Having a child reveals sides of your partner you never knew existed. You’ll see what they’re like when they haven't slept, how they react when someone else’s bodily fluids are on their pants, and how they deal with a person crying for two straight hours (whether it's you or the baby). You'll also (or should also) witness them stepping up and supporting you in new ways; with diapers and snuggles and naps and in ways that push your partner outside of their previously lush comfort zone. For cisgender men who can't possibly experience breastfeeding, moms who nurse will see firsthand (hopefully) just what grown-ass men do when their partner breastfeeds.
Just because mom and baby are temporarily occupied, doesn’t mean dad gets to totally ditch all the other responsibilities that go along with parenthood. I mean, unless you guys have some kind of arrangement where dad can engage in those stereotypical "man activities" that our society has attempted to convince the masses only men get to experience and enjoy and indulge in (like video games and beer and endless hours of web-surfing) while you feed your child and parent solo (which, I mean, I'm not one to judge if you do have that set up in your home) then dad should be sharing the parenting role anyway that he can. Breastfeeding can be a good time for him to help and participate in and complete the other tasks of parenthood, as well as adulthood in general.
So, with that in mind, please allow me to offer this handy list of suggested activities for grown-ass men to engage in while the ladies in their life are busy with breastfeeding:
He Brings Mom A Glass Of Water...
Was it just me, or did an unquenchable thirst sink in 2.5 seconds after the baby's first swallow? If I didn't have water, or something else to drink within arm's reach, I'd look at my husband so desperately that he probably thought I was going to ask for oxygen.
...Or Anything Else She Might Need
Real talk: some of my earliest breastfeeding sessions could take an hour. An entire hour, you guys. There is nothing worse than sitting still for an hour, while you are exhausted and probably in some uncomfortable position, unable to sleep or (sometimes) even move. Unless, of course, an angel delivers your phone to you and ensures that the wifi in your home is working and sets up Netflix so you a show to assist you in passing the time.
He Has No Problem With Mom Deciding What's On TV
If she happens to be in a room with a television, she should have control over what's on it. If there's a disgreement? Well, that's what DVR is for, friends.
He Does Some Extra Chores
Cooking not your thing? There's probably some laundry that needs to be done or some cleaning that could be accomplished or some bills that probably need to be paid. Honestly, the list of responsibilities associated with running a household is never ending, so there will be something dad can do.
He Offers Mom A Foot Rub Or A Back Rub
I mean, as long as you're on a roll with acts of service, why not take care of her, too? Most moms I know almost never turn down back rubs and, chances are, her back and shoulders are sore from sitting in a position that isn't very comfortable, but ensures her baby can latch.
He'll Cook Her A Meal
One of the single greatest things my partner has ever done for me is take over dinner duty during our son's first weeks at home, and simply stating that since I was handling our baby's food, he would handle ours. It's been two years and I'm still talking about it because it made such a difference to me. Partners, I implore you, consider doing the same, even if it's just temporary.
He Simply Spends Time With Her
Obviously, you know your partner better than I do, but sometimes my husband's presence made a bigger impact than, say, loading the dishwasher would have.
He Encourages Her If Breastfeeding Is A Struggle
It's not like there's a ton of downtime when you're a new parent, so breastfeeding can actually be a good time to check in with one another. When else can you be certain that your baby's occupied and your partner will be remaining in one place?
He Doesn't Act Awkward Or Squeamish
You're probably not used to seeing your partner's breasts out in the wild amongst strangers or family members, but still; I don't recommend being weird about it. Last I checked, breastfeeding couldn't happen without breasts, so let's all be adults about it, shall we?
He Helps Her Work Through Potential Problems (If She Wants Help)
My husband accompanied me on multiple visits to a lactation consultant, so I often leaned on him to help me recreate the positions we learned there. It may sound weird (to some) to say that he was crucial in my personal breastfeeding process, but he totally was.
He Acknowledges Her Efforts
It's not always easy, you guys. And by, "not always easy," I mean, "sometimes it feels impossible," so she will likely appreciate you recognizing that she's working hard and trying her best. Well all need a little encouragement and acknowledgement, from time to time.
He Takes Care Of Himself So He Can Bring His A-Game
What, you didn't think I'd make it to the bottom of the list without acknowledging that new dads need a little self-care too, did you? And not just because no one wants to be around a cranky, unclean man. Mostly, it's because you're probably working super-hard at parenting, too so, yes, you totes deserve to bathe and take care of yourself and have some "me" time.