Tag Archives: breastfeeding

Going Public: Breastfeeding Narrative #6

There comes a time after your wee one arrives where you may, possibly, potentially, start to consider actually leaving the house.  It may take a few days, or months, before the idea of heading out doesn’t seem to be so complex an operation that it makes your brain stall.

“They” like to say that if you nurse your baby right before you leave, and don’t plan to be out for more than a couple of hours, then you’ll avoid having to nurse in public.

“They” never met my daughter.

Lane was a nurse-a-holic.  I could nurse her before we left the house, and she’d be content to snooze away in her comfy infant car seat in the shopping cart while I tooled around Target, but the second it was my turn to check out my purchases in line, she wanted a boob in her mouth pronto.  As a baby she always had impeccable timing.  It wasn’t long before I’d mastered the art of nursing and paying.  Paying with a debit card, I’ve found works best when you’re paying one-handed.

The fact of the matter is, if you’re a breastfeeding mom, chances are you’re going to end up breastfeeding in public.  There are moms that choose to avoid this at all costs.  They nurse in the car, they nurse in the restroom, and in case they absolutely must nurse where someone might see them, they own a nursing cover.  I’m not that mom.

Oh, for certain, I was nervous to breastfeed in public.  What if someone started or gawked?  What if someone gave me a dirty look or chided me for corrupting their precious snowflakes with my boobs?  What if I was asked to stop?  What if my overactive letdown flooded the shoe section at Macy’s?  But I found the best course of action was just to climb up on that horse and ride it.  I dare say, I have had great success with nursing in public.  I feel I can do it discreetly, without any extraneous props or apparatus.

In learning the ropes myself, I’ve come across a few morsels of wisdom:

1)  Pick a good spot to make your first foray into public breastfeeding.  For some moms, this is someplace quiet and out of the way… the lounge in a department store, the bench by the pharmacy in the supermarket, a corner booth in a restaurant.  These are all excellent choices, and I’ve nursed on all of them.  However, I went in a slightly different direction.  My first public breastfeeding experience was when Lane was about 3 weeks old.  I took her to the mall to walk around, and despite all my efforts to tank her up before we left, she was looking for a boob after about 30 minutes at the mall.  I considered my options, and went with the bench right in front of Victoria’s Secret, where there were giant posters of larger-than-life woman with larger-than-life, mostly naked breasts hanging in the windows for all to see.  I figured, there’s no way ANYONE would have the gall to reprimand me for nursing here!  And honestly, I’m not sure a single person noticed we were nursing.

2)  Dress appropriately.  Nursing bras are your friend!  I personally prefer the type I can just pull to the side vs. the drop-down flap/cup thing.  Mostly because I fumble too much with the little claspy things on the cups.  Lots of women love nursing wear, but I’ve found more often than not it’s more awkward than just hiking up my shirt, and sometimes doesn’t even provide the supposed benefit of more modesty.  I’m a big fan of wearing nursing tank tops — like a nursing bra, but a tank top — under regular shirts.  Also, I’ve gerryrigged my own maternity wear, by buying a pack of wife-beater tank tops and just cutting a horizontal slit across the chest.  They are super long, and thin, so I can wear them under anything and get great midsection coverage when I hoist my shirt.  Some women will swear by button-down shirts, but they’ve never worked well for me.

Of course in this same vein, you’ll find some of your wardrobe gets shoved to the back of your closet for awhile.  Tight shirts without any stretch to them will not see much daylight… especially stuff that is empire-wasted.  One piece dresses are a thing of the past.

3) Prepare for the unexpected.  As I’ve mentioned, I have an overactive, forceful letdown, which means when I start nursing, my non-utilized boob is capable of randomly offloading an ounce or two of milk in about 30 seconds.  Nursing pads helped but if they were out of position, or if I’d done a boneheaded thing like put them in backwards (yes, I have, even when there was a sticky part to duly demonstrate which side was ‘out’) I’d leak all over the place.  I therefore kept a clean shirt in the car as much as I could remember to do so.  I kept a stockpile of burp cloths and breast pads in the diaper bag.  (By the way, nursing pads are great in a pinch if you forget diapers.  What you can do is put a nursing pad right into the pee-pee area of the diaper, and change it out, thus extending the life of the only diaper you have with you.)

I’m happy to report that through frequent public breastfeeding of two babies, I’ve never received a dirty look or a disapproving stare when I’ve breastfed in public.  Most people have no idea what you’re doing.  I have received plenty of smiles, a few “good for you’s” and shared a few nice conversations with other women who have breastfed or are currently doing so.

The best thing about my willingness to nurse in public, I have to say, is the benefits in a time of crisis.

When Lane was just shy of her second birthday, we took a trip to Arizona.  On the flight back, our plane was delayed on the tarmac before takeoff, for two hours.  Lane is a boisterous, energetic, intense girl… when she’s happy she’s loud and feisty… when she’s upset she’s loud and sometimes inconsolable.  It’s a tough package to deal with… but nursing was always a welcome distraction for her.  We sat on this hot, crowded plane, with a businessman next to us and a family in front of us for that two hour delay (during which I nursed Lane at least four times to settle her down and just as something for her to do, and she didn’t nap at all) plus our three hour flight.  When the ordeal was finally over, some five-plus hours later and we were de-planing, the man next to us said how pleasant our daughter was — even though I was sitting right next to him, I’m pretty certain he had no clue that Lane ever breastfed.  The family in front of us was shocked to see there’d been a toddler behind them the whole time.  I’m certain without nursing in my bag of tricks, we would have been the most reviled people on the plane.

Are breastpumps distracting?

Stephen Colbert wants to get to the bottom of things. Please, please, please watch this.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

WordPress tells me the above is going to embed the video, but if it doesn’t, here’s a linkity link:

http://www.comedycentral.com/colbertreport/videos.jhtml?videoId=177933

How to overcome obstacles: Breastfeeding Narrative #5

There’s so much that can go wrong when you’re breastfeeding.  You start out with those idealistic fantasies.  You know the ones that you have in your head:  you and the baby, nursing together, snuggled in a chair, stylish Boppy pillow, gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes, ethereal glow around you, birds tying ribbons in your hair.

Trouble is, for a lot of people, it doesn’t quite go like that.  First of all, I ordered those ribbon-tying birds in advance and they couldn’t even do a simple square knot, let alone a pretty bow.  All they did was crap all over the place.  Total ripoff.

I personally have dealt with a lot of obstacles — blistered, bleeding nipples, milk imbalance and an overactive letdown, a couple biting phases — and somehow managed to nurse Lane ’til she was about 3 1/2, and Jake’s still nursing strong at 15 months.  These things can be overcome!  Not ALWAYS, but usually.  Your best bet is to be prepared with some information in advance.  Read about some of the common problems at Kellymom.com.  Find yourself a La Leche League meeting BEFORE the baby’s born, and attend a meeting while you’re still pregnant.  Get the leader’s phone number.  Read a couple good books before the baby arrives.  Read this article at CNN.com and bookmark it.

So, I’ve had my share of issues; let me tell you what I personally did to overcome them.

1)  Blistered, bleeding, sore nipples.

Lane came out of the womb READY.  TO.  BREASTFEED.  She got latched on an hour after being born, and nursed like a crazy little sucking machine for a half hour straight… while I was completely prone on my back, legs in stirrups, getting a mystery tear in my vagina located and stitched up.  It was not a position conducive to getting a well-positioned latch, and despite assurances from the OB nurse that she was latched well… she wasn’t.  It didn’t hurt that much, but that first nursing session she sucked a pencil eraser sized blister on my right nipple.  Yeeeow.

Then it popped and scabbed over.  Double yeeeow.  But having done my homework, and very personally vested in making breastfeeding work for us, I knew it was important to let her nurse on that breast, despite the discomfort.  (Did I say discomfort?  Ahh, how time dulls the memory.  It was like a hot poker being jabbed into my nipple.)

So how did I manage?  Ibuprofin to cope with the pain, and Lansinoh brand lanolin cream.  (Lansinoh is AMAZING.  I cannot say enough good things about this stuff.  It is dreamy on sore nipples… not only does it help heal them, it also serves as a lubricant to prevent irritation in the first place.  And it is great for so much more than nipples.  It kicks diaper rash to the curb.  It softens hard, dry skin on your feet.  It is the only thing I’ve found that doesn’t sting to put on a chapped nose when you have a bad cold.  Spend the $10 and get a tube; it will last forever and you’ll keep finding new uses for it.)  Anyway… despite Lane’s near-constant nursing during our first few days, the nipple was all healed up in about three or four days.

2)  Milk imbalance & overactive letdown.

Let me take a minute to explain what this is first.  I’m going to be brief and if I’m any way unclear, you can always read a longer explanation.  Basically, when the milk starts flowing, it’s like skim milk.  It’s got more protein, not as much fat.  This is called “foremilk”.  As baby nurses, the milk gradually becomes thicker, more opaque, more fatty.  Like whole milk, really, and maybe even more rich than that.  It gets downright creamy.  This is called “hindmilk”.

So, you know how if you eat a meal that’s a lot of meat and little else (basically a lot of protein) it sort of messes with your digestion?  You get gassy (and STINKY) and get gas pains and let’s not even talk about the resultant ugly bowel movements.  Well, if a baby gets all foremilk and no hindmilk, he’s getting almost all protein in his diet… not too much sugar and like no fat at all… and boy do you know it by the diapers.  Breastmilk bowel movements are yellow and almost pleasant-smelling.  When you’ve got a milk imbalance going on, the poop looks green and frothy and loses that pleasant smell.  And baby gets gassier, and grumpier as a result.

This happened with Lane, starting around the time she was about 3 weeks old.  I had an overabundance of milk, and she was satiated on mostly foremilk, without getting to the creamy, fatty hindmilk.  The solution I found, and what worked, was ‘block feeding’ – basically, nursing on only one side for a few hours at a time.  I think I did four hour blocks, where Lane only nursed on one boob.  After four hours I would switch to the other boob.

Related to this issue, I also had an overactive letdown.  When my milk starts flowing, it REALLY starts flowing.  My letdown could shoot milk 4-5 feet and soak an entire burp cloth.  Eventually I started catching it in a bowl, and it would often equal 1.5-2 oz. in 20-30 seconds’ time, which is a crazy amount if you think about a little tiny one-month-old baby trying to keep up with this onslaught.  Lane simply couldn’t nurse that fast and would gag… so we learned that as soon as I felt that letdown coming (it is a distinct tingling sensation) I would unlatch her and let that initial letdown pass.  She didn’t get that I was doing it to help her and she’d get all pissed off for those 20 seconds I wouldn’t let her nurse, but it was worth it to not have her gag.  (Either my letdown eased up with Jake, or he was just more capable of keeping up, because I don’t recall having to go through that rigmarole with him.  Each baby is so different!)

3) Biting.

Both my kids have experimented with chomping down on me… and funny, both went through the phase at about six months old.  When Lane was six months old, she didn’t have a single tooth.  Jake, however, already had four.  OUCH!  Don’t think for a second that Lane didn’t hurt me though… that little baby could gum you to death!

The solution that worked best for both babies was simply creating a negative consequence to the biting.  With both, if they bit, that was the end of nursing for a minute or two.  I said, “Ouch, that hurts!  No biting!” and immediately stopped nursing.  Also what helped was simple attentiveness.  I always got bit when I wasn’t paying attention… trying to do other stuff while we nursed, daydreaming, talking to someone else.  I reverted to making breastfeeding that intimate, bird-ribbon-tying affair for a while.  Once my baby didn’t feel like he or she didn’t have to vie for my attention, biting became much less of an issue.

Complicit with nature

I have to say, my body and nature get along well.

As in, my body tends to just be generally healthy and predictable and well.  I have regular periods, when I have them.  When I try to get pregnant, I get pregnant.   I try to breastfeed my kids, and they breastfeed.  And breastfeed and breastfeed.

And so it goes with my postpartum period as well, it seems.  Right now, as nature surely intends, such that I can continue focusing my parenting energy on my youngest nursling, I have not yet experienced the return of my period.

Chalk that up as another benefit of breastfeeding — the cheapest birth control imaginable.

However, what comes with that is a libido to match.  That being, none.   Chalk that up as one of the breastfeeding minuses.

Granted, neither of these are automatics with breastfeeding.  Some women see their periods return after a few months no matter how much they are breastfeeding, and I’m sure some also are veritable hornballs through their time lactating.  However… not me.

After Lane was born, I had an IUD inserted six weeks postpartum.  Seems now that that was a rather redundant action.  At least it bought me peace of mind.  This time, I skipped such formalities with the inclination that they wouldn’t really be necessary.

This is not a bad thing.  Even if we wanted to conceive again, I don’t see how we’d manage.  Sure, we could slip in the occasional lovemaking, but really, I’m just looking at our current reality and laughing at the idea.  Right now, Lane and Jake are running circles around the ottoman in our living room.  Jake is giggling, and Lane is singing “Please Bring Honor To Us All” from Mulan, only it seems she doesn’t know any of the actual lyrics and is thus substituting gibberish.  Frank is looking feverishly for the remote that I managed to misplace during the day.  I know I used it… but I don’t know where it went after that.  Unfortunately our two crazy, mobile, mischievous children present the possibility that neither of us adults could know where it ended up.  If I were due to ovulate and this was the prime time for conception, I just don’t see how we’d make that window without giving the kids sedatives.

But that is totally OK, because I really have no inclination in the world to add another body to the mayhem at present.  I have friends getting pregnant (a big shout-out and congrats to Amanda and Dave, Amanda of BFF notoriety, who will be greeting a baby around Labor Day… so apropos.  Oh and if you ever get the chance, ask Amanda how to pronounce “apropos”.) and having babies (congrats Kim!) and trying to have babies and I honestly and absolutely have no desire whatsoever to join their ranks again right now.

Anyway, I should go help Frank find the remote.  I think he’s getting D.T.s from missing the hockey game I know he wants to watch.

So, your husband wants to breastfeed? Breastfeeding Narrative #4

Honestly, I have no experience with this.  But judging from the search results of people who come across my blog, it seems to be fairly commonplace.  Apparently husbands are making this request a lot.  Or, people are looking for pictures of this, which is slightly odd.  Or there are a few prolific perverts hitting my blog continually.  In any event, you’re not the first person to think of it.

I would say if you’re comfortable with it, there’s no reason not to give it a try.  But I don’t want to hear about it.

Is this baby going to nurse forever? Breastfeeding Narrative #3

This is one in a series of breastfeeding posts. Really, I’m no expert – I’m not a doctor, I’m not a doula, I’m not a lactation consultant. I am simply a breastfeeding mom who has nursed one child to three years old, and am currently nursing another who is nearly a year old.
If you’re looking for specific answers, I recommend giving a visit to http://www.kellymom.com, a breastfeeding site written by a lactation consultant. These will simply be me blabbering about my experiences and is not medical advice.
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There are people out there who say things like, “If they’re old enough to ask for it, they’re too old to breastfeed.”  Or, “What are you going to do, go with him to kindergarten so he’ll have something to drink?”  Or, “A woman who’d breastfeed a preschooler must be getting pleasure from it.”  Or, the slightly less tacky but still intruding, “You’re not still breastfeeding, are you?”  People who say these things are, in a word, idiots.  Anthropologists tend to concur, based on comparative studies with other primates, that humans are naturally supposed to nurse anywhere from 15 months to 5 years old.  Left to their own devices, a child will usually wean herself in that time frame.

I started writing this post around the idea of weaning, but from me that would be odd, because I have never really actively weaned a baby.  Or a toddler.  Or a preschooler.

I’m not sure when and how I decided upon it, but rather early on with Lane I decided to mostly follow the practice of child-led weaning.  Basically, letting breastfeeding happen as long as Lane wanted to, and I was still comfortable doing it.  Lane as a baby was a breastfeeding  hound; she wanted it a lot, and protested vehemently when it wasn’t provided.  I knew that any sort of active weaning was going to cause more heartache and lost sleep than it was worth.  So, I went with the flow, mostly.

Lane nursed feverishly and with wanton abandon through her first year.  I was even pumping for her until she was 16 months old.  (I was working full-time at this point – I’ll definitely talk about breastfeeding and working in another post.)  By the time she was about 20 months I’d night-weaned her, which wasn’t too difficult because she only woke up once to nurse and after a few nights of Frank attending to her instead of me, and/or a few nights of explaining that she couldn’t nurse until the sun was back up, she was good.  At about the same time or shortly thereafter, I instituted an at-home-only rule.  She could only nurse if we were at home, not out in public.  Soon after her second birthday she only nursed first thing when she woke up, and right before bed.  She held onto those twice a day sessions for a long time: I think around the time Jake was born (she was 2.5 when he was born) she only asked to nurse in the morning maybe every other day, which gradually reduced in frequency even more.  Not long before her 3rd birthday, I instituted a 10-second rule.  When she nursed, I would count to 10.  I started counting very slowly, stretching it out to nearly the length I knew she normally nursed (2-3 minutes), and slowly the counting got faster, until she was really nursing a true ten-count.  Before she turned 3 the morning nurse was gone completely, and a couple of months after she turned 3 the bedtime session became less of a staple and more of an occasional occurrence.  Even now, maybe once every other week she might ask to nurse.  And she does, for a quick ten-count.  She still mentions nursing as part of her bedtime routine (“first we’ll brush our teeth, then read three books, then nurse, then turn off the light”) but once we’re in the routine, she so rarely actually asks to nurse.

Now through all this, I pretty much followed a “Don’t offer, don’t refuse” method – let her nurse whenever she wants, don’t say no when she asks.  Well, she asked a LOT.  So there were times I’d say no, and then I started saying no (or at least saying “not now” once the at-home-only rule was in effect).  And there were also times I offered… like soon after Jake was born and I’d be all engorged because he was in the middle of a three hour nap and my boobs hurt, or back in the day when he’d sleep through the night (yeah… he used to… and doesn’t now… oh that fact drives me insane) and I’d wake up in the morning, my boobs throbbing, and Lane would be more than willing to skim off the top for me and ease the pressure.  It was awesome that she was still nursing then, let me tell you!

Jake is pretty laid back about nursing during the day – when he gets hungry he’s just as easily satisfied with some food as he is with my milk.  Nighttime is a different matter, boy is he hooked on nursing.  I’m working through ways right now to try to minimize his night nursing because at this point it really is a habit and not a nutritional need, and I think it’s interfering with his ability to sleep more than 2-3 hours at a stretch.  So, yeah, working on ways to gently reduce his night nursing, with limited success.

So no, your baby will not nurse forever.

And if you do opt to maintain an extended breastfeeding relationship, it doesn’t mean that you’ll be nursing your 3 year-old with the same frequency you nurse your 3 month-old.  People share weird stories about kindergartners  lifting their mother’s shirts to nurse in front of other people… extended breastfeeding simply isn’t like that with most people.  Just because you nurse past your child’s first birthday doesn’t mean you can’t make rules and set boundaries.  Allowing the breastfeeding relationship to continue is not the same as being completely permissive about how the relationship continues.  As you probably ascertained from my above timeline, by the time Lane was about 18 months old, nursing for us was largely a private matter.  If she asked in public I said no, but that when we were home, she could.  Even being the single-minded, intense, willful child she can be, she handled the postponement well; as long as she knew it would happen soon, eventually, she was OK.  Remember, your body is still your body, and nobody can or should make you feel forced or manipulated or indebted to do anything with it with which you’re not comfortable.

And, certainly, my way is not the “right” way.  It’s not the only way.  It’s not the best way.  It’s just a way, and it worked for me and my family.  It was what was easiest.  I have a husband who is crazy supportive of breastfeeding, a family (both mine and his) that isn’t overly meddlesome or outwardly judgmental of extended breastfeeding, and I’m not the sort of person to cave to that sort of pressure anyway.   Any breastfeeding is better than no breastfeeding, and while I’ve found it to be one of the most awesome and rewarding things I’ve ever done, and I’ve cherished the breastfeeding relationship I have with my children more than any connection I’ve ever had with another human, breastfeeding is also the most draining, challenging, and selfless things I’ve ever done as well; it is a lot of work and it takes a great amount of willpower to stick with it even when things are going smoothly.  Throw in issues like recurring mastitis, a baby who won’t stop biting you, pregnancy and the ensuing breast pain, tandem nursing, etc., and it’s just that much more challenging.  So please don’t take this post as an unconditional endorsement of breastfeeding past a year and anything less is subpar.  I don’t feel like that’s true at all.  If you make it six days, or six months, or six years, you’ve done a great job.

So your wife wants to breastfeed? Breastfeeding Narrative #2

This is one in a series of breastfeeding posts. Really, I’m no expert – I’m not a doctor, I’m not a doula, I’m not a lactation consultant. I am simply a breastfeeding mom who has nursed one child to three years old, and am currently nursing another who is nearly a year old.
If you’re looking for specific answers, I recommend giving a visit to http://www.kellymom.com, a breastfeeding site written by a lactation consultant. These will simply be me blabbering about my experiences and is not medical advice.
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Maybe she isn’t your wife… maybe she’s your fiance or girlfriend or partner, and she’s pregnant with your child. Or maybe it’s not even “your” child. But her belly’s getting bigger, she’s having difficulty tying her shoes, and the baby’s arrival is imminent. Or, maybe the little dude or dudette arrived not so long ago. But regardless, maybe you’re looking at your wife’s boobs and are feeling a little territorial. You’ve had unfettered access for awhile. What’s this going to be like?
Some men have a hard time getting over the sexualness of a woman’s breasts. Breasts are for fun! Breasts are for you to play with and touch and lube up and do unholy things with! Breasts are fun to look at! Well, all this is true. And it will continue to be true. But breasts, primarily, are for the nourishment of a baby. I took an evolutionary psychology class in college, and the basis of evolutionary psychology is that most normal behaviors, emotions, desires, etc. are tied to some sort of furtherance of the human species — what you think, how you feel, what you do, all serve in some way to ensure you’ll spread your proverbial seed. From this standpoint, it would be the argument that the sexualization of a woman’s breasts has occurred because round, voluptuous breasts indicate that this woman would be a good mating partner; were she to birth your offspring, she could adequately feed that baby and help ensure its survival, to further spread your seed.
(Let me just note here that it really isn’t necessary for a woman’s breasts to be round or voluptuous to successfully breastfeed. If your partner’s sporting a perky set of A’s they should not be a hindrance to her breastfeeding success.)
First understand, breastfeeding is the best way to feed a baby. (Even formula companies will tell you this.) It’s also way cheaper than formula. Breastmilk is nutritionally optimal, and contains chemicals and enzymes and immunity boosting stuff that formula cannot and will never be able to duplicate. Your child is very lucky to be breastfed. That isn’t to say that formula is “bad”. Formula is great. Formula has been lifesaving for so many babies who couldn’t be breastfed, for the zillion reasons there are for not breastfeeding. Formula is wonderful. Breastmilk is even better.
It’s sort of like the difference between a Mercedes and a Bentley. A Mercedes is a great car. It’s safe and beautiful and really has just about everything could ever need from a car. The Bentley, however, is a Bentley.
My big piece of advice is, get over it. Having a kid changes everything; this is no different. Some women are cool about their breasts’ continued involvement in your lovemaking or general day-to-day getting-felt-upedness, but some aren’t. For me personally, I’m OK with my breasts being touched, but not within like 15 minutes of a feeding. And DEFINITELY not WHILE I’m nursing. (My husband made that mistake once. Once.) So please respect your partner’s wishes here. She’s not asking you to leave the girls out to punish you. The boundaries of comfort just have shifted. There may need to be other adjustments, too. The hormone that surges through her body when she nurses her baby happens to be the same one that surges through her body when she has an orgasm. So for a while, you may need to deal with getting wet, or she may need to wear a bra with nursing pads during lovemaking. Or maybe you’re a big pervert and you’ll like it; I don’t know you. (Just kidding about that pervert thing. Well, sort of.)
For most women, the breastfeeding relationship they have with their kids is extremely cherished and valuable to them. As a breastfeeding mom, it’s not something I would trade for the world. Expect that this bond between your partner and the baby will be strong and special, and for a long time only Mommy will do. And yes, you will not be able to help much with the feeding itself, but there are many other things you can do to share in the parenting workload, and bond and hang out and get to know the baby. Change diapers. Give baths. Wear the baby to sleep in a sling. Cuddle with her on your bare chest (babies often love this). Watch hockey games with him.
Now, amuse me for a moment while I go through some other thoughts I wish someone would have told my husband!
– Remember to “mother the mother”. Especially during those first few weeks, when the breastfeeding relationship is being established and your partner is still recovering from childbirth, you have to take care of her. Make sure she always has a drink within reach. (Not a DRINK drink… if she always has a martini in reach, perhaps she shouldn’t be breastfeeding!) Offer to rub her feet while she’s breastfeeding. Take over some of the chores she usually does for a few weeks, and don’t slack on the stuff you’re supposed to do, either. E.g., don’t make her nag you to take out the trash like she has every week for the last three years. And if you want to be your partner’s hero, a couple times a week take the baby somewhere and leave mom at home. Take him for a drive, or a walk, or on an errand with you, and give your partner 30 minutes of alone time where she’s guaranteed to not have to respond to or hear a baby cry. If you make sure you go right after a feeding, you don’t have to worry about having milk with you. Moms have very little opportunity to be truly alone, especially in the early baby weeks, and especially in their own home. This is different than letting her get out of the house without the baby, which will also be appreciated.
– Consider co-sleeping. I’m not sure I could have had a successful breastfeeding relationship with my babies if I didn’t bring them to bed with me. Be open to this idea, and even suggest it if your wife’s up a dozen times a night feeding a baby. With a bit of practice, it’s so easy to nurse lying down, and it is really nice to cuddle with your baby at night. Some of my favorite pictures of my husband with our kids are ones where I’ve caught them cuddling in the morning when I woke up and they were still snoozing away, nuzzling. If you do co-sleep, be sure to do it safely.
– Nursing in public: Your wife wants to breastfeed in public and it makes you feel a little weird? See above: Get over it. Remember, they aren’t your breasts. If she feels comfortable, that’s what matters. No one’s paying attention anyway. And chances are, 75% of anyone who pays enough attention to your partner won’t even realize she’s breastfeeding. I’ve had minutes-long conversation with my brother’s early-20s friends (who I know are all sorts of perverted), baby on boob, and they never even realized we were breastfeeding; they thought the baby was sleeping. Most of the people who will realize there’s nursing going on are other women who have breastfed babies. In other words, you don’t really have to worry about the pervs flocking around your partner, because they simply won’t know better. And in any event, breastfeeding doesn’t generally show any more boobage than your everyday bikini, and most guys that I know really enjoy their partners to wear bikinis.
– Remember, it will get better. Eventually, your partner won’t be as tired. She’ll get more sleep. The baby will start to sleep better, too. (Maybe not “great”, but definitely better.)
– I won’t even talk about extended breastfeeding. I think that’s probably a post in itself. Just remember like all good things, breastfeeding will come to an end, sooner or later. Your child will not celebrate getting his driver’s license by taking a guzzle off mom’s boobs.