What if Men Could Breastfeed Too?

breastfeedingI was cruising around on Mommyish this morning and found a link to a Slate article published earlier this summer about a man who was determined to breastfeed. I was immediately fascinated by the idea. Breastmilk (or colostrum) was Mason’s first food and I took breastfeeding very seriously — so seriously that I drove myself and everyone around me nuts about it. I tried and tried to nurse but after a month or so (and lots of tears) we switched to formula. If Chris would have been able to take over nursing duties then our experience with breastfeeding could have been completely different.

Note: My husband is reading this post and cringing. When he heard me share that I was having production problems with another breastfeeding mom on the street, he was horrified. “What the hell, Heather? Why would you share something like that with a stranger? And with her husband standing there! A guy wouldn’t walk up to another guy on the street and say ‘I’m having erection problems right now’.”  True, but I’ve found a tremendous amount of support from other moms on a variety of issues and this issue was no exception. And, for the record, Claire was in my Friday morning mommy group:)

What do you think: Breastmilk is an important first food — but would you want your hubby to be able to share nursing responsibilities, or do all of the nursing himself? Is the idea ludicrous? Offensive?

Photo source: Parents.com

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  1. by cecili

    On July 9, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Hubby said he would still make me do it then backtracked and said, “I don’t know……you do develop a bond.” So, maybe he would.

  2. by Gerald

    On July 9, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    I would breastfeed.

  3. by Tina

    On July 9, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    I would love for my husband to be able to breastfeed. It would have been great to sleep while he got up in the middle of the night to feed. At least he would have helped and yes I would love for him to bond that way too.

  4. by Kara Pena

    On July 9, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    First off, I think your husband’s reaction was ignorant. Woman are social creatures and need support. Second, breastfeeding isn’t even close to an erection problem. When breastfeeding, breasts change from a sexual organ to a survival tool for your baby. How many men can say that sperm saved their baby? None, that I know of. For me, breastfeeding was such a challenge. I spent more time crying and less time loving the people around me. Formula feeding was a blessing in disguise even though it ripped a hole in my ego. I wish my husband could have breastfed too. But I have to admit, I’m glad this is my thing, I love having my baby need me. Even if he is formulafed.

  5. by Kashmir

    On July 9, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    My husband actually wished he could breastfeed! He said he felt left out on the bonding experience that me and my daughter had and wish he could have had that too! He also felt useless when I was breastfeeding like he wasn’t doing his share or something. So he was actually happy when we switched to formula feeding at about a month old because he got to feed her too. She’s still a Mommy’s girl though! lol. I think that if men could also breastfeed, I would have probably stuck it out a lot longer! I stopped breastfeeding, mostly because I was going through postpartum depression and I felt like my milk wasn’t good enough for the baby, and that she wasn’t getting enough nutrients! I wish I had stuck it out though. She is not 15 months old though and happy, healthy, and smart! So I don’t think not b

  6. by Kashmir

    On July 9, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    reastfeeding really affected her in a negative way! (accidentally posted before I was finished!)

  7. by Mindy S.

    On July 9, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    My husband said he would. The bond you develop is incredible.

  8. by Danielle

    On July 9, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    My husband wanted to find a way to create a mock breast, but never figured it out. After exclusively breastfeeding for her first four weeks my daughter wouldn’t take to the bottle. So, it did cause a divide till I returned to work and she was forced to take a bottle of bmilk.

    Breastfeeding is so painful in the beginning I don’t know if my husband would have survived it, LOL! But I would have been happy to share the responsibility at night. And as for Mommy group discussions it can can a lot worse than breastfeeding, if they only knew.

  9. by Tyrie

    On July 9, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    I doubt my husband would want to but truth be told after having the experience of breastfeeding my daughter I wouldn’t want to share, I would be selfish and keep that closeness for myself.

  10. by Jamie

    On July 10, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    I’ve actually told my husband that I wish he could have helped me breastfeed…I did it for a year and I enjoyed the bond and knowing I was helping my baby, but it also made me utterly exhausted and sometimes was a pain.

  11. by sdl

    On July 10, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    My husband would have been perfectly happy to breastfeed if it was possible. He was very supportive and only wanted the best for our sons, and definitely thought that nursing was the best.

  12. by Courtney

    On July 10, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    I do not think I would have shared that experience. I have always been determined to have children so when our first child came along I wanted to be with her as much as possible (which is still the case). I was lucky enough that my daughter slept through most of the night waking once or twice to eat. My only requirement for my husband was that he go grab her for me. He would get up and get her and I would feed her and then he would put her back to bed. I think our arrangement allowed for both of us to have a good balance for the experience. I am looking forward to the same experience with our next daughter (due in about 9 weeks)!

  13. by Kylie

    On July 10, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    My little guy is 19 months and still going strong with nursing. He has never taken a bottle and always nurses to fall asleep. We have such a fantastic nursing relationship, I can’t imagine it being different. I would have a hard time sharing the role of nurser, but if it were possible I probably would to give my husband the opportunity for all that bonding time.

  14. by eliza

    On July 10, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    My husband helped me breastfeed by holding my hand and praying for me while I nursed through those first few weeks of normal pain and then two severe cases of mastitis that left me hospitalized. He was with me and encouraged me through it all… I couldn’t have done it without him!

  15. by Danielle Korver

    On July 10, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    Wow! Talk about coincidence I found this about a week ago. You got to see the video. I for one formula fed and my little one and is doing great! I could not see myself trying to breast feed with all I had going on at the time (My mother dying, I was recovering from a c-section, a removal of one of my ovaries and removal of a cyst). My husband and I were able to help out more and we took turns on who was going to get a full nights of sleep.

  16. by Erica

    On July 10, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    I nursed my daughter for the first year of her life, and it was an experience I hope I will be able to have with all of my future children. The bond that we have, still, over a year after I stopped nursing, it still so important to me. My husband remarked on numerous occasion how he wished he could care for Caroline like I could and feed her like I could. He wanted that same bonding experience so much that at times, it brought him to tears to see how she looked at me while nursing. I know, without a doubt, that if he were able, he would jump on that bandwagon with enthusiasm. It broke my heart sometimes to see how “left out” he felt. I know I wouldn’t mind sharing the responsibility, and I know he would be honored to help.

  17. by Danielle Korver

    On July 10, 2011 at 7:32 pm

  18. by Bekah

    On July 10, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    My husband said that if that’s the way his body was designed, he would help bf. He even joked that if he got boobs to play with while bfing he would definitely go for it! lol

  19. by Wani

    On July 10, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    I have breastfed all three of my kids 15mos+ each. I love that I have been able to experience breastfeeding but would have appreciated being able to share the responsibilities at times. Its exhausting!

  20. by Lindsay

    On July 10, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    I can’t decide! With my first child, I lost my supply when she was only 4 months old. I went into a DEEP depression, thinking that I let her down. In that case, I would have been so grateful if my husband could have taken over. But now with my 6 month old son, I gladly breastfeed and plan to do so until he’s 18 months old. I wouldn’t want to share this time around! But for the health of my child, I would. Now supposing that my husband would do it is a totally different issue that I will never know the answer to. Hah.

  21. by Michelle

    On July 10, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    I wish my husband could. It would take such a load off my shoulders, and would be something we could share. Especially when it seems you are ALWAYS breastfeeding! Its like you stop and then it is time to start all over again.

  22. by Jen

    On July 10, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    I wish my hubbs could have known what it was like …the good, the bad and etc… BUT I wouldn’t want him to breastfeed. I was only able to breastfeed for two months due to unknown (at the time) food allergies my daughter kept reacting to (to what I ate-through the breastmilk). She had such a bad reaction once she was one huge hive-all over and the next morning she was unresponsive…so I am a bit nervous when thinking of breastfeeding again. I may not even go there. Now we know that our daughter is very allergic to nuts, carrots and eggs. So no…I wouldn’t want to put him through what I was so worried about what I was doing wrong, but it would be nice if he fully understood. They just see big boobs and think “nice” and feel sorry for themselves b/c it’s hands-off!

  23. by tammy

    On July 10, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    i think its ludicrus!!lol and gross!really? not a mans job.next,women will expect men to wear dresses,lmbo.

  24. by BD

    On July 10, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    I think it would scare the kids for life. See here

  25. by Robyn

    On July 10, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    When my daughter was a couple of months old, she was not gaining weight as quickly as she should. The dr. suggested I supplement. I wanted to keep her on the breast as much as possible, so the dr. suggested a tube that I could “tape” to the side of my breast and feed her formula while she nursed. It had a bottle that attached to the shoulder of my shirt. I don’t know if my husband would have tried to breastfeed, or not. But, I think that he could have used that tool if he wanted the bonding experience.

  26. by Melissa

    On July 10, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    It’s an interesting concept … but I have to say, on a selfish level, I love that I — and I alone — can nurse. It’s such a special bonding experience; one I didn’t understand til I became a mom.

    Even though I’m back at work now and pumping — which means either of us can give our 6-mth old her bottles at any time — I did, in some weird way, love knowing it was all falling on me. It was also the hardest part — waking up all night long where hubby genuinely couldn’t do anything except maybe change a diaper if needed.

    After she was two weeks old our daughter was having weight issues (b/c I was having supply issues) so we had to supplement formula but I was still determined to nurse as much as possible and did … I wouldn’t change that time for anything.

    Now she gets both: BM and formula. And today, she rejected the breast completely and it felt like a little bit of a slap in the face; I’m thinking our nursing days are gone. ;( But I’ll continue to pump another few months … it’s the least (read as: most!) I can do!

  27. by Heather

    On July 10, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    Thank you all for taking the time to share your thoughts! Lots of great insights:)

  28. by alice

    On July 10, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    I like the concept and am pretty sure my husband would like to do it too if he could. This is his first child he didn’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to help with, his first 2 from a previous marriage were formula fed only.

    he has told me if i pump and kept some in the fridge he would get up and feed her but i’m selfish and enjoy the bonding experience with her since she’s at daycare during the day (i pump at work but only enough to bring to daycare–when she’s w/ me at home i breastfeed her).

  29. by Norma

    On July 11, 2011 at 1:42 am

    I love the bond I have with my daughter of 6 months. I wouldn’t want to share my breastfeeding duty. Her dad helps by changing her diaper before I feed her, and burps her after she is done eating. I think we both get our fair share of bonding. Plus I love the way she reaches for me, makes me feel needed.

  30. by Sibghathullah Khan

    On July 15, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    Women are there to breastfeed and men are the breadwinners. This simple thing escapes you westerners, where women want to do all masculine jobs and wish men do the feminine jobs.

  31. by Kat

    On July 28, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    The idea of men breastfeeding may not be as far fetched as you think. I no longer have the source, but it is believed that men have nipples because our ancestors used to share the hunter/gather and child rearing roles, so men had to be able to feed their offspring. Eventually that changed and men have been left with an evolutionary left over. Personally, I think it would be fantastic if my husband could help with that. Sorry to the ladies who said they wouldn’t share, but that’s totally selfish. I can’t imagine trying to keep my child and husband from create a special bond, particularly one so precious.