Breastfeeding is a labor of love. There’s that very first latch and the long nights of feedings. It is a rollercoaster of ups and downs.
A nursing mother goes through the newness of the newborn breastfeeding stage. As a first time mother this will likely begin with pain and soreness on your breasts. Your breasts adjust to nursing as you and your baby learn each other. In the beginning your child seems to need to be attached to you all day long.
Uninterrupted sleep becomes a distant memory as your baby nurses around the clock. You wonder if you’re doing the entire thing right. Yet somehow your nursing baby seems to know what to do. In the end you simply follow their lead and the two of you get the hang of things.
By the time you know it your little baby is an energetic toddler. Some may have already weaned for one reason or another. Still others are latching onto the boob more than ever before.
As a nursing toddler your little one wants to breastfeed anytime anywhere. They teach you the true meaning of the phrase, ‘on demand’. You might be in the middle of church. Or meeting someone for the first time. The environment makes no difference to your breastfeeding toddler.
They will practically claw at your shirt until their demands are met. This often makes for some awkward situations. Yet you’re still enchanted with your little one. Each time you breastfeed and gaze into their eyes you fall in love all over again.
You go through these ups and downs all for the benefit of your child. The many advantages of breastfeeding have been hammered into your brain. You know that despite the challenging moments they're getting the best stuff out there.
Somewhere in the midst of all the positives of nursing your relationship can suffer. What is rarely discussed is how breastfeeding can negatively impact a spousal relationship.
This isn't a knock against breastfeeding. We all know it’s amazing. This is an honest look at how this breastfeeding can strain your relationship.
So breastfriends, let's have an honest chat about how breastfeeding can potentially ruin your relationship.
15 You Feel Touched Out
Breastfeeding involves a lot of skin contact. They don’t call those first few moments with your newborn skin-to-skin for nothing.
This constant proximity to your young one can be overwhelming. A mother can feel suffocated and just want some space away - from everyone. Including her partner. Her spouse may want intimacy want no parts of it.
Experts suggest a woman create physical and emotional space. They say a woman should honor how she feels. So find the space to emotionally decompress.
Remember, there are many ways to show your child love and attention. They don’t always have to involve your child crawling all over you. Know that feeling touched out is a normal feeling while breastfeeding. Also remember that this feeling won’t last forever. There will be times that you miss the constant touch with your baby.
14 Insecurity Over Sagging Boobs
Breastfeeding is a beautiful and healthy bonding experience. Yet it does come with some side effects.
All that constant sucking may seen to be causing your breasts change shape. They ebb and flow from full of milk to saggy like a pancake. Once your child has weaned they can appear significantly flatter than they once looked. Sagging can cause a woman to feel extremely self conscious of how she looks. She can feel insecure in front of her partner and avoid intimacy. These feelings can drive wedge in a relationship.
Having a loving and supportive partner can help a woman get through this phase. A good partner will love you as you are. They’ll recognize the changes in your breasts as part of human nature. This kind of encouragement can help heal any insecurity a mother may be feeling. With time the mother will hopefully love her newly shaped breasts as they are.
13 Hubby Feels Left Out
Having a new baby changes your lifestyle a lot. The moment the baby cries you run to their aid. You’re constantly changing diapers and keeping them entertained. Several times a day you whip out your boob to feed them. Breastfeeding requires a lot of attention from a woman.
This can leave her husband feeling left out and even jealous. Some men may want more alone time with their partner. Others may wish they had breasts to share in the bonding and feeding. This man says he feels left out when his wife nurses their three year old.
Breastfeeding can strain a relationship if a man is not secure in his fatherly duties. He should remember the countless ways he can take part in childcare. It’s also important to understand that there will be times baby is put first. This phase is temporary and won't last forever.
12 He Thinks You’re Too Exposed
Breastfeeding babies and toddlers have no filter. It doesn't matter where you are or whose around. When they're hungry they hungry.
So it's not uncommon to have to show some skin in public to feed your little one. Many women chose not to cover up while nursing. So skin or even an entire boob may show in a public place.
Some men aren’t comfortable with their partners breasts showing in public. They especially don’t want other men seeing their wives breasts.
Now combine this attitude with a very open woman. A woman who believes there’s nothing wrong with feeding their child in public. A rift can arise.
In this battle there’s generally one person who's always guaranteed to win. Baby.
You have two options. Either breastfeed the child or deal with an extremely annoyed baby in public. Men against public breastfeeding will quickly learn they're no match for a screaming hungry baby.
11 Hormones Decrease Libido
Many women report a significantly decreased sex drive while they’re breastfeeding. They may have little to no interest in sex and cant understand why. These feelings catch many nursing mothers off guard.
All of these hormonal changes are like mother nature’s natural birth control. Your body is essentially geared towards the survival of your baby. This can lower a woman’s sex drive.
When a woman isn’t interested in sex her partner can feel unloved. However low sex drive doesn’t mean a woman doesn’t love her partner.
One solution to this problem is to keep the lines of communication open with dad. Setting aside special time for dates is another way to bring back lost feelings. Your libido will likely increase after you wean. If it doesn’t you should consider seeing a sex therapist or counselor.
10 Night Nursing Replaces Intimacy Time
Babies, especially younger infants, nurse around the clock. The average newborn can nurse eight to twelve times a day. My 21 month old still nurses two to three times a night.
So, a baby makes a huge different on your nightlife. Before children after dark was prime time for intimacy. Now they’re monopolized by feedings.
Couples can find it difficult to make time for lovemaking and intimacy. The days feel taken up by household and parenting duties. The nights are taken over by night nursing. Where does sex fit into any of this? Partners may struggle to find time for each other.
One solution is to find ways to work around night feedings. Start by forgetting about night time being the optimal period for intimacy. There’s no rule that says intimacy and affection can only kick off after dark.
Get creative with your schedule. Schedule time for each other - even if it's something as simple as twenty minutes of foot massaging. Naptime can be a great opportunity.
9 He Snores While You’re Up Nursing
Mom is usually the first to attend to baby at night. This happens naturally because she’s the only one who can nurse baby back to sleep. Meanwhile her partner may be fast asleep.
There’s probably nothing more annoying than them snoring on top of it. This is something that can make women feel pissed off, enraged and resentful. While he wakes up in the morning refreshed you wake up a zombie.
This can seriously breed resentment towards your partner. Night nursing can literally go on for years. So if you’re not careful it can create tension in your relationship.
To keep things positive communicate with each other about night duty expectations. Something as simple as helping mom shift baby in bed can do wonders.
8 In Laws Opinions Of Breastfeeding
Sometimes our in laws’ opinions can create tensions in our relationships. This is nothing new.
Let’s say you have a breastfeeding supportive partner. Yet your mother-in-law keeps grinding your gears. She tells you that your breast milk isn't filling your baby up enough. She then suggests it’s time your young baby eats solids.
Or maybe it’s your partner’s aunt who can’t seem to mind her business. She thinks your toddler needs to be weaned. She says your extended breastfeeding is spoiling him rotten.
You graciously listen to all of the “advice” to keep things in your family civil. Behind closed doors you complain to your partner. All of this unsolicited advice from your in laws is driving you nuts. As a result you and your husband are at odds about his family members.
These types of comments can definitely cause problems in a relationship. It’s important for a couple to take other relatives opinions with a grain of salt. Your relationship is made up of two people - you and your partner. Your breastfeeding decisions are ultimately up to the two of you.
7 Spilled Milk
As a breastfeeding mother there’s one huge thing you try to avoid. Spilling the liquid gold that is pumped milk.
You spent hours each day pumping milk from each breast. It’s typically an annoying process that requires a lot of patience. You don't want any of your precious effort to go to waste. No one understands how much work this is more than you.
So imagine the frustration when your husband spills a whole bunch of pumped breastmilk. For a mom, this can be an extremely irritating accident. It can lead to a mother totally losing it and having a huge blowout with her partner.
Though super frustrating a woman has to remind herself that her partner isn't perfect. Accidents happen and there's always more milk that can be pumped. Don’t forget all the great things your partner does do. This is a needed reminder in the most trying moments of a relationship.
6 Disagreements On Weaning
Some partners disagree about when a child should be weaned. This can cause serious problems in a relationship. Long term regret and resentment can linger for years.
Sometimes a woman may not be ready to wean. Yet her partner is. He may think breastfeeding is gross. Or he may think weaning will help transition a baby into their own bed.
I recently read an account from a woman whose partner said their four month old needed to be weaned. Four months old.
Weaning before a child is ready can cause separation anxiety in a baby. It can also cause emotional issues for the mother. No mother should be pressured to end breastfeeding before her and baby are ready.
It’s important for a woman to be assertive in a situation like this. Partners of breastfeeding women should also be educated on the sensitivity around the nursing relationship between a mother and child.
5 Mom Is Exhausted
Breastfeeding can feel like a full time job. As mentioned above the average breastfeeding newborn nurses eight to twelve times a day. During the night a baby might be up every hour and a half to nurse. It’s no wonder new parents and especially mothers are absolutely exhausted.
Exhaustion often equates to low energy for intimacy and sex. It’s actually normal for most parents to have a decreased sex life for the first year of parenthood. One study found that each extra hour of sleep a woman has increases her likelihood of having sex by 14%. So scientifically speaking, sleep deprivation really leads to a lack of sex drive.
If a mother doesn’t get enough rest she can end up never wanting to be intimate. This will naturally create some awkward feelings in her relationship.
Partners can assist by helping mom get sleep wherever she can. Perhaps take the baby out of the house for a walk. This will give mom some relaxation time. Couples can even consider hiring a nanny to help out.
4 Changing Views Of Breasts
For some breastfeeding couples a woman’s breasts end up becoming purely functional.
A woman may not want her breasts to be touched as they’re now just for baby. Her partner may not want to touch her breasts in a sexual way because he correlates them with his child.
Extended breastfeeding can also be a big turn-off to many men. For couples like this boobs go off the sexual menu when there’s milk inside.
This father argued that extended breastfeeding negatively impacted men. He said that the “the foundation of the parent-child bond is the parent-parent bond." To him the relationship between the parents trumped the child parent bonding. So, if nursing a toddler turned him off, his wife needed to stop and respect his feelings.
This is another instance where seeing a therapist might be a necessary option. These are deep issues that would probably best be fleshed out by a professional.
3 Mom’s In Pain
Despite its amazing benefits the early stages breastfeeding can be very painful. You can have cracked sore nipples and wince in pain each time you nurse. This can go on for weeks. One day your breasts will finally adapt to the constant sucking of the baby.
I remember my first few weeks of breastfeeding. Nursing meant excruciating pain. I was also recovering from a C-Section so there was that pain too. I felt like no one understood just how much discomfort I was in. I could barely enjoy my newborn because my boobs were so sore.
Feelings of anger and resentment boiled up inside. I was annoyed with my husband for seemingly having things so easy. After all, he was in zero pain. There were days I lashed out at him and had meltdowns. I just wanted the pain to go away.
Luckily it was is temporary. However while it was present it definitely caused a rift.
The solution to this? Help mom feel as comfortable as possible. Whether it’s grabbing her Boppy or fixing her pillows, there's something you can do. Anything to help her get through the challenging time.
Still having pain after the first few weeks? Definitely see a doctor or lactation consultant.
2 Not Enough Pumping Help
Breastfeeding mothers who also pump know a lot of work is involved. As a work from home mother I have only had to pump a few times. Yet I know that it’s a time consuming process.
There’s the actual pumping itself. Then there’s the sterilizing of bottles and pump equipment. And the milk has to be properly stored and labeled by date.
All of this work could easily fall on the mother. Having to do this all by herself can quickly become annoying. She could easily become upset with her partner for not helping out. Arguments and blow ups can follow.
So partners have to remember a few important points. Yes the woman is the main person nursing. However both parties can definitely share breastfeeding responsibilities.
He can man the sterilizing and storing. Mom can manage the pumping and nursing. Whatever works. Find a way to divvy up the work to keep both parties happy. Pumping duties won’t last forever.
1 Baby Gets Bossy
Yes breastfeeding is a beautiful bond between mother and child. However this bond is so strong that sometimes a baby can become possessive.
Lately, when I hug my husband my son finds a way to physically pull us apart. He’ll squeeze in the middle of us or sometimes even start crying.
If you’re not careful you and your partner won’t be able to share in warm embraces. Jealousy over parental affection is a real thing.
So I’ve learned to put up some boundaries with my son. If he starts to act jealous I either ignore the behaviour or give him a gentle ‘no’. You can also give your child something else to do while mom and dad have their moment. Distraction can be a true gem. Also be sure to reward good behaviour. But if I’m being honest more often than not I just let him join in on the hugging!
Sources: Babycenter.com Parenting.com BellyBelly.com.au, Easybabylife.com, Romper.com, MayoClinic.org, Prevention.com, BreastfeedingUSA.org