Looking back on those early weeks of breastfeeding, I can (now) admit that I was pretty clueless. I mean, I was trying (oh man, was I trying) but there was so much to learn, and so little time to learn it. I can only imagine how overwhelmed my partner must have felt. I mean, on top of figuring out a newborn, I was also asking him to help me figure out breastfeeding. Thankfully, he was up for the challenge, and before long, he was showing me that he was figuring out all the things every grown-ass man should know about breastfeeding. He was helping me with latching, grabbing the nursing pillow from the other room at regularly scheduled intervals, bringing me food and drinks, and positioning the baby in my lap.
On the surface, it can seem like breastfeeding is strictly between mom and baby, but my partner was quick to prove otherwise, staying right by my side the whole time (okay, maybe not the whole time, a man’s gotta sleep and I get that) and really reminding that feeding your baby, whether it's with a breast or a bottle, is a team effort that both parenting partners should be involved in. Just because my cisgender, male partner couldn't experience breastfeeding for himself, didn't mean that he shouldn't know just as much as I did, about it. After all, I was feeding his baby too, and how your baby is fed should be something every parent is well versed in.
So if you're either breastfeeding or preparing to breastfeed, and want your grown-ass man to know what's involved and how he can help, make sure he knows the following:
It’s Natural, Which Means It's Not Weird
Maybe your partner has never seen a baby breastfeed before, so it can be somewhat understandable if the initial sight is somewhat shocking. However, that shock should be extremely short-lived and promptly followed by a, "Wow, this is so amazing!" because, well, it is.
His Partner (Or Any Woman Who Does It) Is Working Hard
And by "working hard," I mean,"slaving away at the whims of a nonverbal dictator." There's a reason the term often associated with breastfeeding is "on demand."
The Baby Is Getting Exactly What They Need
Breast milk is made so that it's the perfect combo of fats and nutrients and protein so your baby doesn't need anything else for the first six months. As tempted as he may be to get your baby to taste a cheeseburger, it's just not necessary (or recommended).
There Are Benefits For Mom, Too
And I'm talking about benefits beyond being required to sit quietly multiple times a day. It lowers the risk of some cancers and other diseases, it helps with pregnancy weight loss, and it gives you an excuse to binge watch your shows of choice.
He Can Help
There are plenty of ways a partner can pitch in with breastfeeding. Sometimes, help might look like making something to eat, taking on extra chores, or changing extra diapers.
NO SERIOUSLY, HE CAN HELP
Or, sometimes it could look like making an appointment with a lactation consultant, reading about breastfeeding positions, burping the baby, or handing you the phone the you dropped. The sky's the limit.
It's Not The Only Way To Feed A Baby
Despite everyone's best efforts, if breastfeeding doesn't go as planned, there are still other options.
She Needs Support...
Oh, hey, maybe you've heard that breastfeeding can be hard? If taking on actual tasks isn't in the cards, then encouragement and kindness would also go a long way.
...But She's In Charge
Even if you have the best of intentions, you might want to let her make the final decision on all things nipple-related. Actually, now that I think about it, perhaps this would even be a good life motto.