by Kathlynn Roysdon
One of the biggest booby traps a breastfeeding mother faces is an unsupportive spouse or partner. What's a girl to do when her partner thinks that breastfeeding just plain sucks? While it's easy to get defensive about your right to breastfeed (and rightfully so), handling this situation with a gentle hand and a bit of finesse makes all the difference achieving your long-term goals.
Find out first out why they feel that way. Is something specific bothering them or is it just something they've heard from friends? An open conversation with your spouse or partner can make the whole idea of breastfeeding real and help them feel like part of the decision. Don't attack them or get defensive. Simply listen and share how you think these concerns can be solved.
Here are the most common protests dads raise when they don't want mothers to breastfeed and a few easy but effective rebuttals!
If you breastfeed then you'll get all the attention and I won't be able to feed bottles! Everyone knows that the baby likes the person who feeds it more.
This is a big concern for new dads, especially younger dads expecting their first baby. In today's society we focus attention on feeding time for babies and forget all about the other important chances for interaction. Suggesting that daddy be in charge of burping can be a great diversion from this complaint. Let them know that dad's hands are bigger and therefore better at burping so he is better built for the job. Also, reminding him that there is bath time, bed time snuggles, reading time and song time. Not all affection is given through feeding times. Before long dad will be able to find his niche.
Boobs were made for sex. If you breastfeed then I'll never get to touch them again.
While this can be an important reason for many men, it's also a worry to many new moms. It is true that breast will be engorged and possibly tender for a week or so. There's no medical reason you can't have sex or that he cant touch your breast. It's also important to remind him that while boobs are looked at as sexual objects it really isn’t what they were “made” for. Women's breasts were made to breastfeed and there are lots of things that happen for mom during the breastfeeding process. Most importantly is that breastfeeding stimutlates uteran contractions after delivery. This helps mom's uterus get back to its normal size faster and decreases postpartum bleeding. Another key factor is that the body releases prolactin and oxytocin hormones which help to relax moms, and what new mom doesn’t want a bit of relaxation?
Breastfeeding isn't that important, is it?
Many moms spend the month leading up to their delivery reading about motherhood. Quite a few, myself included, have already read at least one book about your baby's first year and the benefits of breastfeeding for both baby and mom before the first signs of labor. Did you know dad benefits, too?
- He won't have to get up at 2 a.m. to make a bottle because everything is ready and waiting -- no water to heat, bottles to find or mixing required.
- Breastfed infant's diapers smell better than those of formula fed babies. That means no gag-inducing experiences with your new pride and joy!
- Breastfeeding is less expensive; the average yearly cost for formula feeding is $1500 for formula and feeding accessories. Breastfed babies visit the doctor less often leading to a savings as well. That's money you can bank or use to do something fun together as a family!
To maintain a calm household those first rough weeks, you and your partner should be able to share your concerns and opinions with one another without harsh judgments or personal attacks. Building a successful team partnership enhances your ability to listen and ultimately consider what's best for the baby.
If you find that your spouse or partner is still hesitant, work together to set small goals just as you would for yourself. Let them know that you'll give it a go for a few weeks and then re-evaluate as you complete your goals. Most dads settle into the routine rather quickly and soon become avid breastfeeding supporters.
Kathlynn Roysdon is a Certified Lacatation Educator Counselor and recently completed the UCSD Lactation Consultant certificate program. She's mom to a 2 1/2-year-old with another on the way. You'll find her around the groups on Pregnancy.org where she hosts "Everything Breastfeeding" and "February 2009!"
Copyright © Kathlynn Roysdon. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org.