Advantages of Breastfeeding to the Father and to Siblings
Breastfeeding offers an entirely new dimension to the way a man perceives his partner's body. The breasts that give and receive pleasure between lovers literally give life and nurturance to the newborn they have created. Interestingly, during orgasm, the tiny muscle cells surrounding milk glands contract and squeeze milk into the ducts, causing milk to spray spontaneously from the breasts. This intricate interplay between making milk and making love serves as a beautiful reminder of how delicately intertwined are the sexual and functional roles of the breast. The partner of a breastfeeding woman has the rich opportunity to share in the full reproductive cycle beginning with conception and continuing through pregnancy, labor, delivery, lactation, and weaning. Today, when families tend to be smaller, many fathers will have only one, two, or three opportunities to fully experience the incredible grandeur of nature's magnificent reproductive plan, which includes the unique reciprocal relationship of breastfeeding. Countless fathers, including my own husband, would attest that missing out on the chance to witness their wife or partner breastfeed their babies would represent the loss of a whole dimension of reproduction and family life.
Advantages of Breastfeeding to Siblings.
You may not have given much thought to how your other children will be enhanced by your decision to breastfeed. But even siblings can be recipients of some important benefits of witnessing their mother breastfeed a younger brother or sister.
Siblings of breastfed infants receive valuable, firsthand exposure to the functional role of the breast, which helps equip them to become future breastfeeding mothers or support persons.
Today's children are bombarded with the image of the bottle-feeding baby. Bottles and formula are highly visible in the media, on supermarket shelves, and in public. Dolls come with bottles; bottles appear in children's books and as decorations on baby items. Because few women breastfeed in public, many children have little familiarity with the functional role of the breasts. For example, the sixth-grade son of a woman I know was studying mammals in school. He and a classmate were assigned to explain why humans were mammals. "We could show a baby drinking a bottle of milk," one boy suggested to the other, seemingly unaware that mammals drink their own mother's milk!
Children should not have to grow up believing that bottle-feeding is the societal norm. If they are exposed to breastfeeding as a part of family life, they assume it is the natural way to feed a baby. Perhaps you have observed youngsters who lift their shirts and put their doll or teddy bear to their own breast. These children often are those who were breastfed well into toddlerhood or who witnessed their siblings being nursed. One nursing toddler I know had been exposed to numerous breastfeeding infants among her mother's friends, and she had never seen a baby drink from a bottle. When a bottle-fed baby, Christopher, joined her day care home, the little girl was fascinated by his strange method of taking milk. The next time she saw a woman bottle-feeding at the mall, she turned to her mother and said, "Christopher," believing the only baby who drank from a bottle was Christopher. Another youngster who had been thoroughly indoctrinated in the functional role of the breast inquired why an older woman had breasts since she didn't have any babies to feed. Countless contemporary women of childbearing age wish they had had the privilege of observing breastfeeding as a youth before attempting to nurse their own baby for the first time.
From Dr. Mom's Guide to Breastfeeding by Marianne R. Neifert. Copyright © 1998 by Marianne R. Neifert. Used by arrangement with Plume, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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