“Breastfeeding sponsor. » Although we are very interested in subjects that directly or indirectly affect the family, we had never heard this expression before receiving the email from Steve A. Côté, volunteer at Nourri-Source Estrie and first sponsor of breastfeeding in the region.

No, contrary to what its title might suggest, it does not advise breastfeeding women, despite the fact that it has received the same training as breastfeeding sponsors. It is aimed at new fathers.

Not all men are necessarily lucky enough to have friends with children who they can turn to if they have questions following the birth of their baby, emphasizes the man who was the first dad in his gang. The breastfeeding sponsor is there to listen and answer fathers’ questions about the baby’s feedings, but also, more broadly, about their new role as dad.

“They need to be reassured and heard,” says Steve A. Côté, about the men who consulted him.

Father of four children aged 12, 11, 2 and 2 months, the volunteer is “excited” about the perinatal period. During the interview, he speaks enthusiastically about the moments spent carrying his baby or the “cocktail of hormones” felt by women, but also by men following the arrival of a new baby. born in the family.

Wishing to support other fathers so that they too experience a harmonious perinatal period, the father who also works for an organization working with men heading single-parent families completed the Nourri-Source Estrie volunteer form. He was pleasantly surprised when the organization called him back.

If Nourri-Source Estrie added this service to its offering, it is in particular to help fathers navigate the numerous information circulating on breastfeeding, indicates its general director Anne-Marie Aumond. In the Nourri-Source forum on Facebook, which has more than 25,000 members, many mothers report that they and their partners do not agree on the subject.

“Their partner was told by a colleague or his mother: ‘Your wife should not breastfeed at night,’ or things like that. This always creates conflicts in couples, because the father does not have factual information. It’s more hearsay, people’s opinions. Offering a service to inform the father and allow him to ask his questions […] helps the couple to better harmonize on breastfeeding,” argues Anne-Marie Aumond.

Launched about two months ago, the telephone support service is still in its infancy. For the moment, Steve A. Côté has only spoken with two referrals. Is it because men don’t need such a service? Steve A. Côté thinks that, for the moment, it’s because the offer is not well-known.

However, he notes that many men are hesitant to seek help. “It’s a tough road to take,” he illustrates. “There are dads who will have to ask for help, but there are also health network workers who will have to dare to talk about the service.”

According to him, some professionals take it for granted that fathers will not turn to a breastfeeding sponsor. They therefore do not pass on the information to them even if they have the opportunity.

However, Steve A. Côté strongly believes in the benefits that discussions between fathers can bring, whether on breastfeeding or any other subject affecting perinatal life. “With breastfeeding, the dad’s task is to listen to the mom, to be attentive to her needs, to be present for her. […] When she is exhausted, fed up, when things are not working and she even becomes angry or sad, you have to take the time to listen to her. This is our role as partners,” says the volunteer, who believes that fathers also need a space to talk about what they are going through, the joys as well as the more difficult moments.

“Sometimes fathers have difficulty finding their role when the mother is breastfeeding. Talking about it with another father who has experienced the same situation can help him take his place in the new family life,” says Julie Richard, general director of the Nourri-Source Federation, which has just launched a platform to facilitate matching between breastfeeding godmothers (and godfathers) and parents.

Nourri-Source Estrie is not the only regional division of the Federation to support fathers.

Nourri-Source Laurentides has been offering telephone twinning since 2021 thanks to the mobilization of a committee of volunteer fathers. So far, only seven dads have benefited from the service, but it has made a significant difference for them, says Alexia Thibault, general director of Nourri-Source Laurentides.

In its communications, her organization places great emphasis on the importance of fathers (or co-parents) throughout the breastfeeding period. She also notices an increased presence of companions during breastfeeding stops or meetings with lactation consultants.

Steve A. Côté understands that some fathers may feel helpless when their partner is breastfeeding. After all, they cannot breastfeed their baby themselves. However, he is convinced that every father benefits from being involved in the life of his newborn. Thanks to Nourri-Source Estrie, he also hosts three monthly workshops for fathers, including one online accessible through the Nourri-Source Estrie Facebook page. He plans to address various topics such as babywearing, educational games, skin-to-skin contact, etc. “It’s a circle of support for dads,” he summarizes.