Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Breastfeeding – a dad’s perspective

Breastfeeding always brings me mixed emotions, on the one hand it’s a beautiful thing to watch Henry feeding away looking so cute and perfect, but on the other hand I’m thinking “hang on a second son, those boobs are normally my playground not yours”. That aside as a man you expect breastfeeding to be simple, it’s such a natural thing isn’t it? Mum takes out her boob, baby opens it’s mouth, it latches on and feeds. Simple.

Except it doesn’t always seem to work like that. This is my biggest frustration with the whole thing, it seems so inexact, so lacking in real rules or science. For example there is always a question about whether the milk is calorific or not, why not test it? It can’t be that difficult for some scientist to come up with a simple test for this right?

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The good news is that Henry has started putting weight on, topping up with formula once or twice a day seems to have helped. But we still don’t know really why this is needed and why just breastfeeding isn’t enough. We’ve been back and forth to the hospital to see the midwives and answered ‘the checklist’ each time, it goes something like this;

  • How’s the latch? Perfect, that boy sure knows his way around a boob and can suck with the best of them.
  • Have you got enough milk? Well it’s dripping onto the lady of the manors lap and a little squeeze is akin to a fire hydrant so yep I reckon we’re ok there.
  • Mum’s diet? Well not a lot of junk food but certainly not low fat, oh and we had fish and chips last night. Malnourished we are not.
  • Length of feed? That boy will happily chomp for at least an hour, more if you give him the chance.

It’s at this point that the midwife inevitably runs out of ideas and goes to ‘talk with her colleagues’. Well we finally had enough of this lack of any real answer or suggestion and today the lady of the manor went to a breastfeeding support group run locally.

DSC_0068There she met a lady who had some fancy official title but whom I shall just call the Chief Boob lady. This lady ran the checklist of course but she also inspected the ‘apparatus’ and observed feeding for more than 5 minutes. Then she did something different to the midwives, she looked for solutions and answers that didn’t end in ‘give him some formula’. She was positive and enthusiastic, she made the lady of the manor feel good that she’s made it to 3 weeks and is still feeding.

So now we have a few ideas, tomorrow we are going to see the chief mouth lady to see if Henry perhaps has a tongue tie and this is impacting the amount of the hind milk that he gets. We’re also going to see a Cranial Osteopath to see if Henry has suffered from what was quite a stressful birth and whether that could be impacting his feeding in some way.

It feels so different to actually have some good suggestions on things we can do. Feeding is going so well with no pain or discomfort at all for the lady of the manor, it’s stupid to give up on that just because it doesn’t seem to be quite filling him up at the moment.

If any of you have been through similar experiences I’d love to hear about them and what you did.

20 Comments

  1. Nice post! You make a good point about what ‘breastfeeding support’ really is (and isn’t). Good breastfeeding supporters listen to what’s going on, observe what they can see, and make suggestions based on this that the family in question can try, or not, as feels right for them. Good supporters also give accurate information and should be able to point you to further resources. So I am glad you’ve found chief boob lady, stick with her!

  2. Went thought a similar experience. But my baby wasn’t latching for days and lost too much weight at the hospital. After days of hand expressing colostrum & pimping in hope of getting m milk in sooner bubba had lost 13% an we were on a 2 hr expressed milk topped up by formula schedule. Luckily he regained enough & we were allowed to leave the next day. At that point I had resigned to probably having to exclusively express or just go to formula when just before we left the little one latched on!!! It’s been nearly 4 months now. And they haven’t been easy! Oh no! I’m sure baby has a tongue tie & ha a very stressful birth but we did nothing about it. Wish we’d gone to the osteopath! Still he is thriving. I however ended up with a split nipple which got infected & feeding off that side was incredibly painful.
    My husband found a La Leche League breastfeeding consultant & she helped us so much! Granted we had to pay but it sure was cheaper than formula + baby’s getting what’s best now. I’ve joined a local breastfeeding support group & hope to soon be trained as a peer supporter. I feel I have so much to give to other struggling mums! Choosing to stick with it even in the hardest most painful days was not easy but I knew I would we really cross with myself for not continuing. So did my husband who’s been incredibly supportive through it all and helped me keep going. I couldn’t have done it without him.
    So, have heart & keep going! And update us on the tongue tie & osteopath 🙂 btw I’d you don’t know any, get I touch.

    • I think a lot of people underestimate how hard it’s going to be, but their are specialists to help just wish they were promoted more at the hospital when there is still time to help people who do want to continue breast feeding. Oh and new blog post on the tongue tie coming soon!

  3. Anoop Singh-Best

    June 12, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Glad she’s managing to feed him so well. The Breastfeeding support groups are very helpful on the whole. Keep up the good work x

  4. it’s really great to hear from a dads perspective, i could breastfeed so i expressed for 10weeks, for me it was hell on earth so i am glad its working for your wife

    • I can imagine expressing being hard work and demoralising, plus it’s hardly the most attractive thing to do is it? Fingers crossed so far things are working out here.

  5. I think it’s strange that some men have a problem with breast feeding, you can’t control your thoughts when a baby is feeding from it’s mother? I love that my wife tried so hard to get our children to breastfeed, I think it’s a wonderful moment for them to bond. To think that I’d die for my kids it seems silly to deny them one of the most comforting moments they’ll ever experience.

  6. Hi there, our baby is now 7 months and we also struggled to get her to feed. She was struggling to keep sucking effectively and no amount of tickling her chin, ear or touching her top lip or any of the other many techniques worked in keeping her attention. She would also ‘feed’ for long periods and in the end, after a paediatrician called her ‘scrawny’ at 6 weeks (husband almost smacked her) we sought help from a lactation consultant. She was great and rapidly established that baby wan’t nursing efficiently despite a good latch. Solution, breast pump boob milk so we can monitor actual milk intake and supplement with formula, then gradually wean baby off the formula and back onto breast. So baby didn’t get ‘nipple confusion’ we made sure she still tried breast feeding every few days (so she couldn’t get away with using the scream for a bottle as an easy option) but we just didn’t count that as a proper feed on a feeding chart. I kept up the feeding chart (I’m a virgo) and as it happens, now we’re weaning, it comes in brilliantly handy for monitoring fluid intake as well as foods tried just in case there’s some adverse reaction. Good luck to all of you.

  7. I was terrified when Z was first born, I had lots of worries and trouble bfeeding him but I was so determined and tried every single piece of advice given but it still wasn’t enough. One day I gave him a couple of oz of formula and like magic he was ok. No-one could explain to me why and every midwife, in the same as you, went through the checklist and then said “yes give him formula”. But why? I never did ever find out but I did find out that cake and fenugreek are excellent foods for boobie milk and production (I’ve no idea why… And not together!)

  8. Nice to hear that your so supportive of your wife. I breastfed my son for two years with ease no problems at all. My daughter didnt take to it so well she screamed a lot was never full amd my milk didnt come in quickly enough as id fed my son throughout my pregnancy. I had no support and was somewhat pressured by my OH and health visitors to move onto formula I think as that was the quick fix. I have no end of guilt about not breastfeeding her when I did for so long with my son it really upsets me.

    • You should never feel guilty about that, there is no right and wrong here. Sometimes breastfeeding doesnt work for whatever reason and it’s better for both of you to formula feed.

  9. Hurrah for the Dad’s perspective! I’ve often thought it must be a tad weird to see our lovely lumps being used for a new purpose 😀 Seriously though, breastfeeding does not always come naturally. DD had a lot of difficulty when she started feeding and as we were in China at the time we actually paid a retired UK health visitor who was also an expat to come and watch her feeding. Turns out she wasn’t latching as well as she could have been, wasn’t positioned as well as she could have been and although she seemed to be sucking she wasn’t really going for it. Took a while for everything to come together but I couldn’t have managed it without this invaluable support. Best of luck to you all x

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