Attachment parenting, Parenting

Attachment Daddy: Supporting Breastfeeding

10 June, 2013

I am handing over my blog today once again to my husband, Tim- or Tim Pop as Ramona calls him. (She also calls him Tim AitkenRead or Uncle Tim- very rarely Daddy! Hehehoohoo.) He wrote about general attachment fatherhood things quite a while ago now, and I’d like him to write about cosleeping and babywearing, but today he is writing about breastfeeding.

Of course, what men think about breastfeeding should be irrelevent – who cares what they think?! Babies need to be nursed by women and we will do it regardless! But, in actual fact, I think it is pretty vital. Husbands and partners can provide much needed support during those early tricky days, or wearying night feeds, or when people criticise the choice to breastfeed a toddler. Tim was the one who bought me endless drinks when that extreme thirst hit everytime I sat down to nurse, the one made me healthy meals and snacks, the one who gave important support to my decision to keep nursing Ramona even when Juno came along. But men are also critical in re-adjusting society’s perspective on breasts- they are the ones who have sexualised them, they now play an enormous role in reframing them as nutritous nursers of children. Only when men on the street and male media moguls/ policy makers/ shop owners make an effort in this will breastfeeding become mainstream.

So here he is…Attachment Daddy on Breastfeeding

Lucy would like me to write about her breasts.  This seems an interesting prospect really considering my mother in law will no doubt read this.  I vividly remember meeting them for the first time.  It was fairly meteoritic.  Since then they have, for the most part, become a normal part of life.

Growing up with two brothers the particulars of breasts were something quite foreign.  The sort of thing you tried not to accidentally elbow when wrestling with our peers or try not to hit with a misjudged pass in touch rugby.  The repercussions of these sort of indiscretions were often quite violent and embarrassing.

Breasts did take on a different dimension later in life, but I won’t dwell on this too much for everyone’s sake.  Then along came Ramona.  Things changed quite dramatically after that.  Baby’s are often quite hungry, and if anyone as ever seen any pictures of Ramona (and now Juno) between 0 and 6 months you’ll understand that feeding time was pretty important.

Attachment Daddy on breastfeeing

I’d like to say that as a mature adult I have developed an amazing level of impulse control, for the most part I actually have.  I have a good level of bowel control.  I manage to not say too many awkward things to the extent that my friends at least think I’m reasonably normal.  But as far as food goes though I can’t resist chocolate.  It’s the answer to most of my problems ranging from hunger through to emotional upheaval.  Ramona takes after me on this one.  Though her focus seems to be “Mummy’s Milk” as she calls it.

Obviously with this in mind, meal times/comfort eating never really followed a set pattern or predictable routine.  So whether we found ourselves walking to the shops, sitting on the bus, playing in the park, or even sitting in the privacy of our lounge Ramona’s desire to be close and eating became the expected norm.  Arguably, for the most part I’m a reasonably modest character when it comes to skin showing.  But the experience of becoming a parent has changed me.  Hunger is hunger.  Needs are needs.  Ramona and Juno need to eat.

Last week I found myself sitting in a circle with 11 other students, and the coordinator of our experiential session of my weekly counseling skills course.  In a lull in the conversation (there are loads of these) I stated that recently I have been struggling with a message that a friend sent to Lucy about her ”tits” being inappropriately all over facebook.  I thought that it was perhaps a misjudged joke, but nonetheless, like Lucy, found it difficult to take.

What came next took a while to process.  According to half the members of the group breastfeeding should be done away from others, if breasts are on show you should expect people to stare at them because they are essentially sexual objects, breastfeeding mums should not go round upsetting people basically;  breasts should not run the risk of being spotted by a guy.

I don’t remember being massively surprised really.  I sort of became sad and quiet initially as the conversation bouncing around the room became irrelevant to my initial statement, later on I may have said a few carefully chosen words. When was the last time you felt the need to go eat your dinner in a room away from your friends and family?

Breastmilk gives life to hundreds of millions of children everyday.  Breastmilk has sustained and continues to sustain both of my children, even the 2 and a half year old sausage.  Breastmilk is amazing stuff that has ensured the health and vitality of Ramona and now Juno.  From pus leaking eyeballs, to blocked noses, basic infections to comforting a toddler with a broken leg Lucy’s breastmilk has been the answer!

I believe that breastfeeding should be normalized in our western, sadly male dominated culture.  In New Zealand where I grew up we didn’t actually have the Sun’s page 3 (it’s not only the architecture of this country that is mainly Victorian), but the prevailing sexualisation of these amazing things still shaped our view of breasts.  I support Lucy entirely in the pursuit of changing this, in fact more than that, I think that it’s an essential chorus that will enable all of us to grow up a bit.

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  • Jo 10 June, 2013 at 10:04 am

    One of my most precious memories is of the newborn days of our fourth child. Three newborns had fed easily with no problems, but the fourth refused to attach properly in any way, and I was left hysterical, sore and bleeding after three days, in a post partum fog, with no reserves of energy, and pleading to put this recalcitrant child on the bottle. My husband knew this wasn’t really what I wanted, and sat with me at every night feed, after reviewing the breastfeeding attachment video frame by frame to get the technique right, steering the baby onto the breast. The midwife was a great support, but without my husband being there every step of the way, that was one baby that would never have been breastfed. So thanks to all the good dads out there…

    • Lucy 10 June, 2013 at 10:16 am

      WOW! Beautiful story! What a wonderful partner, one who knew absolutely what you needed. Thank you for sharing! x

  • Libs 10 June, 2013 at 10:28 am

    Rage! at the thoughtless friend who told you to put your tits away. I’m always so sad to find a friend doesn’t get something that I hold precious – you must have been so hurt.

    I also get enraged at a world that tells me my body is for men’s pleasure and should therefore be controlled… How did we get to a state where FHM loving bratboys take priority over babies?

    Oh dear, This was such a positive lovely post and all I did was spew forth a reaction of rage! Go you Tim for pushing back against all the Esquire lads assumption of entitlement.

    • Lucy 10 June, 2013 at 1:24 pm

      Hehehe, oh don’t be sorry! It is rage inducing indeed! Truly, it makes me so cross. I feel lucky to be mostly sheilded from people who don’t agree that public breastfeeding is indeed the most natural thing in the world.

  • markus 10 June, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    Our twins were extremely premature. They didn’t come home for 3 months. The first few weeks were the most crucial we actually camped out at the hospital. B ( my wife ) had a schedule of expressing every 4 hours. As the boys were so very premature they couldn’t latch on therefore they had to be tube-fed but all they got through that tube was Breastmilk. B just had to express, I did everything else, I sterilized the equipment, put the pump together handed it to her and once she was finished I labelled it up and took to the Nicu nurses. B actually gave me a nickname which I thought was hilarious: ‘my sterilization monkey’. I had no problem at all with any of this, at least I could do something, just sitting around seeing this tiny, tiny babies in the incubators drives you barmy after a while.

  • Mum2BabyInsomniac 10 June, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    Well said. My OH was really supportive of me breastfeeding Iyla to start with but when she got to one he said he thought it was weird and that I should stop, it was really hard for me to hear as I wanted his support. I started reading things to him and when Iyla had her first tummy bug and it was all she would eat / drink he changed his mind and is so positive about it now. More really does need to be done in this country to make people realise that not only is breastfeeding a baby normal but so is breastfeeding a toddler x

  • Katy Beale 10 June, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    What a refreshing response and what lovely stories of supportive dads in the comments. It’s rather refreshing to see it laid out so bold. Let’s face it, the majority of men love boobs. In this case, they love them for what they were made to do – feed and soothe babies and children.

  • vicky myers 10 June, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    A great post, thank you for sharing. I think breast feeding toddlers becomes increasingly difficult in public as the child grows, and the public perception changes.
    One person impressed upon me the need to forget everyone else in respect to their opinions re breastfeeding in public, the important thing is feeding the baby/toddler & mastering it, for the sake of me and baby. Thankfully I was able to take this advice on board, it really helped. As did having a very supportive husband:)

  • Mary Firth 10 June, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    I think of breastfeeding in public as a sort of one-woman protest – I reckon someone just seeing one person breastfeeding in public then makes it more normal next time they see someone doing it. If nobody ever does it then the public are never exposed to it. i’d like to say i don’t really do it in a spirit of protest at the time, but as nobody’s ever come up and commented negatively i imagine my face must say a lot i’m trying to keep inside…

  • iansully 11 June, 2013 at 9:30 am

    As far as I know my wife never had funny looks or experienced any adverse reaction to breastfeeding our baby in public. I’m always (a little) surprised to read of the looks and comments that people encounter. I know that these attitudes exist but I wonder why we’ve escaped their prevalence?

    When we swapped baby caring roles at 6 months and my wife returned to work we had to slowly wean our child off breast milk – for practical reasons. He has had no adverse affects and seems happy and healthy with his mix of bottle milk and food. I guess it leads me to wonder what the relationship is between the needs of the child and the needs of the mother when breastfeeding is continued long-term. I’d be interested in people’s thoughts…

  • thriftshopperforpeace 17 June, 2013 at 3:43 am

    what a beautiful, articulate, supportive piece of writing. and what a wonderful husband you are. i am so grateful that my husband also supported me when i breastfed our son (who will turn 21 this summer.) women were created this way to support their children, to give them a healthy start in life. breastfeeding provides nourishment and boosts immunity. it is always available, always the right temperature, and always the right amount. i realize that there are women who are unable to breast feed and so it is a comfort that there are alternatives for moms out there who can’t and who cannot find a wet-nurse. my grandmother had 12 children and was still having children when her older daughters were having their families! she wet-nursed her own grandson when her daughter contracted malaria and was too ill to feed her baby.
    breastmilk – and supportive fathers and mothers – are wonderful gifts to give our children!

  • Kushla* 24 February, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    Hello lovely Lucy :-).
    Oh, bless your marvelous man! Total treasure- although I too wish he (in his sentiments above in the very least!) was the absolute norm.
    Morri is off w his dad tonight, so I’m indulging in blissfully perusing your brilliant blog. Tino pai wahine toa :-). Love your work!
    Love to you all,
    Xx Kushla*

    • Lucy 24 February, 2014 at 11:20 pm

      Kushlaaaaaaa 🙂 I love your blog too (er, why not link to it where it said to enter URL tutut hehehe) I loved meeting you this weekend!

      • Kushla* 27 February, 2014 at 7:49 pm

        Hehe! Um, because I am a bit of a computer retard! ;-). Seriously!! Just another learning curve for lil’ ol’ me! I think I got it now ;-).
        Totes loved meeting you too Lucy- you are one of 3 women I met over the weekend who has been wandering through my mind alot since coming home. And I’ve been reading rather a lot of your old posts- bloody fabulous! Love your work sister! :-D. I’m hoping to even be inspired enough to actually start writing again (although will need to fix the Mac Daddy first- sigh!), as I have a whole new adventure on the horizon -though unfortunately nothing glamorous like you gypsies!
        Anywho… Until next time Love to you, Tim, and the ratbags Xx*

  • Ross W 7 May, 2014 at 10:04 am

    This man sounds like a total hero. He has my respect and admiration.

    I don’t know if it’s of interest, but I wrote my own “Dad’s Guide to Breastfeeding” a while back with some very practical ideas for dads and dads-to-be who will be or who are supporting a breastfeeding partner. I hope it’s not too cheeky for me to include a link here…it seemed relevant and I wrote it because I don’t see much advice aimed at dads about this matter.

    Thanks for the great article! My wife raves about you and I should really read more myself. 🙂

    • Lucy 7 May, 2014 at 3:55 pm

      Thank you for that great link! And a lovely comment 🙂