men desiring to feed--normalacy?

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Registered: 03-26-2003
men desiring to feed--normalacy?
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Mon, 04-28-2003 - 9:20pm
What is your opinion on men desiring to feed their child? Normal or not?

I'll tell you what I think.

I think it is not normal for a man to have any desire to feed his child, because physically it is not something he would have ever done in the past.

I *do* think it is a misplaced feeling of a need or desire to help his SO/DW/GF and perhaps to bond with his baby, that he can't properly identify. I see it along the same lines as the whole breast as a sexual organ thing, that people think it is as such, and have a hard time getting past that to see it as a nourrishing organ.

When a man comes to our monthly meetings and shows an interest in feeding, I bring it up by saying something along the lines of "it's really nice to see a dad who is so keen on helping his SO and getting close to his baby, but there are LOTS of other ways to do both!"

I figure a man who wants to really help his wife out can: do a load of laundry, bring his wife breakfast in bed, run some errands, play with the older kids (where applicable), etc.

In the same vein, a man who wishes to "bond" with his child, which is a perfectly normal wish IMHO, can do so by: taking over bathtimes with his baby (ie the dad and only the dad is responsable for baths which can be a great time to bond!), rocking the baby, singing to the baby with him/her lying on his chest (bare or not), taking the baby for a walk in a sling, playing with the baby, and taking his fair share of changing diapers (and i must say...I've heard people suggest this first off the bat before and I *do* think it is entirely unfair to suggest to a new dad that he could be responsable for ALL diaper changes since mom is responsible for ALL feeds, as I feel lots of dads will be feeling they are getting the short end of the stick...but bathing? that's fun IMHO!).

Sure, often newborns spend more time feeding than much of these other things (except the pooping, LOL) to begin with, but as time goes on, dad will get to spend more time with his child.

I think also, that a lot of people have a hard time seeing, or perhaps admitting, that a newborn is by nature, more often "bonded" to his or her mom, and wants to be in her arms more to begin with, just because s/he was attached to that same mom, hearing her heart and voice, for 9 long months. Other people develop bonds with kids, and these bonds can be just as strong as the mom/child bond, but IMHO there is nothing wrong with them developping more gradually, slightly later. I don't think my DH is any less bonded to my older 3 year old than I am, but their bond is *different*, like it or not (and I think that's totally normal). I do think I am a bit more bonded for now to our 6 month old, but she's still really into *mom*, especially when hungry.

Anyhow...those are my thoughts on that subject, I'd like to hear others! ;-)

Fio.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Mon, 04-28-2003 - 10:05pm
I think it's great when men desire to feed their babies. It allows them to utilize and develop typically "female" nurturing qualities that make them more well-rounded as a person and a father.

<<<" think it is not normal for a man to have any desire to feed his child, because physically it is not something he would have ever done in the past. ">>>

I don't agree that what was possible in the past has anything to do with the normalcy of wanting to do it now that it's possible. I have the desire to do LOTS of things that aren't physically possible - like flying, getting enough exercise to lose weight in only 5 minutes a week, and having bigger boobs without surgery.

<<<"I *do* think it is a misplaced feeling of a need or desire to help his SO/DW/GF and perhaps to bond with his baby">>>

Oh, I think it's placed just fine - LOL! ;-) I'll take any help I can get from DH - especially when she was a newborn and eating every 3 hours around the clock. Those precious few nights where I actually got 5 or 6 consecutive hours of sleep were precious help to me, and enabled me to be a better mother since I wasn't stumbling around in a haze.

<<<"...but bathing? that's fun IMHO!). ">>>

Ah, but you haven't bathed my baby! LOL. It is actually getting better now that she's sitting, but I had to LOL because our bathtimes were a nightmare!!!

Also, my 6 month old is not much of a cuddler anymore... so if you want to cuddle with her, feeding time is the only time you get to do it. Otherwise, she's wriggling and squirming and lunging all over the place. If DH doesn't feed her, he doesn't get cuddles.

I see your point, I just totally disagree. It doesn't matter to me if it was previously impossible - it's possible now, and a great way for dad to help out mom and bond with the baby. I wouldn't deprive him of the opportunity to bond with her in the way he chooses. Typically, he is the fun, let's play and laugh parent, and I'm the feed, cuddle, and nurture parent. I play with her too, of course, but she *expects* him to play, and really looks to me for her other needs at this point. I think this is more due to the fact that I SAH and he works long hours, so I'm the one who meets most of her needs at this point.

-Deb


 

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 04-28-2003 - 10:20pm
My opinion....

I feel that Mothers were made to feed their infants...there are many other things a man can to do bond with his baby. I think it's ridiculous to say that a reason for FF'ing is so that the Dad can "bond".

I always think of breastfeeding sort of like an extension of pregnancy....my baby still needs me...physically and emotionally and only I can provide the most perfect food for him. I love that! :)

Anyway....so I agree with you, Fio. There are many other ways for a man to bond with his baby....feeding just wasn't meant to be one of them, IMO.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Mon, 04-28-2003 - 10:28pm
Well, even though I think breast is best, I do think it's also normal for a father to want to take part in feeding his child. There is something about meeting your baby's essential physical needs that is very special. Laundry and even baths don't really compare.

But I think that need can be met by pumping. My Mom, Aunt, and DH feed Henry frequently using EBM. It's no big deal, and they can still participate. Not to mention it gives me a break.

If someone is using that as a reason to FF, I think they are grasping at straws. But I have no problem with a father who wants to be involved with feeding. No, I do not think it's "unnatural." If that arguement were true, then women shouldn't buy meat at the grocery store because it was a man's job to hunt and bring home the game - LOL.

- Ingrid


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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 04-28-2003 - 11:01pm
Thanks for your thoughts. :-)

"I think it's great when men desire to feed their babies. It allows them to utilize and develop typically "female" nurturing qualities that make them more well-rounded as a person and a father. "

Do you REALLY think it does help them develop "female" nurturing qualities? I'm not so sure that it does...I figure that such qualities are mainly hormonal, and if you aren't producing the hormones b/c you're not lactating, then no matter how you're nurturing your child, it's just not gonna be "the same" KWIM? I could entirely see if a man actually put a child to his nipple and let him/her suckle, it might actually release some hormones that would help him nurture in a more "female" way, but to use a bottle and do so, I don't think the appropriate connections in the brain and biochemical pathways could ever happen, since a) it's not physically normal for a man to feed, to begin with, and b) it's not a direct stimulus on the part of the anatomy that possibly could have that effect. JMHO...no scientific basis to this really (though I should look it up and see if there are any studies that have been done, LOL).

"<<<" think it is not normal for a man to have any desire to feed his child, ">>>

I don't agree that what was possible in the past has anything to do with the normalcy of wanting to do it now that it's possible. I have the desire to do LOTS of things that aren't physically possible - like flying, getting enough exercise to lose weight in only 5 minutes a week, and having bigger boobs without surgery. "

Good point...but you realize these expectations aren't realistic, right? Maybe that makes it different?

"<<<"I *do* think it is a misplaced feeling of a need or desire to help his SO/DW/GF ">>>

Oh, I think it's placed just fine - LOL! ;-) I'll take any help I can get from DH - especially when she was a newborn and eating every 3 hours around the clock. Those precious few nights where I actually got 5 or 6 consecutive hours of sleep were precious help to me, and enabled me to be a better mother since I wasn't stumbling around in a haze. "

YK, I can totally see how, as a bottlefeeding mom, that would be true for you. But to a bfing mom who is doing fine, sometimes this can have much more detrimental effect than anything else. Should we cater to these "supposed desires" of men (who in reality, might be just eager to help out and *be* with their child in any way possible...) if it means hurting, or even totally sabotageing a breastfeeding dyad's success?

"<<<"...but bathing? that's fun IMHO!). ">>>

Ah, but you haven't bathed my baby! LOL. It is actually getting better now that she's sitting, but I had to LOL because our bathtimes were a nightmare!!! "

Really? Interesting...though some people say the same of feeding times of course, LOL. ;-)

"Also, my 6 month old is not much of a cuddler anymore... so if you want to cuddle with her, feeding time is the only time you get to do it. Otherwise, she's wriggling and squirming and lunging all over the place. If DH doesn't feed her, he doesn't get cuddles."

I think a lot of infants get to this point: the world is just too interesting and they're too curious. But we do get cuddles sometimes. I do agree that feeding time ends up being a big one, of course.

"I see your point, I just totally disagree. It doesn't matter to me if it was previously impossible - it's possible now, and a great way for dad to help out mom and bond with the baby. I wouldn't deprive him of the opportunity to bond with her in the way he chooses."

Yeah, but do you think it's *normal* for him to feel that way, or do you think it's a feeling that is brought on by the trend in today's society , and do you think it's more a need to *help/bond* than to actually do the act of feeding per se?

" Typically, he is the fun, let's play and laugh parent, and I'm the feed, cuddle, and nurture parent. I play with her too, of course, but she *expects* him to play, and really looks to me for her other needs at this point."

Ditto here. I'm also the *serious* parent. Yeah, we play sometimes, but I'm much less likely to play tricks on her, LOL. ;-)

" I think this is more due to the fact that I SAH and he works long hours, so I'm the one who meets most of her needs at this point. "

Right now we're both SAH since DH was laid off in march. :-( At least he gets to use Canada's parental leave programme until he finds work (or returns to school, whichever comes first; his goal is to go back to school in august, and parental leave would run out otherwise in about october or november I guess).

Fio.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 04-28-2003 - 11:06pm
Thanks!

"I feel that Mothers were made to feed their infants...there are many other things a man can to do bond with his baby. I think it's ridiculous to say that a reason for FF'ing is so that the Dad can "bond". "

YK, I have no problem with dad feeding if both parents want it that way, especially if there is a situation which calls for it (ie mom is at school part time, or the breadwinner, or something...), but I really dislike it when dads come along thinking it is their "god given right" to feed their child. Umm, no, in my opinon, it's the mom's right to feed her child first and foremost, just like it's her right to carry the baby (and colour me egotistical, but even if men COULD get pregnant or carry the baby, I wouldn't want to give that up for all the money in the world, complain as I might in the last few weeks of pgcy).

"I always think of breastfeeding sort of like an extension of pregnancy....my baby still needs me...physically and emotionally and only I can provide the most perfect food for him. I love that! :) "

I agree with this one. For me, pregnancy was, in some ways, 17.5 months long. That is the length of time for which I was responsible for all of my first child's total physical growth (9 mos inside, and 8.5 mos before starting solids on the outside). I must say, it certainly makes me proud to see a child growing because of MY body. ;-)

Fio.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 04-28-2003 - 11:15pm
Cute comparaison on the meat/grocery store thing, LOL. ;-)

"Well, even though I think breast is best, I do think it's also normal for a father to want to take part in feeding his child."

In FEEDING, or in RAISING (and assuming that by today's standards, raising is synonymous with feeding)?

" There is something about meeting your baby's essential physical needs that is very special."

I agree. But I guess in some ways, although this will sound a bit sexist, I see putting a roof over the child's head, and feeding his/her mommy is meeting the baby's essential needs too...

"But I think that need can be met by pumping. My Mom, Aunt, and DH feed Henry frequently using EBM. It's no big deal, and they can still participate. Not to mention it gives me a break. "

I always find it mind boggling to imagine pumping so that someone else can feed, as a "break". For me, it would not be. I do have a fair freezer stash, but that is only pumped from when I am engorged. I dislike pumping (given a choice, I,d rather plug in a child than a pump, LOL), and I always figure, no matter what, even if you displace the pumping time, you still end up either hooked up to a pump for a while, or hooked up to a baby. Oftentimes (at least for me) the pumping session will take LONGER than the baby nursing. So I can't really imagine it as a break.

I also would not imagine it as a "break" to end up with a child who had nipple confusion b/c of the bottles of EBM. Obviously this doesn't seem to be a problem for you, but there are SOOOOOO many people out there who have varying degrees of nipple confusion that it is just not something *I* would like to risk really. Therefore, for us, DH feeding is reserved for when I am out and can't come home soon enough (this has happened maybe 10 times since DD2's birth, and only twice between DD1's birth and when she started solids). We use a soft-spout (silicone) sippy cup instead of a bottle too, to avoid the nipple confusion possibility as much as possible.

"If someone is using that as a reason to FF, I think they are grasping at straws."

I agree...

" If that arguement were true, then women shouldn't buy meat at the grocery store because it was a man's job to hunt and bring home the game - LOL. "

True...but men (who also go grocery shopping too) shouldn't be buying clothes, or fruit (weren't the women more the fruit gatherers?). ;-) LOL.

Fio.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Tue, 04-29-2003 - 6:19am
As Simon Cowell would say "So what?" You saying its harmful for a dad to bottle feed his child if they have made the decision to formula feed? You saying that a mom doesn't deserve to sleep through the night every once in a while? You saying that we shouldn't evolve and move forward as a society? It never used to be "normal" for a woman to be a Doctor. It never used to be "normal" for a woman to be a pilot. It never used to be "normal" for a woman to be a member of parliament. So now that we have a viable alternative to breastmilk available or a means to pump real breastmilk, why shouldn't men take on a role that is not so "normal"? We have fought for women to take on roles that were not quite "normal" according to society, why is this any different?
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Tue, 04-29-2003 - 6:33am
"I must say, it certainly makes me proud to see a child growing because of MY body. ;-)"

ITA!!! There is no greater confidence booster! What a miracle it is!

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Tue, 04-29-2003 - 9:12am
"Do you REALLY think it does help them develop "female" nurturing qualities?"

Oh yes. Absolutely. Everyone has "masculine" and "feminine" qualities, but a lot of men choose not to express their feminine ones for fear of not being "macho." Now my DH is not like this at all - he even picks out curtains and has a better sense of decorating than I do. He is also a better cook than me. He is also Mr. Fix-it, but isn't afraid of typically "female" activities.

" figure that such qualities are mainly hormonal, and if you aren't producing the hormones b/c you're not lactating, then no matter how you're nurturing your child, it's just not gonna be "the same" KWIM? "

No, I don't know what you mean really. Are you saying I don't nurture my child because I don't lactate? No, of course it's not the *same* as BFing, but it's still feeding and nurturing. It's still a soft, cuddly, content, nurturing time with a bottle. I may not understand what it feels like to BF (emotionally) but by the same token you have not had a FF baby either - so it's not fair for you to assume feeding is only connected to nurturing via "hormones."

"Good point...but you realize these expectations aren't realistic, right? Maybe that makes it different? "

Not really - what you were saying is that men feeding wasn't realistic at one point in time. Now it is. If flying were to become realistic in the future (without an airplane LOL), I would be happy to have the opportunity to do that!

"Yeah, but do you think it's *normal* for him to feel that way, or do you think it's a feeling that is brought on by the trend in today's society "

I think it's normal for a parent of either sex to want to care for their child.

"do you think it's more a need to *help/bond* than to actually do the act of feeding per se?"

I'm not sure it matters. The actual act of bottlefeeding can be very cold if you want it to. After all, it is an external act where no hormones are released, etc. It is, however, a very close, cuddly, special time for us. She is never more happy and content than when she is having her bottle... and as she smiles around the nipple and reaches up to touch your face... it's practically impossible not to bond. So the act of bottlefeeding as a process is not very exciting (for lack of a better word) - it's what you make of that time - the only time she is so content.

-Deb

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Tue, 04-29-2003 - 9:14am
ITA. Good points. Thank goodness it's no longer *normal* for women to not own property, not vote, or have pretty much no opportunity to be a well-paid professional if I so choose. Since those were once not "normal" ... should we not desire those things either?

-Deb

 

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