I don't get warm and fuzzy feelings when I think back on my time breastfeeding. It was hard. Like, really hard. And my postpartum depression (PPD) made the hard even harder. Without the support of my partner, I know I wouldn't have made it through. Not only was he by my side during every agonizing feeding session, but he always knew the right thing to say at the exact time I needed to hear him say it. There are definitely things that'll never come out of a loving partner's mouth when you're breastfeeding, which is just one of the many reasons why I know my husband is, indeed, a loving partner. In a stressful time "your person" should be a source of comfort, and that's exactly what my husband was for me.
My first time breastfeeding in my hospital room was nothing short of a disaster. I'd researched as much as one possible could about nursing and what to expect, but when my brand new baby was laid on my chest I realized how little I truly knew about breastfeeding. My daughter cried and I cried but, thankfully, my partner didn't. He encouraged me to keep trying and promised to help however he could. As a new mom it was the first time I was challenged in a way I couldn't have prepared for (and it wouldn't be the last) so it meant the world that my partner was right there with me.
My partner was everything a new mom like me needed. He didn't press me to keep breastfeeding when I knew I couldn't, and he wasn't disappointed when I finally decided to give up nursing. Ultimately, he became the partner and father I knew he would be. So with that in mind, and because every new mom needs support, here are some things that would never, ever, come out of a loving partner's mouth when you're doing your damnedest to care for your baby.
"I'll Be Over There"
Loving partners would never say they'll be over there, doing whatever, or even think of letting you go through the highs and lows (mostly lows, if your experience is anything like mine) of breastfeeding, unless you ask for the space to do it solo. My partner, when home, was right by my side at every attempt, every wince, and every tear shed. He offered support when I felt I was failing, and relief when I eventually pumped so he could feed our daughter.
"You're Doing It Wrong"
If your partner ever has the balls to say, "You're doing it wrong," it's time for a serious talk. No loving partner would suggest — during an already unfathomably intense and emotional time — that you're breastfeeding wrong and whatever problems you're experiencing are your fault.
If you're not nursing "correctly," you'll figure it out on your own time. A loving partner uses positive encouragement, not negative reinforcement, because that would only add to your increasing levels of stress. It might even change your opinion on wanting to breastfeed altogether.
"Let Me Ask My Mom"
Yeah. Um, thanks, but no thanks. If I need my partner's mom's advice or opinion on anything, I'll be the one to ask. Besides, I'm already aware of everyone else's opinion on the whole breastfeeding thing. It's so personal, whether I'm "failing" or "succeeding" should stay between me and whoever I decide to share my thoughts and feelings with.
"Maybe We Should Go To Formula"
Despite my numerous attempts to breastfeed exclusively, I did finally decide it was time to pump and supplement with formula. Key words being: I did finally decide. Me, as the breastfeeding partner, made that choice all on my own. After all, we're talking about my body, people.
A loving partner isn't the first to make the suggestion or encourage one choice over the other. Instead, they're simply an enthusiastic member of your personal cheering section.
"This Was A Bad Idea"
Maybe it was. Maybe, like me, you've realized breastfeeding is harder than you ever imagined and maybe you want to quit. But it's not your partner's place to tell you so. If things go south, you'll get there on your own. All you need to hear is, "What4ever you think is best." Again, it's your body, your choice.
"We're In Over Our Heads"
No kidding, right? When I sat down to feed my baby, I knew the moment she refused me (which happened every single time, by the way) I was in over my head. But, like, what was I supposed to do other than try to tough it out? I didn't need my partner to remind me how difficult everything was. I only needed him to be there with a positive attitude and, sometimes, a really big hug.
The absolute worth thing that could ever come out of a partner's mouth would be nothing. Nada. Zilch. I didn't want to hear any of the above, but I also wanted to hear something encouraging about how I was doing as a mother and regardless of whether or not breastfeeding would fail or succeed. A loving partner knows the things to say and do, and at the end of the day, supports whatever choice you make for your baby. And you.
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