Wednesday, June 27, 2007

What about Dad?'sDadInAllThis.htm

The off-base yet common thing mothers to be often refer to is "letting Dad get to feed the baby"...but rather than try to inject some random gender-equality into a relationship that just ain't about men right now, how about we help Dad to be ACTUALLY useful and in fact, an indispensable part of the breastfeeding continuum, rather than a plastic-bottle dispenser on the imagined principle that we are going to "go out" or "get some sleep" in those early weeks---call me crazy, but with engorged breasts leaking and aching for the baby, and baby screaming and wailing for Mama, going out or sleeping isnt really what evberybody needs.

Now, before I get jumped on, I think breast pumps can be wonderful lifesaving things. I think Moms need breaks, and I think this works out for some people with working outside the home, it is a must. But for Gods sake, in the early postpartum period, the first 8 weeks when you are just setting up your milk supply, there is SO much Dad can do besides feed some random bottle while you pretend you are relaxing/leaking all over the couch.

Bring Mom food! She needs food. Prepared, healthy, nourishing food. Lots of it. New mothers are STARVING.

Rub her shoulders.
Rub her whole back.
Rub her shoulders again.

Bring her water, drinks, of all kinds! Before she asks! Bring and bring and bring her drinks, and stock the fridge in the evening with sippy-straw types of stuff for her. Bring her drinks in the night.

Hang out with her, at home. Make your evenings a cozy safe time of companionship and cuddling, and yes,k eating and drinking and massaging.

Force her to take a bath or shower. With a newborn, even this can seem overwhelming! If you have to, especially if she has had Cesarean surgery, the pain and difficulty will make her just want to be a filthy beast instead, so you might have to get her the whole outfit, towel, everything---but she will be sooooo glad afterwards.

If you see her nursing in wierd positions, be there with the boppy pillow, the other pillows, blankies, drinks, sandwhiches, remote, phone, vitamins...just be there!

Laugh laugh and laugh--it can change the whole scene from one of dejected despondent misery to one of love and humor and the realization that newborn care is rediculously zen like and timeless and on a whole 'nother plain, and how marvelously unique and precious the mother-baby system really is. Laugh at the laundry mountain, laugh at the flooded bras and sheets and towels. Laugh at the diapers and the farting little buddha and the sleepy puffy mama. Notice things like glows and auras and vibes, they are very strong in your home right now. Giggle. Say things like holy shit you two are so beautiful i can scarcely look at you. And mean it.

Take pictures no matter how convinced you are that this is The Forever, it isnt and it drags and then it is over. Take pictures of the "bad times". Take pictures of the trashed house. Take pictures of everything around the little nursing fairy angel that is so ugly and chaotic and destroyed and look how beautiful the baby is doing and you will know just what It Is All About. The blurry destruction swirling around the BabyDear, and how amazingly gorgeous he or she is and what your world went through just to get to this point, on this day. Click.

Love the nursing Mom. So much.

Protect her from harshness, and this can mean protecting her from media, visitors, and the overwhelming and understandable urge to "have everything go back to normal" in the form of running around to stroes, having late night visitors, wearing cruel hard clothing, vigorusly persuing a lifestyle that will come back, but should not be carried out right now.


Sage Femme said...

this is such a great post. the common idea to "let dad feed the baby to help with bonding" really reflects our cultural belief that food = love.

I love your ideas! these are good - so good! I also like to suggest that dads take a bath with their babies or hold their little ones skin to skin after they've nursed.

Joy said...

Thank you, I am very heartwarmed to have you comment on here :)

In reading back, I feel like I accidentally downplayed the importance of fathers in the life of a baby, and I did NOT mean to do that. I just was feeling very angry at how much energy new moms were suppossed to direct towards this whole thing of Dad feeds the baby and I really thought and think that there is tons of other stuff your partner can do that is much more useful and loving and taking a bath with the baby is a precious idea!

~S said...

This is such a great post! (h/t to sage femme for pointing the way to it!)

I formula fed my first three children, for no other reason than I was uneducated and wanted my "freedom" (which doesn't make sense because I have probably been without my kids about a dozen times in my 10 years as a mom) and my fourth child is still breastfed 3 years after birth. My husband has stated that he has felt much more bonded to him than the other 3 (as am I, and I am not at all saying that we love the others less) and he believes that it has to do with the fact that I am breastfeeding. He fed our other children a bottle many many times. He says that he sees/saw our youngest more of an extention of me and he thinks that really helped him bond with him. My youngest has hever had a bottle for no other reason than we just didn't need it, so not at all suggesting that bottles are evil or anything ;-)

Adding you to my daily blog stalking list :-)


marybeth said...

i really, really like what you said here. i so agree. I am now pregnant for my third child...the first two never took a bottle, i never really pumped...tried but always gave-up because i was like, "why the hell go through this shit if i don't HAVE to." This time around though, as soon as about 10 weeks pass, I AM going to pump. I want my oldest daughter to feed baby because she is begging me to and i think she needs to have a role like that and i refused to be sleep deprived for the fourth year in a row. once in a while i want to smack my husband on the head and say, "feed baby" and he can go get some of my milk and feed baby and let me sleep in for another hour or so. i do agree the first 2-3 months should be about breast to mouth ONLY, but as i get more experienced, i know what is best and what is best is a rested mama. period.

love you blog.


Housefairy said...

Thanks everyone! I think Sage Femme has bumped my little blog's "traffic" up from 0 to 60 and I couldnt be gladder!

I worried that I offended people who pump, etc and I hope that my sentiments came across correctly. Sleep is extremely important, and even though I truly did not get any sleep of any substance for many many months of all my babies, I probably would have been a better mother to my older kids if I had.

Pleased that it didn't come out as a "pumped bottles are bad" post.

Shelly said...

LOVE this post. You said it so wonderfully.

Both my children were breastfed exclusively and their father never felt "left out" or that he couldn't bond with the girls. He still brings me water while I'm nursing, and food. And he loves to give the girls their baths...that is Daddy time for them and that is how they bond.

Housefairy said...

Awesome! I Love to think of the Mamas getting taken care of long into the nursing relationship.

Its truly like putting food into the Mama and milk come out into the baby! The circle is simple and so cool.

kris said...

this is a fabulous post! i luv all the input from everyone else too. i was thinking there are sooo many other things that dad can do to help if he is in desperate need, like uh, laundry, dishes, cooking.....

mama k said...

I love this post!
I wrote my own spin on this topic on my blog and linked to you:

Joy said...

Thanks, MamaK! LOVe your blog! Thank you for the linky

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