When Your Partner Doesn’t Support Your Breastfeeding Goals

You are passionate about giving your baby breast milk… but you’re partner? Ah, not so much. We know how important partner support is for breastfeeding and pumping moms, so what do you do when that support isn’t there? Do you stand on your soapbox and preach about all the benefits of breast milk? Or do you just let it go and “hopefully” find support elsewhere?

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Episode Transcript

The Boob Group
When Your Partner Doesn’t Support Your Breastfeeding Goals


Please be advised, this transcription was performed from a company independent of New Mommy Media, LLC. As such, translation was required which may alter the accuracy of the transcription.

COURTNEY STRATON: You are passionate about giving your baby breast milk, but your partner? Not so much. We know how important partner breastfeeding support is for pumping and breastfeeding moms. What do you do when support is not there? Do you stand on your soapbox and preach all the benefits of breast milk or do you just want to go and hopefully find support elsewhere?

We are The Boob Group

[Theme music]

COURTNEY STRATON: Welcome to The Boob Group, we are here to support our moms wanting to provide breast milk to their babies. I am Courtney Straton and I am co-hosting the show today with a few other mammas which you will meet in just a second.

If you haven't yet, we encourage you to download the New Mommy Media network app. That will give you easy access to all of our episodes. You can also subscribe to our podcast through iTunes so all the latest episodes download directly to your mobile device. If you are on iTunes, please leave us a review. Other moms can learn about us that way and it will really help us out and you will be able to see a little bit more of our information quickly.

All right, let us meet some of the moms joining our conversation today. I am going to let each to tell us a little bit about yourselves and your family and where you are from. Priya why don't we start with you?

PRIYA NEMBHARD: Sure, my name is Priya and I hail from New York and I am also the co-founder of MomsPumpHere, the app that helps moms find places to breastfeed and breast pump around the world. I am a mom of three, I'm married and my children are older. My eldest is fourteen, my middle is twelve and my youngest is eight years old. I breastfed them all, breast pumped for them all but each had a different situation. My youngest I actually breastfed him for three years and I finally stopped because my sister told me to. I do have unique situations with all three of them. I am happy to be here too.

COURTNEY STRATON: Great. Thank you, and how about Sunny?

SUNNY GAULT: Alright, I am Sunny and I have four kids, I breastfed all of them not as long as I would have liked for my first two. My oldest is five then I have a three-year-old, both of those are boys and on average about six months with each of them and then I had my twins, my girls and they are my 'success story' in my mind at least because I had very little trouble feeding them at all.

You think I would have more trouble with twins but it was the exact opposite for me. We are going on two and a half years and I may have to make trips to high school at some point to breastfeeding them because I don't really see them letting up and just like Priya, these are my babies, these are my last kids and I am not having any more babies and I have a really hard time letting go of that. I don't think we are at a point yet where I have to but I am starting to get the weird look from my mom and other people that are not so supportive and I just let it roll off, that is me.

COURTNEY STRATON: Thanks, Sunny. Katie this is your first time joining us go ahead and tell us about yourself.

KATIE: I am a mom of two, I live in Kansas City Missouri, I am married and I run my own Allergy Friendly Bakery, www.brodysbakery.com. I have a nine-year-old son who has altruism and I have an eighteen-month-old daughter that I am currently still nursing.

COURTNEY STRATON: All right, thank you so much. My name is Courtney Straton. I am a Breastfeeding specialist in as far as photography goes. So, I am a breastfeeding photographer. I am also in Kansas City Missouri so I am nearly neighbours with Katie just on the other side of Kansas City.

I am married, we have been together for fifteen years now which seems crazy and makes me sound really old. My oldest Eli is five and I nursed him until he was nine months old. I was working full time so when I went back to work I pumped a lot for about six months and we also supplemented with formula after he turned six months old.

With my youngest Everet, I made a career change and worked at home full time so he is with me all the time and he is going to be two this week which blows my mind. We are still nursing and I am starting to get those 'I don't know how long we are going to do feelings' but I have had that happen a few times and we are still going.

Like Sunny said, going on to High school but at least the school is close to me. That is all of us for today.

[Theme music]

SUNNY GAULT: All right, before we start our conversation today we are going to talk about a headline that I found. This is a complete visual headline so I will post it to our Facebook page so you guys can check out this image. You really should check it out, it’s pretty awesome and it is about a pumping mom and this goes along with just how our breast milk is so catered to our babies. The headline is Mom Pose her Breast milk side by side pic, it goes viral for the most beautiful reason. That is a really long headline by the way.

Anyway, this has been viewed 234,000 times, it has been shared on Facebook and has 15,000 thumbs ups and it is just going all over the place. A mom took a side by side photo of her breast milk and one was about two or three days apart, one bag was pumped in one day and then two or three days later she pumped the second bag. You have to see the visual on this because the breast milk is a completely different colour and the reason that it changed is her child was fighting a cold and so her body knew and the properties in the breast milk changed to help support her child who was fighting a cold.

Her body knew that her child needed additional antibodies so it naturally produced this because of the bond between mom and baby just because our bodies are freaking amazing and totally changed the contents of what was in the breast milk and added a bunch of stuff that the baby was going to need to get over that cold.

We hear this but until you visually see the change in the colour of the breast milk, it is absolutely amazing. The Moms name is Mallari and she posted some stuff on Facebook and she started out the post with “so yeah this is just cu cu awesome” and I agree with Mallari, this is just cu cu awesome and so I want to check in with our moms and see if they think it is cu cu awesome too, so Priya, what do you think about this?

PRIYA NEMBHARD: Yes, I think it is super awesome, I think our bodies are these magical factories. On MomsPumpHere, we did actually do a blog about what happened with this mom and we had a phenomenal response from our moms in our community and we always get these questions about should I breastfeed my child while I am sick or while my baby is sick and we always defer back to please check with your doctor or lactation consultant and yes, our bodies are these magical factories that create all these antibodies and all these things that our babies need in the breast milk in order to stay healthy.

I think that this is universal for every mammal. If you think about mammals in the wild that are exposed to all these germs and this conditions, their moms have to produce breast milk in order for the babies to be healthy and it is the same concept for us too. We have to make sure that our babies are healthy so nature does it for us, I think it is pretty spectacular.

SUNNY GAULT: It is awesome, I love this. Not too long ago may be a few months ago, I was breastfeeding one of my twin girls and she had this horrible running nose and cold going on and my mom was there and she was like “I don't really think you should be giving her milk when she has a cold” and I went mom, do you realize this is not just cow milk, I am not just giving her milk. I had to do a little education on this is the best thing I could be doing for her right now, it was just interesting because people don't just realize how catered our bodies are for our babies.

KATIE: A couple of weeks ago I was chasing my nine years old around with breast milk in a syringe because he had pink eye

COURTNEY STRATON: It is the windex from my big fat Greek wedding

SUNNY GAULT: It is the windex, but don't spray windex on your kid’s eyes. All right, I will post the link to our Facebook page, guys check out this photo and share it because it is awesome.

[Theme music]

COURTNEY STRATON: Today we are going to talk about supporting breastfeeding moms and it is more so going to be what about your partner? Are they supportive? What do you do when your partner is not supporting your breastfeeding or your pumping goals?

I think for everyone it is different depending on whether or not your partner has been supportive, or if you have a partner at all around to be supportive. Let's talk about did you know when you started breastfeeding or when you were pregnant that when you started breastfeeding or pumping that your partner wasn't going to be supportive and were you surprised? How do you handle it? Katie, you said that you didn’t have a very good breastfeeding relationship with Brody, you want to start on that?

KATIE: I have been on both sides of the coin because I had my son with my previous husband, so he had a different dad. My ex-husband he wasn’t you know it is not like he had anything against breastfeeding or had anything negative to say about it, he wasn't just very supportive and my son was kind of small when he was born, he was four pounds fourteen ounces when he left the hospital so they were concerned that he wasn't gaining weight fast enough and they were pushing the formula and my ex-husband was like yes we should probably just do the formula. He just didn't really give me the encouragement to continue trying with breastfeeding which you need especially in those early days.

COURTNEY STRATON: Priya what about you?

PRIYA NEMBHARD: When my first child was born Jayden, he had a special condition called hydronephrosis of the kidneys and he had eventually to have surgery when he was eight months. When my husband and I had him we were both very young, I am not that old, it was fourteen years ago so it was more about maturity I think and knowing what it was all about.

When you are in the hospital, I think now they are trying to outlaw it now, you received a bag full of formula. The hospital gives it to you and you think it is okay and there is nothing wrong with having formula because sometimes moms just can't breastfeed and that is what they have to do, but because Jayden was going through this unique situation, we had to make sure that he had as much breast milk as possible and we have to stay on top of this. So, I pumped and breastfed up until after the surgery just to make sure he had those antibodies and the doctors even stressed that as well.

My husband was really like do we need it? There is a formula and the formula does the same thing so there was a little bit of fighting and bickering in the beginning because of that. It was more about being mature and education of it and understanding that the breast milk is important. It wasn't until we had our last that he was really supportive. Obviously, I breastfed for last for three years

SUNNY GAULT: You know you can take all the classes and stuff and I am not saying the classes are bad, I am glad I did take a class so I had a little bit of a heads up but I didn't know even how passionate I was about breastfeeding until I started breastfeeding.

My husband, I don't know if I would classify him as being unsupportive but I would classify him as not going out of his way to being supportive. I think there is a little bit of a distinction there and I think now that we have had four kids that we have breastfed, his willingness to just relax a little about the whole breastfeeding thing is definitely changed over the course of the last five or six years. My oldest is about to turn six, but he has started to loosen up and for my husband the big deal is about finances. That is the way I responded to him, I am like think about how much money we are saving, and then he started to harp on the bandwagon a little bit.

COURTNEY STRATON: That brings me to my next thought, so you are saying he wasn't really going out of his way to being supportive and necessarily wasn't vocal about being unsupportive, so have your partners made you feel like your goals aren't supported or are they passive about it or are they more direct?

For me, early on with my oldest Eli, I was not sure I was going to breastfeed until I was in the hospital. Erick my husband he was just like okay, he didn’t really care one way or another when I was starting to supplement with a formula he was just like okay. He may have said it a couple of times that why don't we just do formula because it would be a pain and as a new mom I was really struggling with doing this in public and when you do, that was almost six years ago, and thankfully there has been more light shed on breastfeeding in public and nursing in public because I really didn’t see any other moms nursing in public then. To him I think it was more of your boobs are out on the table at the restaurant, and now he has been really great with Everet, He had said too much until recently he started to say well when are you going to be done, how long are going to do this.

He has never said you need to stop, it is time to stop but every now and then I will get a wayward glance. Erick is now like okay are we going to be done because I can go on business trips to Monicorn and he had cow’s milk and water and was totally fine. Erick is a little bit more passive about it but has anyone had anyone be more direct, like have your partners or Sunny you said your mom been so direct about it is time to stop or why are you still breastfeeding or why are breastfeeding?

PRIYA NEMBHARD: Well I did with my last. As I mentioned before he was three years and my sister was like this is the weekend we are going to do it now. I don't know if that was peer pressure her being like what is going on or what is wrong with you? I really didn't have a conversation about why are you acting like that but she was very direct. She was like we are figuring this weekend and I was living in Miami at that time so she had come down to visit, so she was being direct but it wasn't in any was unsupportive, it was more like Liam is talking now, he is walking around and doing other things, he can drink cow milk now, he can eat food he will be okay.

COURTNEY STRATON: What about Sunny?

SUNNY GAULT: My mom doesn’t live very close to us but they visit few times a year and they stay for extended periods of time which is great, I love it. But I definitely get the looks from her. In fact she is coming this next week and is staying for three weeks and my husband is already gearing me up, he is like your mom is going to be all about you whipping it out for the babies and I am like well, she is in my house and this is what we do in my house. I will say though that even if your partner or your loved ones aren't being direct about it, sometimes the passiveness can almost be as bad.

One thing that I remember very clearly when I was pregnant with the twins, I don't know if you guys went through this, you get all the formulas send to your house, so not only are you getting it at the hospital but they send it straight to your house. I often wonder how you get on these lists.

Anyway, I was so frustrated when I got a bunch of formula sent to the house and I knew it was going to happen because it happened with my other kids but I was just so intent on breastfeeding my twins. I felt that this was just a huge slap in the face from these companies.

One thing that really upset me is I immediately wanted to donate it to somebody else that was going to use it because I didn’t even want it in the house. I didn’t want a fall-back position and I wanted pressure on myself. That is how I work best and I didn’t want to be able to fall back on the formula. I didn’t want it to be even in the house. The passive aggressive stance my husband took was well let us put it on the top shelf, you won't be able to see it but let us not get rid of it.

For me I thought that was a huge slap in my face, I felt like he didn’t have confidence in me, and that almost hurt more than him saying I don't think you are going to be successful at this. I felt that it was more conniving, you know what I mean?

PRIYA NEMBHARD: Yes, passive aggressive is tough because you don't exactly know what they are thinking if you are over thinking it?

COURTNEY STRATON: Did that cause any issue outside of just your breastfeeding relationship Sunny? Because to me when you are especially I the new stages, for me even months after having the baby we have gone through so many of the hormone changes especially while you are breastfeeding. I am hormonal grumpy, did that get in into your head, did you get mad at him about it?

SUNNY GAULT: I am sure it caused issues in enough of areas. I don't know if there is anything I can pinpoint, it just made me more moody next time he made me mad or something like that, but I have done a pretty good job on being like listen if you are not going to be supportive that is okay but I am still going to do my thing. That is really the attitude that I had with all of my children.

Really the whole feeding thing has been up to me pretty much until my kids are about a year old. Like my husband never woke up in the middle of the night to help me breastfeed or with the twins I was pumping every three hours even throughout the night and he never really helped with any of that.

I guess in the very beginning with our first I was like why is he not getting up in the middle of the night helping me and then after a while I was just like I am going to do this if it is important enough to me I am going to make this happen. I don't want to paint my husband in a bad light, he is an amazing person and he does a lot of amazing things for our family, he is a great dad. However in this particular area, I think he honestly just feels like a fish out of the water.

He is like hands off, my wife is doing the breast milk thing, what I'm I going to do to help with that? He feels a little uncomfortable around babies in general so it is just one of those things that I have learned to compartmentalize it.

COURTNEY STRATON: I just decided that I was going to go it alone myself and that wasn't to say that Erick wasn't willing to help but for me that meant that I was going to pump strictly to give a bottle to Erick then make him wake up and go feed the baby. Most of the time we were co-sleeping anyway so I just rolled over and slept through it.

Katie was there anything that you were able to say or do to change your now former husband's views on breastfeeding or was it better for you to just say okay I agree and move on?

KATIE: I was twenty years old and everything didn’t go the way I had planned. I think I was just like okay we will just do formula. I don't think I had the fight in me at that time to even pursue it any further.

COURTNEY STRATON: All right, when we come back we will continue our talk about breastfeeding support and we will talk about some of the side effects that come with not having a supportive partner.

We will be right back

[Theme music]

COURTNEY STRATON: Welcome back. Today we are talking about moms who may be lacking partner support. We are going to continue our discussion about having partners that aren't necessarily being over the top supportive or may even be directly unsupportive of the nursing relationship and breastfeeding goals.

Something that I had read and I wanted to find a link but I couldn't come up with it is that stress can cause milk supply to drop. I am sure someone else has heard that before too. Do you ever feel like there are enough conflicts or there were enough conflicts whether it be directly or a passive conflict regarding your breastfeeding that could cause a change in you supply and if so how do you go about overcoming that? Priya you want to start with that?

PRIYA NEMBHARD: Sure, I had a lot of stress with my second child, my daughter Eva. Tones of things were going on so I was planning my wedding while I was pregnant with her. While she was in the utero I found out that she had the same condition my some had hydronephrosis, and the doctors were also talking about her possibly having down syndrome because I had a lot of water, there was a heart thing going on and I was super stressed out even before she got here.

My family did not make it easier on me too because I was fighting with everybody. It was just a stressful situation, so when she came out she was born in April and I was getting married in June so I went onto this crush diet right after she came out and there was all the stress about what is going to happen at the wedding, dealing with family members and thankfully she was okay, she was perfect when she came out. I stuck to my guns and I had faith that she was going to be fine, and she was thankful.

I only breastfed her for two weeks because of the stress. My milk supply was not high at all then I had another eighteen-month-old running around, I had my son and I am planning the wedding so there was a lot of external environmental factors going on at the same time in addition to my body having to deal with the stress.

I was able to breast pump after the two weeks but the stress just caused the milk to drop because that was just crazy for me.

COURTNEY STRATON: Yes I can definitely see why that would be difficult. Sunny your daughters are older, so they are not necessarily nursing for food per see, it’s more of a comfort. So, you might not be noticing a change in your supply but do you think you can relate to that to that statement that stress particularly stress about breastfeeding could cause your supply to drop?

SUNNY GAULT: Yes, absolutely. I experienced this more with my sons, my first two children. This is because there was a lot going on with my husband and I in our relationship and we really weren’t getting along for a while, and now that I think about it, I don't think it would have attributed stress to the situation at that point but I blamed it on low milk supply and you know if I am able to breastfeed twins with no problem, I probably didn’t struggle with low milk supply with my boys.

It was probably a combination of a lot of things, you know just the whole supply and demand thing and stress I am sure was a big part of that. Honestly, if I am being completely honest I wasn't sure even if I was going to be married much longer and it was just a very difficult stressful situation with that. So yes, not as much with my girls because thankfully we were able to overcome all of that and come out on the end but definitely with my boy's stress was a big factor.

COURTNEY STRATON: For me I did not necessarily have too much stress regarding breastfeeding when I think I went in with Everet two weeks check or one week check around there he had lost a significant amount of weight and thankfully my paediatrician was very supportive in saying keep breastfeeding, here are some things you can do to help with your supply but I was really nervous that I was having some problems with my supply.

That made me a little frantic and it was the only time as far as with Everet I thought maybe I should be doing formula now but I was pretty solid on that. That was one time earlier on that my husband said “maybe you should giving him formula, are you sure you are not supposed to be doing formula, let's do the formula.”

That was the pretty stressful for me and it is definitely something that you need to maybe have a conversation with your partner ahead of time. We didn’t really have a big conversation about me breastfeeding or breastfeeding goals before I had either of the boys. I think that is something that you should talk about beforehand as far as my point of view goes.

Well, thank you so much to everyone for being part of today’s show and for sharing their experience.

If you are a member of The Boob Group then be sure to check the bonus content for this episode where we will discuss ways you can educate your partner about the importance of breastfeeding and pumping.

[Theme music]

SUNNY GAULT: All right, so before we wrap up our show today I love getting emails from our listeners. I love hearing what you guys have to say about the show and if you guys have ideas about we should be talking about or things that have helped you with the show. Honestly, that is what keeps me doing the show week after week, I just love it.

I want to share a comment from Tracy, she actually left this on our Facebook page. This is what she says;

“Hello Boob Group, I wanted to take a moment as I am pumping at work to thank you for your all the round awesomeness. I have been listening to your podcast every day for weeks and you have helped me stay sane when I had thrush and cracked nipples, kept me focus on why I am pumping through the pain and have been my friend when I had low milk supply”.

“My baby is four months old and I am back at work. Thanks to you I intend on pumping and feeding her up to one year old and I was so close to giving up at one point but while I have a pumping room at work, my boss has been less than supportive. He makes me paranoid of the time I spend away from my desk. I pump three times a day and as I was finishing my last pump of the day I just wanted to say a very hearty thank you. I am getting sixty-eight ounces per pump now and feel secure that I might have enough to feed my baby. You guys rock, keep up the excellent work'. Tracy”

Now if that is not a pat on the back then I don't know what is. I love that and I love that she talked about support in this. Support can obviously come from all different areas and even though you have a pumping room at work, it doesn’t mean that your boss is going to be very supportive of the fact that you are taking time away from whatever.

Thank you, Tracy, for sending this and if you guys have a comment for us or just want to share how the show has been helped you I will definitely share those on the show. I love to get them so you can email us through our website on www.NewMommyMedia.com, you can click on the contact link, you can just like Tracy post it to our Facebook page send us a message that way and we will get it on the show.

COURTNEY STRATON: Awesome, good job Sunny, all right, so that wraps up our show for today. We appreciate you listening to The Boob Group.
Don’t forget to check out our sister show:
• Preggie Pals for expecting parents
• Newbies for newly postpartum moms
• Parent Savers for moms and dads with infants and toddlers and
• Twin Talks for parents with multiples.

Thanks for listening to The Boob Group. Your judgment free breastfeeding resource.

This has been a New Mommy Media production. The information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only. Statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of New Mommy Media and should not be considered facts. While such information and materials are believed to be accurate, it is not intended to replace or substitute for professional, medical advice or care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating health care problem or disease or prescribing any medications. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified health care provider.

SUNNY GAULT: New Mommy Media is expanding our line-up of shows for new and expecting parents. If you have an idea for a new series, or if you’re a business, or organization interested in joining our network of shows through a co-branded podcast, visit www.NewMommyMedia.com.

[End of Audio]

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