When Dads Should Have a Say in Breastfeeding Decisions

baby drinking bottle

Another day, and another post by a dad saying screw breastfeeding, we chose formula. Chris Kornelis, a music editor for Seattle Weekly, sounds like he had some pretty good reasons to throw in the towel. Er, I mean, to encourage his wife to throw in the towel. She really wanted to breastfeed but their baby had trouble latching, and it sounds like his wife wasn’t producing a lot of milk. They even worked with a lactation consultant. They’re weren’t getting enough sleep.

Finally, they went for the formula. And everything got better! Both parents got more sleep and Kornelis had an easier time bonding with his new son. Plus — they got to drop off the baby and work on their relationship. And that’s pretty much where Kornelis lost me. Should dads have a say on breastfeeding? Maybe the question is: are dads mature and unselfish enough to weigh in on that question?


Look, I know every family’s story is different. But these stories always make me think the same thing: Dads, for once this is not all about YOU. It’s about what works for your new child and what works for mom. You don’t come first in this scenario — sorry! And this is just the beginning of ways you’ll have to MAN THE HELL UP and put your needs/wants on the back burner for the best interests for the family. If dads can keep that foremost in their minds, I think it goes a long way towards helping a family make the right choice about breastfeeding.

As for working on your marriage, here’s what I think. There are many different ways to work on your marriage. They don’t all involve one-on-one date nights. Different moments in life call for different approaches. When you’re the throes of those newborn weeks, the best way for husbands to “work on their marriage” is to support their wives. Just make her comfortable, make sure she has everything she needs, make sure she feels loved no matter what. And remember this stage doesn’t last forever.

Women need time for those stitches and tears and stretches to heal. We need time to deal with the crazy hormones. The last thing we need is pressure to feed a grown man’s emotional and sexual needs. You can “work on your marriage” the FUN way in a few months. Wait your freakin’ turn, man. What’s more, there are many different ways dads can bond with their babies even if mom is breastfeeding. Convenient Daddy bonding shouldn’t take priority over breastfeeding.

So should dads have a say about breastfeeding? Sure … but only if their priorities are in order. It’s totally fair to say, “Hon, I think we’ve tried everything and you’re putting a lot of pressure on yourself. I think you and the baby would be happier if we switched to formula.” Sometimes moms, in our hormonal haze and Type-A personalities, need a reality check from our partners. Back to Kornelis, their lactation consulted had his wife hooked up to machines with an unworkable routine (I know because I got the same advice and it was totally useless). I think they made the right decision. But that’s because giving up on breastfeeding was the best thing for his wife and his baby.

So have that conversation — will we support breastfeeding? Have it before the baby comes. Ask yourselves what you’ll do if you have trouble with latching and lactating. Figure out how far you’re willing to go with a lactation consultant. But just keep in mind: Baby and mom have WAY more at stake here than dad does.

Do you think dads should have a say in decisions about breastfeeding?

Image via Katerha/Flickr

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