10 breastfeeding bystanders share the truth.
When we asked our readers to share what their partners really think about breastfeeding, we didn’t know what to expect. Truth be told, we thought we’d get a whole lot of boob jokes and maybe some indifferent shrugs. But what we got really surprised us. (Ok, we did get some boob jokes, but not as many as we thought we would.)
Of the more than 450 of you that chimed in, 82% said your partners were totally supportive of your breastfeeding experience...even if they were, at times, frustrated, jealous, helpless and self-doubting. Among those that wrote in to share their experiences, there were stories of survival, heart-bursting pride, empathy and compassion...and, yes, even a few offers to help unclog the milk ducts.
Here are 10 partners on what they really think of breastfeeding:
"Breastfeeding is the original farm to table before it became a trend, right? It’s a natural and healthy option that not only benefits my child but also my bank account. It’s been incredible to see my children develop into healthy and nurtured humans because of it." --Scott
"I believe in the benefits of breastfeeding vs. formula, and I’m proud of my wife for breastfeeding. I felt especially sympathetic to the pumping -- that does not look easy. It was difficult not being able to help with the latching and stuff at the beginning. But, I am good at breaking up blocked milk ducts." --Alex
"It was really hard watching her try to breastfeed and seeing her struggle with it. I kept telling her she could stop, but she was so dead-set on making it work. I felt so relieved when she finally switched to formula, it was like a weight was lifted from our house. We were both fed on formula and we turned out ok, and so will our kids." --Andrew
"As the non-breastfeeding parent, I was a bit naive about what it entailed. I knew it was the best decision for our baby, but had no idea about the selfless commitment required by my wife. The first year was nothing less than magical, but about 1.5 years in, my feelings started to shift and doubt settled in. Is this still beneficial for our daughter's health and development? Why can't she just stop now? My inability to soothe our child because of her dependency on the breast had me feeling incompetent and like a third-wheel in my own family. While I believe my feelings of self-doubt were warranted at times, I also accepted that my wife and I have our own unique bond and relationship with our daughter, and gained confidence in my role as the non-breastfeeding parent." --Dina
"Breastfeeding has been a beautiful way for my wife to connect with our sons. She’s devoted so much time and energy to the health and wellbeing of our children, it has given me new perspective of the strength of the female body and the beauty of nature. Plus, breastmilk is warm, nutritious and free -- what’s not to love about that?" --Teddy
"I was incredibly proud of my wife when she breastfed both of our children. She faced significant opposition from her mother, who regularly shamed and criticized her for her choice to breastfeed. Oddly (or maybe not), this strengthened her desire to breastfeed as long as possible, and it became something that we bonded together over. I also saw her physical connection to our children and I made an effort to have skin-to-skin contact with the boys. Despite the chapped nipples, neverending stream (literally) of breast milk, pumping, and frozen packets of milk, it was a magical time in our lives, and I'm so happy to have been invited along the ride." --Jesse
"I was nervous that she was going to feel insufficient because she wasn’t able to breastfeed and then unable to pump for as long as she wanted. I didn’t know how she would be impacted mentally and emotionally because I knew it was something she really wanted to do. My advice for new dads with a partner struggling to breastfeed would be to find a way to be supportive and reassure your partner that they are still a wonderful mom. Don’t let them beat themselves up." --Jack
"Our first son was born with a birth defect where the vast majority of kids are very undersized and often remain that way for life. My wife breastfed and pumped constantly, so that our son had every fighting chance to be a normal size. Not only did he beat the odds to not be undersized, he was above the 90th percentile in height and weight all the way through his infancy. Now, at 4 years old, he's still above the 90th percentile. Writing this now brings tears to my eyes thinking about how hard she worked every day to help our son thrive." --Stephen
"Since my wife breastfed both our boys on demand, it's been a huge help in stressful situations, like on airplanes or in restaurants, as it instantly comforts them. I know how much it depletes my wife and it's something I literally can't help with… other than bringing her a glass of water." --Lance
"When my wife started nursing, she struggled with nipple chafing. Her nipples were sore, and I couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t just give her a bottle, but when I suggested that, she shouted at me, so I dared not argue. We spent one of our first days home at Target, buying every nursing aid, ointment and heat pack to help sooth her angry boobs. A day or two later she was nursing and bottles were optional. Taking the day off made us both aware that the process wasn’t going to be a perfect one, and helped prevent her from quitting." --Damany
*Although many of your partners asked for anonymity, we promise all of these quotes are very real! We love you, partners.
Photos by Stylish & Hip Kids for Well Rounded; Jonas Kakaroto on Unsplash