally surfaces because my nipples are useless. The contentment that comes from an infant feeding is something I long to provide, so I was humbled when I was able to give my almost three-week old daughter her first bottle of breast milk.
I love babies and kids. Maybe I’m not your stereotypical manly man. Maybe I’m just a dad who loves his God-given job. One of the things I love most about babies and kids is the sheer emphasis they have on what they are feeling or experiencing in that moment. When my four-year-old is upset, he is passionate. When his face lights up in accomplishment, the joy radiates throughout the room. And when the infant is feeding, I can feel the gratitude for the nourishment.
Being able to give my baby girl that gratitude filled my soul. After all I’m a guy, and I like to play the provider role. But holding her in that moment and nourishing her with mamma’s milk out of a bottle is the closest thing I’ll ever experience to breast feeding.
And now if you’ve chosen to bottle feed or maybe your partner has had difficulty with lactation, consider yourself lucky. Share the responsibility in being able to provide your baby the nourishment he or she needs.
I know a dad who takes pride in the fact that he was the one to get up throughout the night to give his new baby boy bottles.
This closeness, being able to provide and the gratitude given off from the baby is what I have to focus on because feeding is a lot of work. (A huge shout out to those mothers who are on the two hour around-the-clock feeding schedule.) Make sure the milk is just the right temperature. The appropriate nipple for the age of the baby needs to be on the bottle. Then there is holding the baby at the correct angle, making sure burping at the right times is executed properly, and that there isn’t too much or too little milk going in (although the baby is usually pretty good at telling you this).
And remember, through all the burp rags, Boppy pillows and diapers, you are communicating your commitment to your child. Even if you feed your baby just a few times per week in their early months of life, your baby connects with you as a father and is getting to know you, just as you are getting to know her.