As many of my fellow breastfeeding ladies (and some gents) can attest: the lactating life isn't an easy one. Physiological difficulties, pumping issues, supply problems, and health complications can make this already kind-of-weird task even more daunting. Thankfully, we do have some help. In addition to breastfeeding support groups, doctors, lactation consultants, and the Internet (don't laugh: it's really helpful sometimes), another person who can be of tremendous help is your partner. Those fine gentlemen who want to help their sweetheart through this life experience know, intrinsically, that there are things no grown-ass man does to his breastfeeding partner.
If I were to sum up all 11 points in one simple, over-arching rule that basically covered all bases, it would be Wheaton's Law, which simply states: "Don't Be A Dick." Look, there's a lot to learn when it comes to parenthood and how you chose to experience it. We need to get a handle on these new little humans we've ushered forth, re-learn how to work together as a couple, get used to new bodies, new rules, new feelings, new everything. This isn't always easy, not even for the most grown-ass of men, many of who (if cisgender) lack the ability to physically experience so many of the aforementioned changes.
But the cream, as they say, rises to the top, and these paradigms of manly, egalitarian righteousness step it the you-know-what up and are never, ever pains in a breastfeeding woman's ass. No, they realize that while breastfeeding may not be something they can experience themselves, it is a difficult task and they should ease their partner's discomfort, instead of add to it. That's why, if your partner is a grown-ass man, you'll never hear or see him doing the following while you're breastfeeding:
Say Breastfeeding Is "Gross"
Think it's gross all you want, dude (though, maybe do some soul searching and think about why that is and get over your damn self), but know that no grown-ass man in the history of ever would say such a thing to his breastfeeding partner. It's both juvenile and mean. An old co-worker of mine once established a rule that I think can loosely apply here: don't yuck the food. As in, when someone is eating something, even if you find it personally distasteful, don't go on about how disgusting you think it is. I think the same should apply when your child is eating.
Complain About "Sharing The Boobs"
The only person sharing boobs is your partner with you, sir. And, in truth, she doesn't owe you access. Ever. At all. Those boobs are all hers. A grown-ass man would never get bratty about having to "share" his partner's breasts with a hungry infant.
Pressure Her To Stop When She Doesn't Want To
A grown-ass man knows that breastfeeding is a highly personal decision, and the decision is not his. While his solicited, honest opinion is welcome, contrary wheedling has no place in a relationship between two adults. It really doesn't matter if he thinks the child is too old to be breastfeeding, or if he's embarrassed by the fact that their child is still nursing, or if he doesn't want to "share the boobs" anymore (and, again, that's not really a thing). It's not his comfort or beliefs that need to be accommodated in this situation: this is between the breastfeeding parent and their child.
Pressure Her To Keep Going When She Doesn't Want To
It's great if a man is supportive of nursing, but a grown-ass man does not get into myopic-creepy-shaming mode. Breastfeeding is a "relationship:" if it's not working for both people involved, it's not working period. A grown-ass man would never tell his partner, "Hey, what you want doesn't matter, you have to keep doing this because breast is best." Go home, dude. You're drunk.
Undermine Her Goals
Since a grown-ass man would never tell his partner what she should do with her body, he would never make that decision for her through underhanded power-grabs. For example: feeding the baby formula when she has said not to, or throwing out the formula leaving her with no choice but to nurse unless the baby goes hungry. (Yes. Sadly, this has happened.)
Look, we know that parents, mothers and fathers and everyone in between, have ideas about how to raise their children, and that includes feeding them. If one parent thinks another is doing something dangerous regarding the baby, there are certainly conversations to be had together and with a pediatrician. But, on the whole, if she's decided, "Hey, I am willingly taking on the lion's share of the feeding responsibilities, these are my calls to make."
Assume There's Nothing He Can Do To Help
There is so much a grown-ass man can do to help his breastfeeding partner. Seriously, I don't even know where to begin: there's just so much. He knows that while he is probably not lactating, he still has hands, feet, and words that can be of great help.
Get Squeamish Around Breast Milk
Because for goodness sake, people: it's milk. It's not a big deal. A grown-ass man doesn't get uptight about having to wash pump parts, handle breast milk storage, or seeing that his partner has leaked through her third shirt in a day.
Belittle Her Struggles
A grown-ass man knows the importance of trying to consider things from someone else's perspective. That means not dismissing his breastfeeding partner's complaints, cries, groans, and emotional breakdowns as being "not so bad," but rather listening to what she's going through, telling her he's sorry she's having trouble, and asking what he can do to help. If there is something he can do, he does it. If there isn't, or if his partner can't think of anything, he helps by being willing to listen the next time, even if he's just listening to her vent.
Compare Her To Other Women
A grown-ass man never assumes that one woman's experience will be like another woman's experience. He, therefore, doesn't slip in passive-aggressive suggestions about what his partner should be doing (or is doing wrong) based on, "Well, my mother" or, "My co-worker Leslie" or, "You know on Game of Thrones, one of the characters..."
Hypothesize That The Baby Isn't Getting Enough To Eat
This is basically the meanest thing someone can do to a nursing mother. It undermines her confidence and makes her feel as though she is harming her child. Unless the child's pediatrician says this first, a grown-ass man will never suggest it. Even if a pediatrician says this first, a grown-ass man knows that this subject is to be brought up with respect and tact.
Be Unwilling To Defend Her Choices
A grown-ass man would not sit idly by while someone else spouts judgmental, immature, half-informed, overly-personal garbage regarding his partner's choice. I mean, he doesn't have to challenge anyone to a duel (we've all heard Hamilton by now, folks: duels are always a spectacularly bad idea that wind up with me crying through the next couple songs), but he stands up with and beside her, to remind other people that what she chooses to do with her body is none of their damn business.