One dad's breastfeeding journey

One Dad’s Breastfeeding Journey

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Breastfeeding from a dad’s perspective? Really? Yes. In the second in their series of personal interviews around breastfeeding, The Perfect Pair interview Paul and share an intriguing account of one dad’s journey.

Paul with eldest daughter

Everyone, meet Paul, a special Dad who is close to our hearts. Paul is going to answer the same set of questions as our last interviewee, Emily, and give us some from-the-heart Dad insight.

Paul is a married, full time working Dad of three children aged 7, 6 and 3. Paul would like us to mention that in his ‘spare’ time he is an avid triathlete and completed an Ironman last year, together with raising lots of money for the NCCA UK charity by cycling across Britain two years running. Go Paul!

Paul, briefly tell us the breastfeeding story of your wife and children.

With our eldest, there was no breastfeeding expectation. I had no idea about anything to do with raising a child. My first memories of feeding are of the hardship and sore nipples my wife experienced, after she decided to stop feeding, the bonding that I experienced giving my son a bottle at the end of a long working day.

With number 2, and then number 3, the knowledge that breastfeeding was the better way forward but having to deal with the jealousy of having a different bonding experience, but also enjoying not having to get up in the night to make bottles. My wife was very protective and stubborn (and still is! – says Vikki), so I also made sure I knew where the nipple cream was and had tissues on hand for 2am tears.

From my perspective it would have always been to my benefit to formula feed for the bonding. With number 3 it was the norm, there was no other way we would do it.

Why did you as a family choose to breastfeed?

What you mean is: “why did you accept your wife’s choice to breastfeed?” We had our first homebirth back in 2006 and there was no support locally. We had no antenatal education and basic know how. We never discussed feeding, it just kind of happened. It didn’t go well. My wife ‘asked for permission’ to stop feeding.

With number two, my wife felt a lot of guilt over stopping breastfeeding our eldest. I struggled to understand and agree with her guilt at the time – particulalry with the tears, the sore nipples and all those 3am conversations. She was determined to an almost fundamentalist point of view to succeed. She’s a strong woman and she battled through (even though selfishly I couldn’t help thinking it would be easier and better for me to arm up a bottle of formula or expressed breast milk).

So I made the effort to educate myself about the benefits of breastfeedin. I admit I struggle to understand why parents wouldn’t even give it a go and I am shocked when I hear people are offended about feeding in public. When number 3 arrived it was our norm. Between number 1 and 3 the learning journey evolved through support, knowledge and a lifestyle choice.

What is your happiest breastfeeding moment?

My happiest moment is remembering the satisfaction my wife had when learning a new position to feed in.

And your hardest moment?

My wife not being interested in doing anything away from the babies, whilst feeding. She spent one night away at a works thing and when she came home she cried with relief and never left them again.

What is your one must have piece of equipment?

Can I choose two? A spare tube of Lansinoh nipple cream and a microwave steriliser.

One piece of breastfeeding wisdom?

Can we change that question to read ‘A note from a Dad?’ instead, because from a man’s point of view there is nothing more natural and normal than a mother feeding her baby! No, men don’t look and think wow “BOOBS”, or “where do I look”, to be honest, I don’t think anything at all, as it’s completely normal. If/when I do think about it, I think of the determination and strength that my wife went through and the rewards we received. And I think she’s amazing. I won’t lie, for a family it can be hard at the start, but the benefits far outway the negatives.

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