Enough has been said and done about men’s attitudes towards breastfeeding women. But what about the attitude of husbands towards their breastfeeding wives? This is a bigger concern because he is a significant part of your life, and his attitude and behavior towards you counts more than the stranger who gave you a stare as you breastfed your child. It is your body, your breasts, and your baby. Give this stranger, who abhors public breastfeeding, a damn. So for a while, let’s zip the wide mouths that utter unsolicited words. Let’s talk about the man you had your child with and with whom you will raise the child together and stick with each other through the thicks and thins.
Several women have confessed about their husband’s changing attitudes once they start breastfeeding their babies. While most new moms go through anxious phases of the newly found motherhood and succumb to exhaustive breastfeeding sessions, some husbands are overcome with jealousy with the newbie stealing all their time with their wife. While they might not complain outwardly, they do go a little crazy. Your little one, who still is a bit of an alien, has already seized its father’s domain called breasts. Whereas the little human digs in his head into your parts, your man can’t do that for weeks or months or even years.
While more and more men are getting educated about the importance of breastfeeding and more and more men allow their wives to breastfeed, there is a threshold level that can keep your husband waiting. It’s good that we have moved over the past century where men inhibited women from breastfeeding. However, what if a wife breastfeeds her child for not one or two, but five years? New York Times’ blogger James Braly brought about the issue in one of his blogs where he blamed his wife’s breastfeeding their five-year-old as a reason for the death of his sex life. He has gone as far to weigh out a couple’s sex life against social consequences! Braly has stated in his blog that when a man loses interest in his companion, no wonder he yields to solicited extramarital sex, but it also affects his family, the society of families, and eventually the environment bearing the brunt. There will be a sudden need for an extra everything – -right from a ziplock bag to an extra car which means more and more fumes into ozone. I am amazed how a failing marriage can have a farfetched impact on mother nature!
On the other hand, nature gifted women with breasts as their primary sexual characteristic. But it’s the capacity of the mammary glands to make milk for her young one that classifies human beings as mammals. Now get over the taxonomic value to what Julia Roberts asks Hugh Grant in Notting Hill, “What’s so interesting in breasts?” It was quite a valid question, I thought, because they seem interesting until the baby arrives. But isn’t it the act of feeding her baby that exalts a woman to a more venerated position?
So scientifically, emotionally, and for the sake of the mother-child bonding, a husband cannot defile breastfeeding no matter for whatever lengths of time a child is breastfed. In this light, I also doubt Braly’s conclusion that women should abstain from extended breastfeeding lest their husbands wander towards other women. It also moots the question of why men would want to get married in the first place and impregnate their wives and then deprive their children of appropriate nourishment.
In another event, a start-up bottle company called Bittylab used an anti-breastfeeding slogan, a bit pro-men on Twitter, “New baby? Reclaim your wife. Meet BARE™ air-free.” The approach incurred much public wrath; that was soon followed by apologies, and it all made too much for a start-up to find ground. But it doesn’t resolve the secretly held apprehensions of men around breastfeeding.
Spousal support is crucial for breastfeeding. Studies have suggested that a good percentage of women don’t breastfeed under the pressure of their spouse. While more and more young men are aware and are supportive of their partners breastfeeding their child, the less fortunate women with partners not very encouraging still withhold feeding. But these men also need to understand romance can wait and that there is plenty of scope and room for it. The way men fail in this matter is self-inflicted rather than something coming from their wives. Somehow, men believe they have a better right to their wife’s breasts than their babies. Quite a few cling on to the age-old beliefs and influence a woman’s choice to breastfeed her baby. And worse, they can’t see the fun in fuller breasts that nursing moms have.
So men out there, there is nothing like ‘reclaiming your wife’ after she has given you a child. There is more than sex that holds a marriage together. The very unromantic baby-poop and burp sessions could serve to bring couples together – provided you can see beyond your wife’s assets for some time. It’s time for some evolution.