…Contemplating the Core Elements of a Modern Breastfeeding Lifestyle
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Dad Walking On Egg Shells

Had an interesting call this week from a dad.  He wondered what were the chances of relactating at 7 weeks? 

And no, before you go there, it wasn’t a crank trying to get a rise out of this passionate lactation advocate.  This call was legitimate.  He was a friend of a father in my practice who had encouraged him to reach out to me across state lines to sort out his dilemma.

He called me to suss out the situation and shared a very sad, but typical scenario.  His wife, had been buffeted on the seas of lactation support with inconsistent advice, emphasis on pumping and after two weeks was summarily dismissed and told to bottle-feed.  For approximately 6 weeks now his son has been bottle-fed formula.

In general, I always prefer to speak directly with the mother.  However, his voicemail touched a heart string as he confessed that he was calling without having yet broached this subject with his wife.  He was genuinely concerned and felt badly that they were missing out on breastfeeding because of the questionable support and consultation they had received in the early weeks.  

The reason for the abrupt weaning was the usual  ”Not Enough Milk”.  This was determined, of course, by his wife’s inability to pump enough to bottle-feed after the delivery.   More bottles and pumping led to formula and weaning.  The reason it was bothering him so much was that he noticed her leaking tons of milk a few days ago.  He didn’t understand why she didn’t just offer the breast to their son as clearly there was milk.

This dad was walking on egg shells. He was the support team during the initial battles and was now fearful of incurring her wrath by bringing up the notion of trying it again.   

I can empathize.  I’m often called in for these kind of situations and find the solution is not as simple as merely choosing between offering the breast or a bottle filled with human milk or formula.  The weeks of reinforcing a behavior other than breastfeeding and living a bottle-feeding lifestyle with their new baby could make the transition difficult on many levels.  

 I complimented this dad on his thoughtful and loving inquiry.  My suggestions were simple:

найти сайт берковой елены

1.  He could now share honestly some of his impressions about that stressful time with his wife.  Sharing empathy without the stress and pressure biting at their heels.

2.  He could share some of his conversation with his friend that led him to call me.  It would be helpful to emphasize that these situations are usually not truly black and white, but rather if she were empowered and given consistent support much would be possible.

3.  He could gently suggest that she offer their son the breast without worrying now if she had enough. Without pressuring her, he could point out it would be a shame if what she was still producing for their son would ultimately go to waste.

4.  He could share what he intuitively knew, and I corroborated, that milk supply is not increased by the pump, but rather by the baby breastfeeding.  Any amount of breastfeeding would greatly increase the odds of them being able to shift the balance of feeds away from the bottle and back to the breast.

5.  He could continue to offer his love and support reassuring her that it was ultimately her decision.  Sometimes knowing that it is a real team effort can make these transitions seem more possible.

Breastfeeding is a relationship and is relational.    It is the mother who ultimately breastfeeds and chooses whether or not she will continue or resume if there have been challenges.  However, her choices do indeed have an impact on everyone in her inner circle.  Breastfeeding does not exist in a vacuum and is very much a family affair.

How many of us sisters, moms, friends, partners, spouses, and  even lactation consultants, can identify with this dad? Have you ever been afraid to further encourage or advise a mom who had been beaten down and had weaned because of a negative experience with breastfeeding ?

Have you ever felt like you were walking on egg shells?  And what did you do?

1 comment

1 Lily { 03.14.10 at 1:25 am }

There was a young mom, the wife of one of my former students, who had switched to mostly formula and very little breastfeeding. She didn’t want to stop breastfeeding, but the path she was on was heading towards formula exclusively (she said so herself). I cannot remember the details of our conversations together. However I remember wanting to be quite sensitive to her feelings and what she wanted (whether it was to completely switch to formula or to work up her breast milk supply) but also be encouraging. She said to me later that it was thanks to me that she went back to nursing/breastfeeding exclusively; she needed some encouragement. She breastfed her first daughter for a long time (around 2 yrs old or more). For moms who desire to breastfeed, I really want to be a source of encouragement, especially since some of my own journey as a breastfeeding mom has been so difficult. None of this is to say that mothers who formula feed their babies are any less mothers or that they don’t really care about their babies; not at all.

Leave a Comment