Whether you breastfeed or not (and for how long) is an entirely personal decision. Like all decisions involving our bodies, our partners actually don't get a say or a vote, but there are some ways every grown-ass man should respond when hearing his partner say, "I'm ready to stop breastfeeding." Things that make women feel supported, heard. and validated.
My husband was a huge breastfeeding advocate right from the start. He brought me snacks and endless glasses of water while I nursed, and always offered a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear when I needed to vent about any problems I was experiencing or just on those days when I felt touched out. As our son got older, I would occasionally say, "I think it might be time to wean." And each time my husband would listen and talk it through with me. In the end, my son self-weaned, but I knew and clearly understood that my husband had my back whatever my decision may have been.
Breastfeeding, unfortunately, can be a polarizing topic. As a result, moms need as much support as they can get throughout the entire journey. Once it comes time to stop breastfeeding (which is a decision that can only be made by the individual mother and the baby), all grown-ass men should be willing to say the following things:
"Are You Sure?"
Partners need to ask this question very carefully, and make sure it doesn't come across as judgmental or condescending. After all, the last thing us women need in this country is more men telling us what to do with our bodies (or at least acting like we can't make these decisions for ourselves).
However, lots of breastfeeding mamas feel (at times) like they want to stop nursing, then go on to feed for longer. It doesn't hurt to make sure she really wants to stop and that there isn't something else she needs first (like a break or more support or an appointment with a lactation consultant).
"How Can I Help?"
Whether a mom has been breastfeeding for a week or a year, there are going to be some challenges as she weans; like coping with her milk supply, buying and preparing formula and bottle supplies, and transitioning baby off the breast. During this transition all grown-ass men, basically, need to do anything and everything that mom needs you to do.
"What Do You Need?"
A weaning mom may have mixed emotions about this stage, so offering your assistance in any way she needs it — either emotional support or in practical tasks, like purchasing formula and heating bottles — is the least you can do when she has been making liquid gold.
As well as the emotional changes, she may experience breast pain and require some medical advice from her doctor, too. Weaning is best done gradually, to help mom and baby to adjust, so ask how you can help.
At whatever stage a mom decides she is ready to stop breastfeeding, a little praise can go along way. Moms often feel, unfairly, some guilt when they choose to wean their baby (or their baby chooses for them). Instead, they should feel proud of any amount of breast milk they were able to provide for their baby.
Any time, or no time at all, is the right time to stop breastfeeding because, well, mom is always the boss!
Mothers are amazing human beings. At any given time they're growing, delivering, nurturing, caring for, and feeding a baby from our bodies. I mean, that's a feat men can only marvel at, so go right on ahead and tell her how amazing she truly is. Chances are, she'll agree.