Updated: Jun 11, 2020
I recognize that my husband is equally important as I am in our child’s life. Both of us bring completely different strengths and responsibilities to the family and work together to create balance in our home. Even though mamma is the one making magical milk, papà also makes magic happen, but in very different ways. While mamma is putting much of her energy into mothering through breastfeeding, papà goes to work, helps with household chores, takes care of mamma, takes care of the dogs and still makes plenty of time for baby.
Although my husband is not capable of breastfeeding our son, there are plenty of ways that they bond and spend their time together. In the beginning I was afraid of change and feared parting ways with my pump, but then I was enlightened by the wise words of my lactation consultant. I had asked her if I could stop pumping after having discovered that my baby was able to successfully breastfeed and no longer needed to be “topped off” with a bottle after. She told me, “You only pump when you have a reason to.” I was so accustomed to pumping because I did it all day every day during my son’s first 3 months of life. As much as I hated it, I couldn’t imagine life without bottles because it’s all I knew. The thought of not being able to measure every serving and know exactly how many ounces he would drink was so frightening. I thought I would never be able to leave the house again because he would need me near him at all times. But she was right. I had started pumping only because I had a reason to. After months of practice, he finally latched. I then had no reason to pump and we no longer had to depend on bottles.
As far as my sweet baby wanting to nurse all the time, he absolutely did.
But I loved being inseparable from him and I still do, even though he can go many hours without me now. I stopped trying to fit in with the cultural norms and listened to my own mamma instincts. I learned that we could survive without using bottles. I realized it was okay to want to be near my baby all the time. Sporadic one-hour segments of alone time was all I ever needed because I missed him so much whenever I was away. I witnessed just how quickly he grew and changed from a newborn, to an infant and finally to a toddler. I also let go of my fear of him not drinking enough of my milk. After educating myself about all things related to lactation, I was finally able to trust my own body and knew I would produce exactly what he needed. Since then, life as a breastfeeding mother has become much easier and I am extremely grateful for all that I have learned.
Having my husband bottle-feed our baby in the beginning was crucial because it allowed me to pump right away after attempting to nurse. Once I no longer needed the pump and stored all of my accessories away, my husband still had plenty of opportunities to bond with our baby. I notice that he is much better at making our baby giggle than I am and I appreciate the different experiences my baby enjoys with his father. Hearing their loud, lively laughs sends waves of love and warmth to everyone around them and will always be my favorite sound. Mamma can also indulge in her much needed rest or self care while baby is being entertained by papà. Some of their favorite activities to do together include:
Going for walks
Going for drives
Playing (peek a boo!)
Going to the park
Coloring Easter eggs (or other holiday traditions)
Watching soccer games
Watching Formula One races
Preparing meals (once starting solid foods)
In the end, my husband never felt that he was missing out on something because he was no longer bottle-feeding our son. When I recently asked him if he was sad when we stopped using bottles, he replied, “No! I was relieved… no more washing bottles all the time. I was actually happy because he could finally nurse!”
I used to think that I needed to pump and use bottles so that I wouldn’t be the only one feeding my child. Soon enough I fell in love with mothering through breastfeeding and enjoyed being the only one capable of feeding my baby. I quickly discovered that pumping is extremely hard work both emotionally and physically and should never be forced upon any mother who doesn’t have the desire to do so. It is so important for a new mother to have the confidence to establish healthy boundaries for herself and her new family. If she does not wish to bottle-feed her child, friends and family members can be included in the feeding process by preparing mamma’s meals for her while she nurses. This worked exceptionally well in my home in the early days of motherhood and I am so happy to have had such a great support system. Then, as my baby got older and started eating solids, my husband and relatives started helping by preparing his meals too!
After all, the issue is never breast versus bottle. Problems arise only when a mother is not free to make informed decisions for herself and her child. If a mother has chosen to use bottles, it should be because she has decided that is what works best for her family, not because she was pressured into having others feed her baby or because she was wrongfully told that she wasn’t producing enough milk. Breastfeeding is so personal and leaves no room for other people’s opinions.
There is no need to compare ourselves to one another. No two journeys will ever be the same because, just like all things in nature, no two mothers are alike and no two children are alike.
Breastfeeding has given me such a special bond with my child, but my husband’s role will always be just as important. Our beautiful journey would not have been possible without such a positive and strong man by our sides. His presence and dedication to our family is what really keeps us going. As the core of our “village”, I forever thank him for all that he has done and continues to do for our family. I often speak about the importance of having a solid support system as a new mother, but I forgot to mention that there is nothing better than having your husband as your top fan.