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Quebec father helps dads navigate their families' breastfeeding journeys

A mother breastfeeds her baby. (Credit: Анастасия Войтко/ A mother breastfeeds her baby. (Credit: Анастасия Войтко/

While some people help out at soup kitchens or homeless shelters, father of two Mathieu Boutet spends his free time volunteering as a breastfeeding support peer.

It may sound a little unusual, but the Mirabel resident explains that fathers often feel lost as to what role they play in their newborn's initial development.

"I try to show them that there are many ways to bond with their child," he explains. "Dads have lots of questions about breastfeeding...How am I going to bond with my child if I can't feed them?"

As a father to Florence, 9, and Antoine, 6, Boutet says he knows first-hand the difficulties that arise once a baby is born.

"I suggest ways for future fathers to get involved before and during childbirth, but also once the baby has arrived," he said. "Fathers play a very important role in breastfeeding. They can encourage and support their wife, help with latching and comfort, prepare what mom needs to breastfeed; the list goes on."

Boutet started working as a father volunteer with Nourri-Source in the Laurentians two and a half years ago -- the only man in the network to this day.

He says his wife, Emilie, who also volunteers as a breastfeeding support peer, introduced him to the idea.

"Nourri-Source Laurentians wanted to recruit fathers with breastfeeding experience for this new service," Boutet said. "I found this approach very interesting, and so, I agreed to become a father volunteer."

Father of two Mathieu Boutet is a breastfeeding support peer. (Courtesy: Mathieu Boutet)

He says he offers guidance, mainly over the phone, to men "who are finding their place as fathers in breastfeeding."

Now, Boutet is working with Nourri-Source to expand its father support network, actively trying to recruit dads to be part of the program.

"To future and new dads, I say that breastfeeding is a learning moment for mom, baby and dad," Boutet notes. "We don't have all the answers, and often we can feel at a loss, but trust yourself."

The best way for a couple to get through those early stages?

"Talk to your partner about your questions and concerns," he encourages. "Communication is important. It's the key."

Boutet is also a member of Nourri-Source's 'Papa' committee and volunteers in prenatal workshops.

"I talk to fathers about the service. I tell them that by being a father volunteer, you can make a difference for others using our services," he said. "It's important to include fathers who have experienced diverse breastfeeding experiences."

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