Project Breast Feeding

My Husband Doesn’t Want Me To Breastfeed?!!

Have you ever been in a situation where your husband did not want you to breastfeed?  No explanation was given; Just a firm “I do not want you to breastfeed!”. I would love to say this is not a reality for a lot of women and their babies, but unfortunately, it is.

I will be the first to admit that I never gave breastfeeding much thought. As I’ve shared before, I had been turned away from our own hospital’s breastfeeding support class, so I walked away thinking that it wasn’t something I needed to worry about. My wife had expressed interest in breastfeeding, but even she wasn’t exactly sure of her feelings on the matter.  So there we were, both completely clueless and naïve about the whole process.

Is breastfeeding weird? Sure, it can be, the first time you are exposed to it like a man. It is something many men do not understand. Think about it.  For most of us, until our child is born, the only exposure we have had with breasts is sexual in nature.

No one is talking to us about the benefits and importance of breastfeeding for both the mom and baby and breastfeeding benefits certainly aren’t the talk of the locker room. So it’s a subject about which most of us guys are completely ignorant.  I might ruffle a few feathers saying this, but women sexualize their own breasts as much as men do; then when it comes to breastfeeding they get upset that men think of breasts as purely sexual objects.

Once a woman has a child she is able to distinguish the difference between using her breasts for nursing or sex, for most men that switch doesn’t go off as quickly.  We cannot have our cake and eat it too – although sometimes that would be the ideal scenario, it’s not realistic.

So back to the title of this post, how would you react if you were faced with the question of whether or not to breastfeed?  Would you have an open dialogue with your husband about why breastfeeding is important, while also listening to him and his concerns?

Would you tell him that you really don’t care what he thinks, that it’s your body and you will do it anyway?  Does a father have a say in this at all?  Is breastfeeding a decision that should be made together as parents?  After all, it is as much his child as it is yours. Since a mother’s right to make parental decisions never ends, why should a father’s?

MY BODY. MY BABY. MY CHOICE  vs.  MY BODY. OUR BABY. OUR CHOICE.

Now from this paragraph down some people might not like what I have to say, but here is the truth: Being a male breastfeeding advocate, I have seen time and time again women ranting on Facebook threads and forums that they don’t care what their husbands say, they will continue breastfeeding, and if they had to they would divorce a man regarding the matter. I see women telling each other that the kind of man who is not in favor of breastfeeding is no good, and he is probably not a great husband or father!

REALLY?!!!!

Can you imagine how dismissive and hurtful it is to hear your wife tell you that she doesn’t care how you feel and that she is going to make a decision that will affect both of your lives without even addressing your concerns? It is very demeaning to say that a dad’s concerns aren’t valid or even worth addressing.

Not only is this attitude essentially stripping him of his right to participate in parental choices, but you are also setting yourself up to have a very unsupportive and harsh breastfeeding environment. Do you really want your husband rolling his eyes every time you nurse your baby? Do you want him angry and hurt that you didn’t even bother to hear him out? Whether or not his concerns are science-based, they are HIS concerns and his feelings are valid.

I really think men can make or break the breastfeeding relationship. The number one thing that a partner should do is create the most supportive and nurturing environment possible both at home and out in a public setting. How is he to do that if breastfeeding has become a point of contention and dismissiveness right from the start when all he really needed is some knowledge and information.

Obviously, this is a conversation you should have had before the baby was born when that mutually informed decision is best made.

To be clear, I am not saying that a woman should not breastfeed because her husband doesn’t want her to, but she definitely should not be dismissive of his concerns. She should take the time to understand where he is coming from. I know how desperately you want to educate him and you think that by taking him to a breastfeeding support class that is taught by women for women will make him change his mind. That is not likely to happen.

As much as we men do not understand the breastfeeding bond from your point of view, women, in turn, don’t understand it from our point of view. I have heard countless stories from men – myself included, who have tried to attend breastfeeding support classes and groups, only to be told we are not welcome.

No one wants to support a cause that doesn’t welcome you to support it. It’s hard for us to care about something in which we are not supposed to participate. To all of those classes and support groups that keep excluding men, this is what I have to say to you: You are not helping! In fact, you are part of the problem!  How does that really provide the best long term result?

I know that a healthy breastfeeding relationship may be your goal, but your policies create the opposite for many families. Your exclusion of men is hurting the mother and child you are supposed to be trying to help. They feel support during the class or group but then go home to spend the next 23 hours in an environment that is harsh and very unsupportive.

I know that is not the goal, but through your policies, it’s exactly what you are creating. In my opinion, the answer here is having a place to go to where dads can talk to other men about breastfeeding. Up until now, there hasn’t been a place like that, but I’m doing my best to change that.

My advice to these groups already in existence? Encourage men to come, help them understand how important they are to the breastfeeding relationship, and be humble enough to realize the truth; dads are, and will always be, MORE important than a group in ensuring that the mother and child have a successful breastfeeding journey!

Please understand, I am not trying to bash these groups, as they have done a lot of amazing things to further the cause of breastfeeding.  They have good intentions, but they are still falling short simply because they’re missing a key element: Dad.

Dads, Listen Up!

Fathers, this part here is for you. Get off your high horse and be supportive! Be a part of the process!  Be willing to sit down with your wife and LISTEN to her, do research and talk to other men about their experiences.  Don’t be a knucklehead and think that her breasts are yours and not to be shared.

Breasts can be a fun part of a sexual relationship, but the biological function of breasts is simply to nurse and provide nutrition to a growing baby, and not just any baby but YOUR baby!  Here I am 6 months into starting Project: BreastFeeding and I still have not been able to attend a breastfeeding support class or group.

That hasn’t stopped me from educating myself though. Find some experienced dads to talk to! Some of the best education I’ve had has been from other men while having a beer and just talking- now that’s my kind of class! If you want your wife to succeed, you should know what a proper latch looks like, what a lip and tongue tie is and how it affects a proper latch and the causes of so much pain for a lot of women.

To learn about galactagogues and how they help. Learn to identify the symptoms of mastitis and how to massage out a clogged duct. Learn about thrush, and how to heal it. Learn how to work a breast pump and how to clean it. Are you seeing a theme here? LEARN. Become an expert in your state’s breastfeeding laws and stand up for your wife and child and always be her biggest advocate!

Breastfeeding is a family affair and the more knowledge and education you have on the subject, the more comfortable you will be about the breastfeeding relationship. When she has to nurse in public encourage her, let her know how awesome she is and how proud you are of her.  NEVER make her feel ashamed, don’t tell her to cover up if she or the baby do not like to be covered, and don’t tell her to go to the bathroom.

And don’t stop there. Be an advocate, talk to other men and help educate them about the benefits of breastfeeding.  We are the key to changing the stigma about public breastfeeding. The more men we educate, the more women we empower to do the most natural thing for their babies!  We can make a difference, and our wives and babies will be all the better for it. That’s what a real man does.

Oh, and one more thing moms, if after your husband has learned all the great benefits of breastfeeding and his role in that journey, he still doesn’t want you to breastfeed, you do what is best for you and baby.

Let him know you care about his concerns, and while you’re sad he can’t see the importance of breastfeeding, you still have to do what is best for baby. Understand that it will be more difficult, but 9 times out of 10 those dads will come around, that I have seen time and time again.

My Husband Doesn’t Want Me To Breastfeed?!!

13 thoughts on “My Husband Doesn’t Want Me To Breastfeed?!!

  1. This is one of the BEST article’s I have read about the role of a father with breastfeeding.
    I love love how you pointed out that women bash all the dads who aren’t supportive. I think it’s so easy to just say he’s an unsupportive jerk. So I like how this post forces us to see it from a man’s point of view. Just like with everything in life, communication is key. The father’s feelings are just as important as moms.
    And I 100% believe that dad’s have to be allowed to participate in support groups. Because the key to success with breastfeeding is support, and who is the #1 person we yearn for support from? The father of our child.
    Great post. Definitely will be sharing! 🙂

  2. Thank you for all you are doing! This article has given me insight. I would not have thought that having the idea my baby my body could be portrayed by my husband in such a negative way. Thank you again.

  3. This is an awesome article!! Love it. YOU are an awesome guy! My husband was very supportive but he did get a little frustrated that our second child still nursed up to 2 1/2. You know the “are you every going to stop”? lol But that is ok. I still love him. And at times I wondered the same thing myself. I never really thought about the way that we as women sexualize our own breasts, but I grew up in a home where you didn’t even show cleavage, and bikinis were an absolutely no go. Even now at 40 I’m not comfortable showing much cleavage, but part of that is the way I was raised. I wonder how men and women view breasts in the native cultures where women’s breasts are never covered?

  4. I am so thankful to be able to say that my husband is, and has been as long as I’ve known him, an advocate for breastfeeding. When I found out I was pregnant we didn’t really have to discuss it, we both knew I would breastfeed our children. Not one time has he made me feel ashamed or asked me to leave the room or cover up when nursing our daughter (she refuses to be covered). You do your best to be modest, but sometimes it isn’t completely possible. My husband has even come home from work telling me stories about how a coworker didn’t want his wife to breastfeed, and my husband found it appalling. I’m grateful to know he has my back, and isn’t afraid to speak out in support of other women, too.

  5. Thank you for this article! I’ve been blessed in that my husband is very supportive of me breastfeeding, anywhere and anytime but I know many aren’t as blessed. I never actually thought of groups that deny men classes so thanks for a new perspective. Kudos to you also on Project:Breastfeeding, and on being the man you are *tips the proverbial hat*

  6. I love this article because men really can make or break the relationship and the choice to breastfeed or not could make or break a marriage. I struggled to breastfeed my first daughter. It hurt SO badly and for no reason. She was a great eater, and she ate quickly, and was great about latching and feeding overall. The problem was my own pain. I almost quit so many times, and my husband held my hand, sent me to support groups, encouraged me and did everything he could to help. I couldn’t have done it without him, and I would have regretted it, and we both knew it. We knew it was best, so we were going to make it work. I breastfed my first until she was 14 months old. With my second, she all of a sudden decided she wanted a bottle as opposed to the breast. It only lasted about two weeks right after she was born, but I was stressed and worried that I would dry up if I could only pump. He continued to encourage me and now we have a happy and healthy 7 week old, and she is nursing very well. I owe all of this to him, and it makes me love him more.

  7. I have led and taught a breastfeeding support group for the past two years, and your points about fathers being excluded are valid. I have attempted to allow fathers to join, but they’ve been sent out by the owner of the store where our meetings occur, much to my dismay. However, I think I will try again, with an actual scheduled meeting where fathers are welcome, so that mothers who are sensitive will know in advance and can choose to not attend at such a time. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  8. The writer puts everyone in their place. Women, men, and BF support groups. I actually read this out loud to my husband who agreed with everything he said.
    Fortunately for me, when we found out we were expecting and BF came up, my husband didn’t know anything about it, but was open to learning. But I can understand why a lot of men are not.

    For women, there is a physiological change, so the ability to distinguish between the function and sexuality of their breasts is a natural thing. For men, nothing happens to them physically (mine gained a few lbs, but I blame my cravings for that lol). They are expected to make the switch, but it’s not easy.

    BF is supposed to be a positive experience for the home – only then can it be positive and beneficial for Mom and baby. It’s everyone’s job to make sure of that – Mom AND Dad! (It also helps if support groups let men participate, but there is so much information already available)

    If my husband didn’t support me, I wouldn’t be able to BF as long as I have. Although I personally grew up around it, no one I know went past 3 months because of the pressure to get ‘baby off the breast and get your body back’. My husband is my greatest supporter. He was open to learning about it, and that is the point!
    Sorry so long, but I love this article!

  9. These ‘men’ need to get a life. And the mums too if they are considering not breastfededing because their husband doesn’t want them to. When you have a baby, baby comes first. Husband comes second for a little while. If husbands are not mature enough to understand this, then maybe they should not be having children!

    1. I think it’s important to consider a man’s reasoning behind it. If my husband didn’t have a reason and just didn’t want me to, I would lay out all of my research and reasoning. I’d find medical articles and things of the like. If he could not or would not provide a reason beyond just not liking it, I would tell him that I love him, but I am going to do this. However, if he had reasons, worrying about the bond, sharing responsibilities, thinking it’s healthier or more filling, I would be willing to have us both lay out our research and come to a mutual decision.

      A woman just disregarding her husband’s feelings and making him always come second is a recipe for disaster. Sometimes you have to put the marriage first because the kids will grow up and move on, but you married that person intending for it to be forever. If you never put the marriage first sometimes, you may find yourself living with a stranger. This wouldn’t necessarily be a place where I would say you have to put the marriage first, but I would say you should at least hear him out and try to come to a compromise.

      1. Your comment is awaiting moderation. This is a preview, your comment will be visible after it has been approved.
        IIf you are planning on breastfededing your child and it is only your husband who is making you think you shouldn’t then absolutely he should come second in this instance. Breastfeeding has so many benefits to the baby, and can have so many later I life benefits, why is it fair to deprive them of this purely because their father cannot see the long term benefits. A baby cannot voice their own opinion,therefore they are relying on the mother to make the correct decision.
        A strong marriage should survive this little disagreement you may have. I would say this is absolutely one oft he times when the fathers opinion should come second. I am coming to the end of feeding my third baby, can’t quite believe how fast it’s gone, it’s all about perspective. The time flies, they are only little for such a short period, later in life the time you spent breastfededing will be so small!

    2. This is the kind of unhelpful comment that was addressed in this article. Maybe you are not mature enough to be married if you can’t have a discussion with your husband about parenting practices.
      See, how unhelpful that is. Just makes you defensive and not want to listen to me, right? Breastfeeding is only one of many philosophies you may or may not agree on…so I’d suggest you learn how to talk rather than say, “Grow up and deal.

  10. IIf you are planning on breastfededing your child and it is only your husband who is making you think you shouldn’t then absolutely he should come second in this instance. Breastfeeding has so many benefits to the baby, and can have so many later I life benefits, why is it fair to deprive them of this purely because their father cannot see the long term benefits. A baby cannot voice their own opinion,therefore they are relying on the mother to make the correct decision.
    A strong marriage should survive this little disagreement you may have. I would say this is absolutely one oft he times when the fathers opinion should come second. I am coming to the end of feeding my third baby, can’t quite believe how fast it’s gone, it’s all about perspective. The time flies, they are only little for such a short period, later in life the time you spent breastfededing will be so small!

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