Today for the infant feeding series this guest poster offers a perspective we don’t often get to hear. There has been a lot of media coverage lately about breastfeeding and sexuality and how it affects our marriages, our bodies and our relationships. Today, my husband Ryan is offering his perspective on breastfeeding, marriage and parenting.
When my wife first asked me to do a guest post for her breastfeeding series I was a little confused as to what exactly I would be able to add to the conversation as I’ve obviously never breastfeed a baby. I though it was pretty funny when Peter Griffen gave it a try on Family Guy, creepy for sure but very funny. Then she explained that she was interested in getting a male perspective on how breastfeeding affects the way we raise our children and our relationship.
While I was trying to organize my thoughts on my male perspective I remembered a very controversial article about the negative effects breastfeeding can have on a marriage that I read a few months back. The article I’m referring to is titled Moms, Don’t Forget to Feed Your Marriages and was written by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. If you’ve not read it, it may be beneficial for you to read over it before reading on as I’ll be referring to it through out this post. It can be found at this link:
Read it? Familiar with it? Good. Let’s move on then. So let me start by saying although I think the Rabbi makes some valid and interesting points, I disagree with a good 80% – 90% of what he’s written. I think if you were to sum up all of what he’s written into a general statement of “don’t entirely forget about your marriage while you breastfeed,” then it would be good advice to follow. There is a delicate balance between caring for a child and each other that the couple should strive for. I do believe that he had that general message in mind when he put forth the advice that he did. However I feel that message got lost when he used an extreme example of a couple in a troubled marriage to provide general advice to the masses.
The article blames failed marriages and adultery on a lack of sexual desire between partners and then pinpoints breastfeeding as a cause of that problem. In a nutshell it puts all the onus on the women to make sure that her spouse is sexually satisfied. Apparently it’s a cardinal sin “to put someone else before her spouse, even if that someone is your child.” It also says that it can feel the same as an extramarital affair “when a mother gives her breasts to her son and takes them away from her husband.” I think this is an unrealistic male sense of entitlement.
My wife and I have three children. The first two were breastfeed for a short period and then moved on to bottles. Our third child has been exclusively breastfeed. My perspective on the subject covers both options of bottle and breast. In my experience exclusively breastfeeding is nothing for the husband to complain about. If any thing it’s like winning the lottery. Guys, I’m telling you that you should do everything in your power to encourage your wife to stick with breastfeeding. When the baby’s hungry at 3am and you’re not the one with a milk supply, you have nothing to be upset over. If your wife has decided to exclusively breastfeed then she has willing taken on most of the hard work of looking after a new born. She should be thanked for accepting that responsibility, not accused of destroying a marriage. Children need to eat. Breast were designed to feed them. If this is a problem for you then don’t have a child.
I do not miss bottles in anyway shape or form. I hate bottles. I hate formula. Formula kinda smells funny and babies always seem to find a way to have it leak all over them. Cleaning bottles is a tedious chore. Formula is expensive. I hate trying to feed a baby a bottle at ridiculous hours of the night to calm them down. I repeat, I do not miss bottles.
The article advises that a mother should cover up when breastfeeding her child to avoid decreasing the sexual attractiveness of her breast for her husband. I’ve never found my wife’s breast to lose any sex appeal because my child is feeding from them. The connection a mother and child have when breastfeeding is a truly beautiful and natural thing. If you are having jealousy issues and can’t separate sexuality and nourishment for your children, that’s your problem, not your wife or your child’s. Go cover your own eyes if you can’t deal with it.
As for sexuality, it does play a very important role in marriage. Having a child is a stress on any sex life regardless of whether the baby is bottle or breast fed. In the example used in the article the couples’ sex life had come to a complete stop. In no way do I pretend to be a marriage counselor but I would have to venture a guess that if that’s the case, there’s a lot more then just breastfeeding preventing that intimacy. And again I’d like to point out how out of place it is to use such an extreme example to offer general advice.
Have you seen how large engorged breast get? If anything breastfeeding can increase the sex appeal of the breasts. Unless large breast are not your thing, and to each their own, but I like it. This may be too much information and a little taboo for people, but for the sake of this post I’ll put it out there that breast milk taste good. Instead of it being a hindrance it can actually add to the enjoyment of a sexual experience. If that is odd for you to hear just think about where the milk in the carton in your fridge is coming from and then think of which one you’d rather drink from the source.
Well now that I’ve weird-ed out any of my relatives who read that last paragraph I’m going to wrap things up by saying my wife’s choice to exclusively breastfeed has been a wonderful experience and I’m hard pressed to find any negative consequences to the decision we made. That’s my male perspective on the subject and I encourage all husbands to support their wife’s decision to breastfeed your children.