What One Dad Thinks About Breastfeeding
Are fathers allowed to have an opinion on breastfeeding?
While it isn't their bodies and time involved in the direct action itself, I find it vital to include my partner in the conversation. We both agree it's a woman's choice at the end of the day, but if moms need more societal support for breastfeeding, we do have to involve more than just women in the conversation. We are also breastfeeding boys, after all.
I decided to once again interview my partner with some key questions to hear and share his perspective.
Let's address the question I use to open this article. Do you feel men and/or fathers have a say in breastfeeding? Why or why not?
Yes, in some way. I feel a man may be lost if he isn't encouraging breastfeeding if it can be done. Why wouldn't you want your child to experience the natural benefits of breast milk?
I don't have to look too far back in my past to see that bottle-feeding isn't the norm. I believe fathers should be learning how to make space for mothers to figure out how to breastfeed, at least for the first few months until she finds her rhythm.
Breastfeeding is a divine way to connect mother and child. I can see the bond my son has with you, and I don't believe a bottle can compare with the art of breastfeeding. I can tell there’s a difference from experience.
It’s our responsibility as men and fathers to honor the mother and educate ourselves. If we know what needs to be done, we should encourage it.
What did you understand about breastfeeding before becoming a parent?
I thought it was just a way of feeding a child. I was naive of the cause and effect until I experienced it myself. I didn't know it was about more than just a baby drinking or eating.
What are some key things you learned on the journey to fatherhood about breastfeeding?
One, breastfeeding is a form of communication between mother and child. I believe this helps a woman become a more aware mother of her child’s needs.
Two, it's a challenge to breastfeed! There are days our son just wants to suck, not to drink, but to just bond with you. It can be time-consuming.
Three, in a deep sense, I think breastfeeding can also help parents understand the personality and development of a child. There's a difference between the physical attachment of breastfeeding and the less personal approach of a bottle. My nephew used to bite my sister's nipple, for example, because he was often frustrated due to some family issues. Our son sometimes plays with your nipple because he's inquisitive. It’s probably also very soothing!
Fourth, a lot of firsts also happen while breastfeeding, like smiling, intentional touches, and even reaching for the breast.
And fifth, it’s not all about the baby. The mother needs to be verbally, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually nurtured. I have to shoulder certain chores, for example, especially if our son needs to be fed.
What do you want other fathers and men to know about breastfeeding?
It’s essential. It's a beautiful experience to be close to a mom and seeing her feed your child using her own body. Look for personal blockages on your mindset so you can embrace the feminine for what it is: powerful. Breastfeeding is divine.
Focus on health, men. Health is a huge part of life, especially when breastfeeding. Take the lead here. Research about foods and make meals accordingly. I cooked, but I didn’t do as much research as I could about what foods can help or hinder breastmilk production.
And stay flexible. Don't get too lost in your wants because you choose this path of fatherhood. Examine your time-wasting distractions and use that time now to study yourself so you can lead and provide support.
As a man, what are ways to support women who choose to breastfeed?
Encourage women by letting them know the importance of being a mom and breastfeeding.
Personally, you also need to crush your ego down to a humble size. When our baby was getting all the attention, it wasn't beneficial for me to make you feel bad about splitting yourself between us three when you already feel like you do. I had to be patient.
Also, the more I gave you what you needed, the more I gained the confidence to say what I needed, too. Men and fathers must recognize the role of moms and themselves as dads. It can be as simple as repeatedly letting mom know you understand what she's doing. Action beats words, so back that up by helping out and not adding stress. For example, I was terrified you wouldn't have enough milk, too. Our midwife said not to put my fears on you, so I never said anything (until today).
Any additional thoughts or comments about breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding is a beautiful experience to witness!
I learned how to be more respectful of women, too. Honestly, I don't sexualize women for breastfeeding anymore because I understand what comes with it. Your mind matures as you understand it's a natural process.
I know for me, breastfeeding is easier because of my partner’s support. We both made communication mistakes along the way, so we aren’t perfect. His answers were cultivated over time with lots of reflection learned from making mistakes. There was a phase of resistance as we adjusted, but once my partner saw more of the dedication and work that went into breastfeeding, he was able to mature and provide more assistance.
I hope this helps a few moms and dads out there. Be patient and be kind. It’ll take time, but remember to assume best intentions and communicate not just fears but also hopes and speak from the heart.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Nadia Rumbolt
Nadia Rumbolt is a mom of many trades, including creative writing, blogging, van life, minimalism, veganism, the beach, nature, and the occult.