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How considerate should I be of DH's feelings?
~ A Message Board Archive
From tgreaney: My ds is almost 5 months and is exclusively breastfed. Here's my problem. I'm not exactly sure when I want to stop nursing. Right now I don't have any desire to breastfeed after one year, I'm just not comfortable with the idea of breastfeeding a toddler (I might change my mind when the time comes though - who knows). When I first got pregnant, dh said that I should only nurse for a couple of weeks and then (after I picked my jaw up off of the floor) I went off at him and explained all of the benefits of breastfeeding and the cost of formula and how special it was, etc. and since then, the topic hasn't come up. I guess that I assumed that I had successfully swayed him to see all the wonderful benefits of breastfeeding. About a week ago I asked him his opinion on when ds should be weaned and he admitted that he wasn't really comfortable with me breastfeeding this long.
Now, I'll be the first to admit that my dh is somewhat of a Neanderthal at times, but should I even take his feelings into account? I'm like all the other gals on this board that get weepy at the thought of my sweet baby all cuddled up to me and nursing away and then looking up at me with love in his eyes and giving me a milky smile. How sensitive should I be to how dh feels?
From m: I tend to think that the breastfeeding relationship is between mother and child and when to wean is a personal decision between mom and baby. I understand that you can't ignore dh's feelings on the matter, but you can try to get to the bottom of them. This is what I have been doing.
My dh thinks that once a year is up that should be it. He says after that it's a little gross (his words, not mine). I tell him to get his gross mind out of the gutter; there's nothing gross about it! Hee, hee! DH and I are able to talk about it without it getting heated though, so I don't know how set yours is on the matter. Mine has recognized that it's really up to me and Frankie, whether or not he's comfortable with it. But he supports me because he knows that I know what I'm doing.
I think the important thing here is that your feelings are based on wanting what's best for you and your child, where dh's feelings are based on cultural norms and not getting past the sexuality of breasts. I'm making assumptions here that may not apply, but do you know what I mean?
It could be that he's just never seen an older baby nursing or any baby nursing for that matter, so it just isn't normal to him. Do you have any friends that breastfeed? Introducing him to other families who breastfeed and other husbands who support it is an idea.
From Raven: Dh and I have had a similar problem. Every now and again we get into a more then heated debate about where the nursing is going. First he was against my nursing ds when we found out that I was pregnant again. Dh finally owed up to the fact that he thought that it would run my body out and cause me to become sick and harm the baby to be. One fight later, after my trying to clue him in on the benefits and how things work, we finally worked things out. But that is when he said that he didn't want me to nurse ds and a new baby at the same time. I'm assuming that he's saying this for the already stated health reasons and he probably doesn't think that it can be done.
My advice is that yes, the weaning time should be a decision made by the mother and child. But I also think that you should find out why your dh is so against nursing and then you might be able to explain things to him better.
From Robina: I personally would tell your husband to get over it (I would actually probably be ruder than that if he were my DH!). I've been thinking about this a lot over the past couple of weeks and have decided that I am a FIERCE advocate of breastfeeding and the breastfeeding relationship. If, for some reason, breastfeeding gives your husband the willies, that's his problem, not yours or your baby's. If it's affecting your relationship with him, I would maybe wonder if he is concerned about something other than the breastfeeding--if so, you can try to find that out and work on that. I hope that all helps; I didn't mean to start preaching, but like I said, I feel strongly about this!
From Gayesy: I think we do need to be sensitive to our DHs feelings; however, we also need to do what we believe is right by our babies. You are not harming your DH by continuing to breastfeed (he just feels a bit uncomfortable but he can cope with that I am sure!), but it COULD harm your baby to give up breastfeeding early.
Why not give your DH some info to read about breastfeeding? Our Cubby is a good place to start. Pointing out that the AAP recommends breastfeeding for at least 12 months and the WHO recommends it for at least two years might help too. Remind him that if you wean before the 12-month mark, you will need to buy formula, which will cost $20 to $30 per week. Your baby could also get more ear infections and other illnesses too, which would require more medical costs (not to mention suffering).
I hope he can become a bit more supportive of breastfeeding or at the very least will respect that you have thought this through carefully and are doing what is best for your baby.
From emmabsmom: I think that you should explore why he is ambivalent toward breastfeeding. I have found that people who are discontented by my continued breastfeeding just don't know anything about it other than "baby sucking on boobies." I read that you talked to your husband about the benefits, etc so I wonder what his discomfort is stemming from. My advice is to continue breastfeeding until you are ready to wean. Also, tell your husband how important it is to you to have his support on this and all other matters concerning the welfare of your son. You are doing the best possible thing for your child and he should also want what's best for your child. This will only be the first of many uncomfortable things that you as parents will have to do in your child's best interest. Good luck!!
From ACheryl: My dh has been really great about me breastfeeding our two boys but he is one of those who thinks after one year it's just gross. His words are "when they can ask for it, it's gross," and he's mistaking Ethan's knowing where it is, as asking for it. He's said a couple of times, it's about time to wean him huh? I just ignore him.
The other night though he tried to tactfully say how he's surprised after nursing two kids that my breasts are saggy, lol. In your case I think you should let your dh know that your baby needs breastmilk or formula for the first year at least and given the choice of the two, breast milk is best. Show him all the benefits of it. My dh tends to be a penny pincher and not buying formula sold him!
mrsdunlap: Ummm, how old is your husband? Mine is only 22, and in keeping with most men that age, highly oversexed. Perhaps, *absolutely* no reflection on you, he believes that breastfeeding interferes with sex in some way? Maybe he's uncomfortable that some of his favorite toys now so obviously belong to your son. I'm not trying to comment on your ability to keep him happy, I'm just trying to brainstorm here, and since you said that he already knows the benefits, this is all that I can come up with. My husband had reservations about breastfeeding because of this; he thought that I wouldn't want to anymore, that it would be messy, that it would "feel weird". Have you discussed this part of nursing with him?
From lolly: I think having nursing moms around makes a world of difference. My dh was not breastfed (mom tried for weeks, no luck . . . not much support back then) and had no real exposure to it as an adult. Once around my family, and me though, he was exposed to EBF and to the ideas behind it. After hearing from the midwives how much healthier and smarter (yes, they said smarter) breastfed kids are, he became the biggest boob advocate you could meet! If I were squeamish about nursing in public, he'd promise to tell off anyone who would try to stop me. And he's a pretty private guy.
I guess it all boils down to knowing how good it is for your baby, and seeing the results first hand. I hope you can find a way to show dh how happy and healthy this makes your son! Of course I also sold him on how good cloth diapering is for ds, and now I'm getting to think disposables would make life easier, he won't hear of it!
From Delaney: All I can say on the subject is my DH made a similar comment around the same age as your baby, and I started 'supplementing' more with bottles, and Shane created an abrupt and painful end to our nursing relationship at about seven months. I should have seen it coming. I thought he was doing so well, this is great, the best of both worlds. It was not to be. I regret that. I must say in DH's defense as well, he didn't realize how much his comment affected me, and sincerely apologized later and tried to make it good, but it was too little too late at that point. Shane won't nurse. Period. SO, I hope you think long and hard about what you want and what you think is best, then talk to DH about it and work it out. You've gotten wonderful words of support and advice here, and hopefully you can use some of the info while discussing with DH. Of course you want his support. Hopefully you can get it and continue to breastfeed happily and successfully. If he does not agree with you, 'poo poo on him' as somebody said. If I could go back and do it over, I'd definitely handle it differently. Good luck!
From kellyl: When I asked my dh once why he loved me, he said, "Because you breastfeed my baby girl." Would you like to borrow him for a while to teach your dh some things??? I never thought I would love breastfeeding so much, but now I can't imagine anything else.
Get to the bottom of it and take care of yourself . . .
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