For National Breastfeeding Month, Grok Nation is running a series about nursing by our founder, Mayim Bialik, who is a Certified Lactation Educator Counselor (CLEC). For her past posts full of tips, tricks and advice, click here.
I often am asked about how breastfeeding affects relationships.
Breastfeeding is indeed a big time commitment and it can bleed into your evening hours and your all night hours. Sleeping near your baby facilitates a strong milk supply and excellent bonding and also cuts back on exhaustion, but how does that affect your partner?! And what about breasts? Your breasts are the way your baby survives and thrives and this means it can be confusing for women and their partners when they become sexual again.
It is true that breastfeeding can put strain on a relationship, but here are 3 things to remember.
- A new baby also puts strain on a relationship! It’s not only breastfeeding babies who have night needs. All babies tend to need you 24/7. Sure, breastfeeding is a different kind of commitment, but do keep in mind that it’s not just the way you’re feeding baby that might put a strain on your relationship. For most of human history, women lived near other women who helped care for their baby. The notion of a couple alone in a house raising a small human is relatively new.
- Having a baby sleep safely near you makes having a new baby, especially a breastfeeding one, easier. Many people, including Barbara Walters on live television, have asked me: “Where do you have sex if the baby is right there?” Oh, Barbara. Here’s a secret: People tend to figure out places to have sex. Sure, the bed is most convenient and comfy, but if the baby is in it or around it, people motivated to make love get creative pretty quickly. It’s really not a thing to worry about.
- Speaking of your partner. And breasts. So, yeah. Some partners don’t like sharing their partner, and her breasts, with a baby. I’m not sure what to say to those people. Let’s try this: “You may like your partner’s breasts, but they are not YOURS. They are the way she needs to keep your baby alive.” Also, breasts can still be loved up when a woman is nursing. Enough stimulation will indeed cause milk to be “let down” but it’s not like nipples are a straw. So without getting too graphic, they can still be loved and adored. And if that freaks you both out, that’s fine. There are other ways to be intimate. This is not forever.
One of the things I remember most about being a new mom, especially in the first year, is the feeling that everything is forever. That every stage is forever: breastfeeding, not sleeping, tantrums, whatever….
I’m here to tell you that it’s not forever and you will get through it. Your partner and you need to communicate your feelings to each other. Be honest and trust that you are doing the best you can to feed your baby and to be a good partner. Your relationship can handle this.