Breastfeeding support for men

17 January 2006

Why I chose to do La Leche training, by Gordon Mitchell –

At first, when my wife was offered a chance to be part of a breastfeeding support group, I suppose I could say I was a little jealous, as there didn’t seem to be anything around for dads and their kids, but plenty for mums. I suppose this was due to the area I live in, the dads go and do the work whilst the women stop at home and look after the kids and do the cooking and cleaning etc. After my wife had completed her training, (now known as BOBs, Babes On Boobs Support) and another group was run, a couple of dads, including myself were asked if we wanted to do a dads version of the La Leche training.

This small group of dads (known as DOBs, dads On Board) were going to have a specially formulated version lasting six weeks as opposed to the 12 weeks the mums do, this being that some of the training package was not appropriate to what we needed. Initially, there were going to be three of us doing this pioneering, first in the UK training, but unfortunately two of them couldn’t make it due to work commitments, which left me on my own with the trainers, Cathy, Janice and Ali, who are part of the Sure Start programme for Athersley, New Lodge and Smithies in Barnsley. So really, without those three committed and passionate people, neither BOBs or DOBs would really have existed, so my thanks go out to them.

We started the training in September. The training consisted of some of the same things that the mums’ version covered, but not in as much detail. The primary objective for the DOBs was to give us the training to enable us to give support and advice to partners of breastfeeding mums. We covered things such as beliefs, barriers to breastfeeding, the benefits of breastfeeding and how men can reduce the barriers of breastfeeding. Whilst training, we also covered the basic anatomy and physiology of the breast, which gave us a better understanding of what, how, why and when. During the course, I also learned some facts about the human milk, such as this: within the first 24 hours, a 37ml measure of formula milk carries the same nutritional value as just 7ml of breast milk, a rather noticeable difference. Also, I didn’t know that a baby’s stomach is only as big as its clenched fist. All this seemed a little irrelevant at first, but I found could be vital little facts when I am giving support, for example “my baby isn’t having much at each feed”. This could be due to the size of the baby’s stomach. As long as the baby is feeding regularly and doesn’t seem poorly, this is quite normal.

Now I have finished my training, I have been given the opportunity to do the administrators training which will qualify me to present the training package to other dads that would be interested in learning what I have, and hopeful help partners of breastfeeding mums. So, there is now something out there for dads to get involved in as well.