Dad Deserves Final Say in Breastfeeding


breastfeedingWhen I got pregnant, there were a few things I was absolutely sure of. I was happier than a pig in you-know-what to be pregnant, but a miserable pregnant woman. Oh, and I was going to breastfeed.

My mother breastfed me. She breastfed my brother. And every single finger-licking thing I learned from good old Doc. Google was "do this for your baby!" But as I registered for milk storage baggies and made a personal pledge never to let a pacifier pass her lips, I bypassed the most important talk of my pregnancy: I never asked my husband.

It was a major mistake, and one I can't undo. Yes, ladies, it's your body and they are your boobs. But you're not going to succeed at breastfeeding with a guy who says, "Eh, just get the kid a bottle."

My husband truly acted like a "dad" from the get-go. He cut the cord (despite his faint-inducing fear of blood) and couldn't wait to get his hands on his precious baby girl. He sat and watched lovingly as I tried to breastfeed her in the delivery room, then settled in to hold her, beaming before grudgingly handing her over to my father for his own cuddle action.

But when they wheeled her off to the nursery and wheeled me to our room for the night, he was still acting as my husband. He wanted me to get some sleep. It's a fact I won't and can't begrudge him; he was acting like the man I married, the man who had been putting me first for the past five and a half years.

And as I spiraled into postpartum depression in the days after our daughter's birth, he continued to look at me not as the mother of his child but as his wife. Breastfeeding, he saw, was making my depression worse. With no insurance coverage for a lactation consultant and no money to hire one ourselves, we were going at it alone with the books and the Internet. I was trying desperately to make it work, and feeling increasingly like a failure as nothing I tried worked.

He was watching me slip away, and he threw out a lifeboat. He didn't know it was the wrong one. "Give up," he told me. "Stop this insanity. You are making yourself nuts, and you don't have to do this to yourself." I hated him for it. If even my husband thought I couldn't breastfeed, I knew I must be the world's worst mother.

It's taken a long time for me to let go of an unjust anger. I look back and realize he was doing the best he could. In light of the circumstances, he was making the best choice not just for me but for him and for our daughter. She could live on formula. She couldn't live with a mother who hid in her room crying all day.

I can't undo my depression or the fact that we had crappy insurance. I can't undo that I had no breastfeeding support or even that I eventually gave it up much earlier than I ever intended. But I can undo future pain for other mothers.

Don't do what I do. Don't expect your partner will understand why you plan to breastfeed and don't expect him to be on the same page. He may very well think it's not a big deal. He may just be plain jealous that you get to do all the feedings (in the end, my husband loved that time he spent holding her with a bottle -- it's one of the silver linings in our very dark cloud). Or he may be trying to help you, but just doesn't know how. He didn't go to school at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry; you can't expect him to read your mind!

I may still have been forced to give up breastfeeding early -- part of living in the boonies is a lack of good healthcare, and that means good depression resources in addition to the lack of lactation support. But at least he would have known he had to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Have you talked to your partner about your feeding plans yet?

Image via ODHD/Flickr

fathers, emotions, motherhood


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

RanaA... RanaAurora

Jeanne, I think this is some very wise advice. It is incredibly important that your spouse understand why it's so important, and how to get their wife good support and help. And they CAN ruin it for you too if they aren't the support you need when you need it.

Brade... BradenIsMySon

@DebaLa: When I had my son almost 15 years ago...I had NO ONE to ask. AND I didn't even have internet to look at. I tried breastfeeding on my own and had NO clue what to do, what to expect or anything. To this day, I don't know very many people that breastfeed. In fact, I think I may know 2. LOL So, I am glad for internet now when I have my next kid. At least I am better informed. 

HighT... HighTinkerMama

This is a very poorly written article in my opinion. Nor do I agree with the fact that the Husband should have the final say. My husband did not. I talked with him about it and he was one who was very unsure of it. He didn't support the idea of breastfeeding because he knew nothing about it. There were also a handful of people putting me down for wanting to breastfeed and telling me I would not succeed because I was to young. But, I did not let that stop me. I was determined to breastfeed my first. As soon as my son was born I let everyone hold him first but I got him to latch within the first hour of birth. Even with how tired I was and everyone's degrading comments replying in my head. I still managed to push through, completely oblivious to everything the lactation consultant said to me, I knew what I was doing and everything she told me was wrong. I did my research while I was pregnant. I am happy to report my son is now 1 year old and we are still breastfeeding! I am not going to make him wean anytime soon but, if he decides he is done thats fine because my original goal was 1 year. Also, my husband is now in full support with breastfeeding after seeing how our son has grown. He started walking at 8 months. Talking before a year. He is now running through the house. We are very happy. He is compeltely healthy and has never been sick.

jalaz77 jalaz77

Breastfeeding is never easy the first few months. Its a challenge but that is a challenge I have done with all my babies. Still going strong with my youngest who is 5 months. It's even more challenging when a husband doesn't give you support. It sounds like he wasn't sure how to support you. Also you were not very well informed on how great it is once you and baby get the hang of it. If latching is the issue then pumping would be the 2nd option. Bottle feeding isn't the worst thing in the world so mothers who choose not to BF shouldn't be considered a failure. I am surprised the hospital doesn't have a lactation consultant come up before you were dc'd from the hospital. At my hospital it is part of the birth package. Sorry you felt like you had no support better luck next time if there is one. I disagree with daddy getting the FINAL say though cause guess what daddy, that is what our breasts were made for!

Shannon Tucek Eichenauer

Honestly, I think this article is less about the title and more about just including your partner in the decision. No the husband shouldn't make it but he should certainly be included in it.

It is great article and you said what I couldn't say with my first one. So thank you.

aehan... aehanrahan

I never talked to my husband about it before I had our oldest because it WASN'T A DECISION to be made to me.  I never even considered any other option.  In fact, I didn't really know that there even was another option.  We are mammals and mammals feed their babies their milk from their bodies.  I guess I was lucky that I married a man that thought the same way even though he wasn't breastfed.  I talked to him about it years later when I realized that some people chose to not breastfeed.  

Jenny301 Jenny301

I totally understand where you are coming from because I lived it.  With my first son, I had undiagnosed ppd and didn't understand that's what was going on, and I gave up breastfeeding after a month when my well-intentioned family and husband encouraged me to give up some feedings and get some much-needed rest.  After my second son was born, and my ppd was so out of control that I couldn't ignore it, I went to the doctor, was diagnosed, and treated.  (Although our misinformed ped told me to stop bf'ing to take the medicine.  I didn't listen.)  When my insomnia was only letting me sleep for two hours a night, my dh encouraged me to stop bf'ing and allow him to feed our baby formula.  cont....

Jenny301 Jenny301

And I'll admit during some of my weaker moments, I did allow him to give the baby formula so I could sleep. But, when dh went to a therapy session with me and we were discussing bf'ing, I told dh that I would feel like a failure if I stopped. I had never discussed it with him before, so he didn't know it was that important to me. But, I was determined that I wouldn't give up. And, believe me, it was very hard to not give up when I had no desire to hold my baby. (Kind of a requirement for bf'ing.) I still have guilt about not making it longer with my older son, but I am proud to say that I have made it thirteen months with my younger son, and we are still going strong. And in my ppd news, I just cut down to only one therapy session a month and am on my way to being fully recovered. :)

Jenny301 Jenny301

Oh, and I'm willing to bet that these mothers who are being so hard on you never had a severe case of ppd.  Because then they would understand.

nonmember avatar Caryl

Your article is right on and I agree with the previous poster: if you've never struggled with PPD you don't know how hard it is. I didn't have support even though I have great insurance and ended up paying for an LC out of pocket, but because the LCs at the hospital were not helpful, I lost valuable time and my milk started drying up. It was a nightmare. Lack of sleep, no support, birth trauma are all issues that, if you have not had to deal with them, you have no idea what a nightmare it is.

Parenting is a two-person adventure. Communication with your spouse is important....


11-20 of 93 comments First 12345 Last