How to Support Lactation, an Episode for Partners!

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Episode Transcript

August 20, 2021

What can I do to better support my partner through breastfeeding?!

Hello, all you wonderful listeners. I just wanted to give you a heads up that at the end of the episode, after the award in the alcove, we have a montage of clips that people have submitted of their partners talking about how they best supported them during their breastfeeding journey. And you might even hear some clips of our partners, me and Maureen.

Also, we have had a wonderful artist and designer named Hannah Scott, create a hilarious, supportive, beautiful partner t-shirt just for this episode. So be sure to click the link in the show notes and get your t-shirt now. And with promo code MILKMINUTE25, you can get 25% off, but only if you’re the first 20 people.

So get after it, go get your partner a really cute shirt  listen to the episode and make your partner listen too so they can support you in the best way they can. All right. Hope you enjoy.

This is Maureen Farrell and Heather O’Neal and this is The Milk Minute. We’re midwives and lactation professionals bringing you the most up-to-date evidence for all things lactation. So you can feel more confident about feeding your baby, body positivity, relationships, and mental health. Plus, we laugh a little or a lot along the way.

 Welcome. Welcome everybody. We are back here at The Milk Minute with a special episode today, just for your partners.

Yes. Which by proxy is for you. So if you weren’t ready for this, just pause it, go get them. Tell them this is a requirement and play it again.

Yeah. I got an email the other day from somebody who played our alcohol episode for their husband in the car on their way to a picnic because she planned on having alcohol and breastfeeding while she was there. And she wanted to make sure he was prepared with all the knowledge in case people gave her crap. That is a great tactic. Arm your partners with the knowledge.

But before that, let’s do a quick listener question and then stick around to the end and we’ll do an award. Yeah. Cause you never know; it could be you.

Okay. So I think we should do this question from Courtney E and she asks, what age are you supposed to stop using bottles? My son goes to daycare three days a week and I always send bottles because I want to make sure he gets enough breast milk and he doesn’t drink very well out of a sippy cup. Our pediatrician said we should stop using bottles soon, but I’m at a loss.

Well, this is different for everybody. And pretty much, no matter when you decide to quit, all the kids kind of catch up anyway, eventually. I mean, you don’t see a lot of kindergartners not able to use a regular cup, you know, they tend to catch up. Yeah. I mean, there’s definitely some concerns about your kid’s teeth if they use a bottle or a pacifier for too long, but what is too long? Right. Is too long, two years old? Three years old? Right.

But then also, do you want to be militant about it? Like my grandmother who had eight children and on their first birthday, listen to this, she would walk them with their bottle to the garbage can and they would throw it out together. She’d say, all right, happy birthday.

The garbage man is going to take your bottle now bye bye.

Oh my gosh. Well, that’s intense. Yeah. Yeah. So but to answer your question, Courtney, there isn’t an age you’re supposed to stop using them exactly, but a lot of people stop using them at six months, at one year, at a year and a half, you know, sometime in that range is pretty normal.

And it doesn’t have to be all at once, right? If you’re saying, okay, your daughter doesn’t drink great out of a sippy cup, maybe like start using a sippy cup at home for water, or just a little bit of breast milk. Or a straw cup, or one of those 360 cups and just play around a little bit.

And honestly, there’s nothing wrong with just going straight to a regular cup. You know, if your kid is a year old and they’re sitting up and they’re, you know, at daycare maybe, and they’re able to actually sit at the table for snack, you can give them a regular cup that’s small and just put a tiny, tiny amount in the bottom of the cup. You don’t give them a full cup. You give them exactly what you would like to clean up because they will spill it and that’s okay.

And we want them to mess up because then that’s how they learn. But I don’t like to really put kids in boxes for this kind of thing. But if they’re like 18 months old and you’re still struggling with this, I would probably say to ask your pediatrician.

Yeah, but you know, Lyra’s snoring everybody. But yeah, it, it doesn’t have to be today or tomorrow and it can be something you work on slowly. Yeah. Hang in there. Don’t put your baby in a box. All right let’s get into the episode. Yes, please.

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Okay. Partners, wives, others, spouses, spousal units, domestic partners, whatever you are out there. We want you to succeed in your relationship with your breastfeeding partner. And how do we do that? It’s definitely, it’s a challenge, but we have some tips. We have some myths to dispel also, and we want to acknowledge that it’s hard for you also, you know, it’s really hard to sit there and watch the person that you love the most in pain, crying, having anxiety, struggling, you know, that, that is hard to watch.

And maybe we should start out by acknowledging that and, you know, we get it. You want to fix that for the person you love the most. Right. And when you can’t fix it, then what? You know, if you don’t have the tools readily available, what are you supposed to do? Like, I, I always tell this story. This is a labor story, but I’ve seen this with breastfeeding too, but this one was just the most obvious.

She was in pain, in labor, completely normal. Everything was exactly the way it should be. And he is just pacing around the room. He cannot fix any of this for her. And eventually he looked me dead in the eye and he said, I’m going to go get an oil change. And I said, okay. And he went and he got an oil change because that’s something he could control and that’s something he could help. And then he came back and he was like, ready to be in the game. But like that feeling of not being able to put it anywhere was very difficult for him.

Yeah and I think the way that we see this expressed most often is that, you know, you’re looking at the person you love the most in the whole world with this new being that you’re kind of in the process of loving that much. But when you don’t birth that baby, it sometimes takes a little while. And so you’re watching this and you’re like, wow, this is torture. How can I fix it? Maybe we should just do a bottle. Maybe we should just do formula. And it seems like a reasonable solution from where you’re standing, but it’s really not a helpful thing to present in that moment.

Because when you say, why don’t you just do formula? She doesn’t hear, let’s solve this immediate problem. What she hears is you think my body isn’t enough to feed our baby. And that is a message that is very hard to fix once it’s out there and, and whether or not you meant it that way is kind of irrelevant because what we hear in those moments, when we’re like trying our hardest, we don’t want you to say, just quit.

We want you to say you rock, you can do this. Let’s figure it out together. And I think a better place, if your mind is in that kind of stuck in that solution-oriented place, you can think. Okay. So instead of trying to fix, you know, things, so everything’s better right away, how do we help heal this breastfeeding relationship?

And one way you could do that, you could be like, Hey honey, how about I call the lactation consultant? Oh, yeah, people actually, I would say 90% of my private consults are scheduled by the partners, which is great. That is a super supportive thing that you can do. And I think that’s something you should do and not, not everyone in their postpartum haze is going to think clearly enough to be like, oh yeah, that resource manual I got at the hospital with the number for the LC, it’s not going to happen. You know, but you are in such a good position to be one step away from that and kind of thinking a little bit more logically, a little more clearly, maybe with a little less sleep deprivation.

Yeah. That’s, that’s true, but let’s take a step back maybe and talk about what a supportive partner looks like. Yeah, let’s do it. Because I think a lot of the problem is that if you’ve never done this before, you don’t know what you don’t know where you’re going and you don’t know what the goal is.

Like, what is the goal? You just hit the nail on the head there. This is like, this is what we do as lactation professionals is we’re goal oriented, but not our goals. We work toward the goals of our clients, right? So we might sit there and hear a thousand different problems. And we could sit there and give a thousand different solutions, but probably almost none of those are the real problem.

And so, you know, you guys are in a really similar position as the spouse where you’re just hearing all the thousand different problems that you’re thinking, okay, cool. Well, we’re out of wipes so I can fix that. And we’re out of diapers so I can fix that. But none of those might be the real problem. And it really pays off to sit down with your spouse and your partner and say, what is your goal?

Great point. And you know, the only thing I was thinking of really, when you were saying that was that your partner might actually have birth trauma that you don’t have. You know, that feeling of helplessness and you know, becoming a parent for the first time, or maybe they’re revisiting old trauma of being out of control.

And now they’re met with all of these crazy expectations, which you cannot avoid and it’s with a new little person that you think you love more than anything in the whole world, or maybe they’re not there yet. Yeah. You know, that’s another reality too. It’s like when you got pregnant, your whole body changed and you became a birthing person, you know, you became the person that has the hormones.

Like you, you began that process and that doesn’t always start at the same exact time for partners. So they might be grappling with some guilt that they don’t, they’re not quite on your level yet. And I want to tell you that that’s okay as long as you know where you want to go is not where you are right now.

If you are a partner listening to this, I doubt you would be. If you weren’t interested in, you know, making this an easier transition in your life. But if you are truly like not feeling it, I would probably seek out a therapist and I would work through some of those things because you don’t want to miss an opportunity of a lifetime to actually be the best parent you could be and have a new person in your life to love.

If it’s truly something holding you back, but then again, if you just got somebody pregnant and you’re like, you know what, this isn’t for me, that is a great thing to find out because you might be doing the biggest favor in your life not sticking around. I hate to say that, but it’s true. And like, I know that’s going to be very controversial, but having had a baby with someone that doesn’t want to have a baby and then having a different experience, having a baby with someone that definitely wanted to have a baby, I can tell you that the person living their truth is the person that is going to be the best parent.

And I think the big takeaway from that is, you know, it’s important to know what, what your role is going to be as the non-birthing parent, right? And, and how you’re going to fit into that new dyad that suddenly exists in a way that you haven’t experienced yet.

Yeah. And I hear a lot from people. Like, I don’t know where I fit into this team. Like, I feel like you and the baby are a team and I’m on the outside. And you know, the birthing parent and the lactating parent is usually like, well join the team at any time, but they don’t know how.

Well, let’s maybe let’s talk about some, some ways that we can, we can join the team. Yeah. Let’s do it. So pregnant. If you’re still pregnant, let’s start there. Cause you can join the team from pregnancy. Absolutely. For breastfeeding. And I think the way that you start there is by education and it is not, let me say what not to do.

Don’t wait for your pregnant partner to say, here are the books to read and here’s the class to take. Because there’s this really big emotional and intellectual burden that traditionally a lot of women take in a relationship. And a lot of birthing people take where, you know, their minds are constantly doing this huge multitask and they’re thinking of a hundred things at once and you are an adult, you are their partner and you, you don’t need to be another thing that they have to do.

So take the initiative, right. Go to the bookstore and, you know, get the breastfeeding book, go to Heather’s website, Breastfeeding for Busy Moms and sign up for the class. You know, she does a whole part just about how to be a good partner.

Yeah. I give you like bulleted lists of things that you can do without being asked. Because isn’t it just the self-fulfilling prophecy that the birthing parent and lactating parent does all this work to prepare and then the other person is kind of banking on the fact that you know what you’re doing, but really your it’s your first time too. And then you expect that this person is going to just step up and maybe you even give them tangible, tactical advice.

Like, Hey, I would really appreciate it if you would do A, B and C, and then it doesn’t happen for whatever reason, or it doesn’t happen the way you wanted it to happen. And then you get anxiety, you feel like you have to do it yourself. So you do do it yourself. And then that birthing that other supportive partner feels like, oh, I suck, I can’t do this.

Heather and I get caught in this trap all the time, you know, and we have wonderful partners, but it still happens where we’re like, okay, here’s our a hundred thing to do list. I gave you five things to do. It didn’t happen yet. So I’m just going to do it myself. And then that wasn’t helpful for us. Our husbands don’t feel particularly useful or loved in that process.

So then they go and do things that they are good at and comfortable with. And then it’s like, oh, well, nothing’s changed for you. And everything’s changed for me. Yeah.

And it’s not a good hole to be in. So we want you guys at home right now to, to do some of the legwork. Get the education, get the resources, write down the number of the local LC and put it on your fridge, you know, call them and initiate contact. Do some product research and bring it to your partner and be like, Hey, I just learned about this cool haakaa or the LV curve.

And I thought maybe you would want one, like, how would I order one for you? You know, doing some of that means so much to, to someone who has just, who is either pregnant or has just birthed and basically had their brain totally explode and rewired. And their whole hormonal panel has been turned upside down.

I mean, you know, those little things where we didn’t have to ask for it, make a huge difference.

And, you know, I think if you get involved from the beginning and you guys are a team from the beginning, you’ll be able to kind of recognize when things are off, which is the most important job for partners.

They’re going to get messed up. It’s fine. No one’s going to be perfect all the time. No relationship is going to be perfect. But knowing when that happens and then like nipping it in the bud and being like, oh right, we’re both walking down this road where we end up defensive and mad and hurt.

But I mean, even like when, when your partner might be developing some postpartum anxiety or postpartum OCD behaviors. Because if you’ve had, if you’ve been educated and then you all of a sudden see that your partner’s pumping 8 times a day, 10 times a day, 12 times a day, you’ll be clued into the fact that, oh, wait, that’s not normal.

Right. Or when you’ve heard them for the thousands time, be like, can you straighten that stack of diapers in the corner? I can’t look at that, or I can’t, you know, I, I said this to my husband the other day, he walked in the house with muddy feet and I was having a really high anxiety day and I was sitting there nursing and he was like, what’s on your mind?

And I was like, I literally can’t think of anything other than the fact that you walked in the house with feet covered in mud. Go wash them now. Which is a little extreme, right? Like yes, muddy feet in the house. It wasn’t good, but you know, my brain was in that point where literally nothing else existed, but the problem.

Yeah. Yeah. And you know, before you get discharged from the hospital, typically when you do the discharge education, you tell the partners like, you’re going to be our point person for postpartum depression. Like people that have postpartum depression and anxiety are usually the last people to reach out.

And we’re lucky to catch it at a six-week appointment. And we do all the screenings that we do in our messed-up system, but people fall through the cracks and they would fall through the cracks a lot less if partners were aware of what was going on. You can call me or Maureen or your partner’s doctor and be like, Hey, full disclosure, my wife or my partner is just completely falling apart and I don’t know what to do.

And that is okay. Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, you can even like Google, you know, warning signs of postpartum depression, print it out, stick it on the fridge. I mean, just like in the postpartum, I literally take printouts of like postpartum medical warning signs for mom and baby. And I stick them on the fridge before I leave.

Just like that. You can do that, like give yourself tools to help you do what you need to.

Yes. And I also think that having the discussion ahead of time, where you kind of decide which jobs each person is going to be able to do and making sure it’s sustainable. Yeah. And then you check in about it later. And then you check in later you know, kind of just like when you get married or you move in with somebody for the first time. Like, okay, who’s taking the garbage out? Because unmet expectations arguments are the worst and the person can end up feeling like less of a person.

Like my husband has told me that before, like, you make me feel like I am the worst person. And I’m like, well, you’re not a bad person. That’s not what I’m saying, but clearly I’m saying it wrong.

I end up in that place with my partner too. You know, when I, when we’re, we’re not in a good place emotionally, and I asked him to do something, then his mind interprets as he’s not good enough and he’s not doing enough because I’m still asking him to do more. And that’s taken me a long time to acknowledge, and I’m still working on the delivery for that.

I’m sure he’s working on how to not take it personally. It’s, it’s complicated. It’s really complicated, you know, and I, and I think I, I’m not really sure the best advice. How to not take that personally and how to like, accept those words from your postpartum crazed partner. And it’s hard.

I think, and this has kind of helped us recently. I’m, you know, two and a half years postpartum, but I still feel sometimes like when you have kids it’s just nonstop and you know, you don’t have to stop doing your other jobs. You still have to work and do all the things. So these are fights that continue to happen. So it’s never a bad time to start doing these things and having these conversations.

But when my partner starts really having a hard time and I see that he’s not doing things that he normally does, like maybe he’s not taking out the garbage. Maybe he’s not emptying the dishes. I’m like, man, it’s been a week and you haven’t touched a dish, so I will address it. And I’ll be like, Hey, what’s going on?

Are you okay? Like, if you maybe start with a concern about their wellbeing before you start with the concern about what they haven’t done, I think it kind of reframes the conversation into a more productive space because there are times that he’s like, I just need to get out of here and he has to go hunting or he has to go fishing.

I get there too. Sometimes I’m like, I need to leave the house for one hour please. And don’t call me.

Right. And sometimes I need everyone to leave the house so I can be here by myself in my own space and listen to, you know, whatever the heck I want to listen to. Gloria Estefan from the nineties. And I want to bomb shake my conga and I don’t want anyone to watch me.

And that’s fine. And it has nothing to do with the garbage. So start with the wellbeing conversation and then go into the here’s what I’ve noticed. And is there anything I can do to help?

On that note, can we talk about anticipating needs? Cause there’s some fairly universal needs of, of lactating people, you know that you might just be able to like use this as your cheat sheet and just kind of blanket apply it to your partner and hope that it works out when you feel like you’re at a loss.

Yeah. Let’s do a list. I like lists. Me too. Okay. So I’m going to start because I’m currently, still occasionally stuck in bed for hours breastfeeding. We’re going to start with water. Oxytocin makes people really thirsty as we’ve talked about before. And I’m going to say more than 50% of people that I’ve talked to say that they get thirsty as soon as they start nursing. So like, you know, you’re and you probably, you know, after the first couple of days or even weeks, you know, like your partner’s habits with their baby. You know they’re going to sit in that chair and nurse or that side of the bed or wherever. So just like when you’ve got a minute, take three water bottles, fill them up, put them in those spaces, let it go, you know snacks go right along with that.

Right. A lot of people get hungry when they feed. So just like put a little bag of nuts next to that. Or a little cookie or a little piece of fruit. Oh yeah. That’s next level. If you’re putting little snacks next to my nursing station, I might actually get a twinge in my loins.

Yeah. I might think about sex like sooner than a year postpartum.

No promises. Maybe though. But so those are two really easy things, right? They take two minutes. And they kind of work all the time.

My thing then I’d like to put on the list is all of the other things that aren’t feeding. So if your partner who is breastfeeding has been up all-night breastfeeding and you don’t hear the baby, I understand.

Okay. We did that interview with Abigail Tucker, the author of Mom Genes. We know that biologically speaking, you are less likely to be aroused from sleep. Aroused from sleep? Arisen from sleep? Anyway, you’re less likely to be woken up in the middle of the night by the baby. I don’t know. Don’t be aroused, wake up, stop being so aroused.

You’re less likely to wake up in the middle of the night, which means that it’s your job to get up earlier than your partner, pack the lunches for the other kids. Make the coffee, make the coffee, put it by the bed, yes. Rinse out the milk frother, empty the French press and clean it out. Get her bag ready. Wash the dishes that are in the sink.

Yes. Switch the laundry. And I get that for some people, those kinds of tasks that are always there to be done, cease to exist if you’re not reminded.

You know, and I, and I get it, like for me, I have a couple of those things. My partner has some of those things. Like he just, you know, there’s that pile of things that he’s just forgotten about, even though it’s in plain sight or, you know, I’ve left tools out in the yard and I’ve totally forgotten about them.

Everybody has those things. So, but those are probably the things that make your partner who’s breastfeeding up in the bedroom right now, fucking crazy knowing they’re not getting done. So make a list. Make a list, make a list of sustainable things. That’s the thing. Do not make a plan to do things that you know you cannot do long-term. This isn’t something we do for a week. This is something we do for the next year.

Yeah. And it doesn’t have to be the same every day, but you know, if you’re like, okay, we’re all postpartum, we’re busy, we’re tired, but like, you know, I’ve got an extra 20 minutes of my day, then you know that person upstairs who just had a baby.

So, okay. Today I’m going to make it that I switched the laundry. Today I’m going to make it that I finished the dishes. I’d like to put something else on the list, please. Washing the pumping equipment. I was just thinking about that cause I left a sink full of pump parts when I left today and I was, and I just had a conversation like this with my husband who’s going to listen to this in a couple of weeks and be like you didn’t represent that exactly right. But it’s fine. Sorry, Ivan. But I I’ve asked him to wash pump parts a couple of times, but he, I think he’s really afraid of like fucking them up. And he was like, can you just show me how to wash them?

But I haven’t actually had time. So it’s been a frustrating point of tension between us where I’m like, I took it apart. Just wash them, just wash the things. They’re just dishes. But he wants me to show him, which is hard. It’s a point of tension. If it’s possible for you guys to watch a YouTube video, instead of asking your partner to show you, please do that. I will probably still go home and show Ivan how to wash the pump parts. I love you, dear. We also have an episode on cleaning and managing pumping equipment you could listen to. Yeah. So you guys can go and listen to episode 20. It’s titled Managing and Cleaning Breast Pump Equipment.

Yeah. Well, that’s on my mind cause I literally just left a sink full of pump parts cause I was out a bunch yesterday, like pumping and multiple times in the car and it was hot. So it was just like flinging parts everywhere.

Well, one option is to get a tub, like a plastic tub that you put in your sink or on, on the counter that’s just full of Dawn dish soap and water.

And you just throw the parts in there and then he can, he or she can wash them at the end of the day. Yeah. Yeah. And it’s easy to do. You wash them like any other dish, hot water, soap, just be gentle with the flexible parts. Yeah. Wash the pump parts, wash the haakaa, wash the breast shells, wash the breast pads.

Yes. And then also another thing is if your partner has had a C-section, a couple of things that I would like to specifically put on the list are changing the diaper and getting the baby ready to nurse in the middle of the night, because those nighttime feedings are really, really important initially for supply and maintaining supply and initiating supply.

For a person who’s had a C-section to actually physically get out of bed, pick a baby up that’s maybe eight pounds and change the diaper and then adjust the pillows and get ready and breastfeed. It can feel like running through molasses with a sword in your belly. And so if you hear, if she wakes you up and you, or you hear the baby crying just automatically get up.

My dad did this actually for my mom for her third C-section. He would get up, he changed the baby, he’d get her a glass of water. He’d get her pillow and he’d give her my little brother Josiah, and then he would go back to bed.

Yeah. And one thing you can do is step up in the administrative role in your family.

This one might be tough, you know, some places you have to do follow-up for your birth certificate for the baby. I just got my paperwork in the mail today because the wonderful man at the state office, Doug, who we work with all the time for home births, thought I made a mistake and I didn’t, and it took forever for me to actually call him back because that is my brain right now.

Yeah. Do that, do the follow-up, get it done. Get baby’s social security card. Put baby on insurance, call them and be like, Hey, my child was born. Here’s proof of birth. It exists. Give us health insurance.

Little tip. When you call to put your baby on insurance, get the name of the person you talk to and get a confirmation email emailed to you. Because one time I had a baby on Christmas Eve and my husband called on Christmas day to put the baby on the insurance. And he was really tired, but he did it and they put her on. They did not email us a confirmation. Oh no. They paid for her first two days of life, but then they had a software change a couple of days later, like right at the first day of the year and dropped her from the insurance.

And so then nothing was paid for, I was getting bills for like 20 grand, because it would’ve been a lot easier if we just had that one little confirmation email, we were like, no, I swear. He called, I, I know he called. And then I asked him, I’m like, did you call? And he’s like, I, I called, I think I called. I don’t know. I don’t know who I talked to. So that’s a pretty important conversation.

Anytime you do anything with an insurance company, that is a good tip. What’s your name? Can you send me a confirmation email? Yeah. They won’t give you their last name, but if you can get it fine. Yeah.

Well the mistake. Well, so what happened with Lyra’s birth certificate, so I don’t know how it works in everybody else’s state or country, but here the forms are filled out. They’re sent to vital statistics. They check them over; they send you this like bullshit mother’s copy of the birth certificate. And then you have to send them a check for your real copy.

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You have to pay for it, which I think is stupid. Anyway. So I was like sitting here at like seven or eight weeks postpartum, like, huh? Did I miss that in the mail? Like, oh no, you know, it usually takes a month or so. And I was just like, I can’t like, what happened? Did I accidentally throw it away?

Oh yeah, that panic. Oh my God. And then you’re yelling at your partner. Did you throw away a stack of mail? Right. And then thankfully, you know, and then I got a call from vital statistics and then I played phone tag with Doug for like five days, because that’s how life is when you have a baby. And I’m like, okay, I’ll call him back. Oh, he didn’t answer.

Oh, he’s calling me back. She just shit herself. Like, yeah, baby poop on my hands. Anyway, I finally called him back and he manages basically every single home birth certificate. I don’t know why that is how it is in West Virginia, but it is though. Yeah, he’s great. And he very kindly wanted to double check that I didn’t make a mistake because my husband actually changed his last name between the birth of our son and the birth of our daughter. He took my last name. Did he really?

Yeah. We were initially going to have separate ones and then, but I, but our son had my last name and it like got very confusing very quickly because people kept being like, so are you related to him? Like at like, you know, DHHR or the insurance? It’s just, it was a mess. And I was like, okay, well we need to maybe change this.

And my husband was like, well, I can just take yours, it’s fine. I have no attachment to my name. It’s just a name. Doesn’t matter. Anyway. So Doug was like, it just, it said this name on your son’s birth certificate. How he noticed that from five years ago, I don’t know. That’s crazy. And then he was like, and this one on your daughter’s birth certificate. And I just wanted to make sure He’s like unless you have two partners named Ivan, which is pretty impressive.

It was very sweet. He’s like, I just want to make sure it wasn’t a mistake.

Sorry. I only date guys named Ivan.

I just got her birth certificate form in the mail today. So anyway, as you can tell from our stressful stories, it would be much better if you could take that off the plate. If you could, or the majority of it, that would be lovely.

The multitude of doctor’s visits, if you could go to that first month of doctor’s visits, because let me tell you what it’s about to be like for your partner who’s breastfeeding. You go to your doctor’s visit that’s maybe scheduled at noon. You get there, wait 45 minutes, the nurse says, get your baby undressed, the doctor will be in soon. Now you have a naked baby in the room that’s cold for 45 minutes waiting for the doctor. Doctor gets there, right in time for baby to be hungry. So you’re trying to nurse, she’s also trying to relay information that she barely remembers because she hasn’t slept. And then finally they do the exam and then the baby poops everywhere and then needs to feed again.

And then she’s trying to pack up everything in the diaper bag and the car seat. Yeah. And then the doctor’s like, okay, so here’s five things you need to do. Here’s a handout. See you in two months. Right? So having your partner there is amazing to be able to write down anything that we need to remember, help get packed up and help carry.

Especially if they’ve had a C-section, help carry that baby back to the car. Because, oh my gosh, you, if you’ve never been to a postpartum visit before where you have to actually go to an appointment, when your partner gets home with that baby, and they look at you and you’ve just had a regular day at work, they will want to murder you.

Oh and their eyes or you have the, I have the crazy eyes when I get home from something like that. Especially if I also had to take my son. Yeah. Right. Who’s five and energetic would be the nicest way to describe him right now. Yep.

Yeah. So definitely do everybody a favor and go to that first month of visits at least.

Yeah. And just, just for moral support, for memory support. That’s a real thing we need, you know, as we mentioned in our interview with Abigail Tucker, we literally lose gray matter in this process. Verbal recall is one of the places in the brain where we lose a lot of that gray matter connection.

Oh yeah. So if we’re sitting there and, you know, somebody asks, how has the doctor’s appointment? What did they say? And we’re like, well I, they said something, I put the thingy in the thingy, and then this happened. And then the baby pooped. And then I think, what day is it? So please help out there.

By the way it’s thundering. So if you can hear some crazy thunder in the background at that is something I cannot control in this audio. Sorry. Lyra’s poops, burps, farts, and the thunder. And she’s been snoring this episode. She’s been so good.

Anything else we want to put on this list? I mean, so many things, but you know what’s a good one? Wash and change the bed sheets. Especially the crib, if you’re using a crib, because it is really hard for a C-section patient to get that. It’s just, I find it a difficult thing to do in our bed anyway, because of the way it’s like against the wall. But I feel like I need the sheets changed literally every day right now. I sweat through them every night. The baby at least spits up on them once, if not 10 times, plus a pee. I leak milk on them still, you know, 10 weeks postpartum or whatever I am now, who knows.

And then there’s, then we start to lose hair on the sheets. It’s just, it’s a lot. And some nights I sit in bed and I’m like, oh God, I’m sitting in spit up. And the crumbs from the snack ate last night and that my five-year-old ate in bed too but I’m already here and I’m nursing. And I’m just going to sit with my butt in the crumbs and the spit-up and then probably fall asleep.

Yeah, that’s a bad look. And it doesn’t, it doesn’t really put anybody in a, in a mood to snuggle or build a relationship. No, a nice thing my partner did last night because he wanted to snuggle is he went and got the window air conditioner down from the attic and put it in the window, which should have happened like a month ago.

But it didn’t because of our life, you know. And he clearly wanted to snuggle and looked at me like sweating bullets. Right. But this look in my face that was like, don’t touch me. Don’t even think about it. Nobody touch me. But you know what, on that note, we do need to mention, take the sexual pressure off. Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

And let’s Heather, let’s take a second to talk about why, because I’m going to assume, not every person out there who is not currently lactating, like you probably haven’t listened to every episode, if you want to listen to our Sexpisode. Yeah. So definitely check out episode six, the Sexpisode.

But in case you don’t have time, we wanted to give you a couple of tips right now. Yeah. I, I mean, I guess I just want to explain first, like what’s happening so that you can set your expectations correctly. Yeah. So first of all, if you circle the date on the calendar, six weeks postpartum, you’re wrong.

Don’t do that. So I just want to say that having an entire human being come out of your body, whether it’s through your vagina or through your abdomen, that is a lot. And it really does, even if you’re not breastfeeding after, that really doesn’t make most people want to then have intercourse. Yeah, like we’re, we’re not there.

But if we are breastfeeding after that, we also end up in this hormonal state that’s not conducive to having sex because our bodies have just expended this huge amount of effort. And we are in this state where we’re giving all of our resources to a tiny baby and our bodies do not want to be pregnant again.

Yeah. It is pretty much gearing every hormone and biological process towards not getting pregnant, which means that we don’t feel like having sex. And in addition to that, you have a physiologic issue of dryness because of the hormones, right. We have a lack of estrogen, which makes your tissues a little bit less bouncy and less lubricated.

So if you do try to have sex, you know, with consent of your partner and it’s a little dry, don’t take it personally. It’s not that you’re not turning her on or him on it that it’s just not functional at this time.

Yeah. And I do want to say that respecting that is really important. And part of respecting it, isn’t just respecting a no when you hear that, but it’s also, sometimes it means not asking. You know, my, my husband and I had this conversation, especially the first time postpartum where I was like, Hey, if you ask me if I want to have sex or when I’m going to be ready to have sex every single day, I’m pretty sure the answer is going to be no forever.

Yeah. And the reason is because we’re so overwhelmed at this moment with so many new things in caring for other people, it’s like hard enough to find the joy in what you’re doing right now. And then there is pressure to enjoy the sex. You know, there is, and if you feel like you can’t enjoy it, or you won’t be able to, it doesn’t feel like you should start and there can be compounding mom guilt with that and partner guilt with that.

That’s not a good feeling and you don’t want that associated with your sexual relationship. And don’t ever forget, because she won’t, the way you make her feel during this postpartum period will stay with her forever. Yeah.

And I want to say that, that doesn’t mean that that’s it. You don’t matter your needs and wants don’t matter. That’s not right. But there are other ways for you to get what you need and to create the environment that’s going to then make your partner who just gave birth, want to have sex sooner and more. You know, you first stop asking and then realize that one of your main needs, isn’t really physical sex, it’s intimacy and it’s connection.

And you can get those in so many other ways. And sometimes you have to work for that too, in the postpartum, right? You might have to get a babysitter for the older kids and make dinner and do the dishes and make it so that your partner doesn’t have anything on her mind.

Yeah. And also the things that turned her on before having a baby are probably a little bit different now. So I mean, if you guys did some cosplay before, that might be off the table, now. It might be more like you washing the pumping parts with your shirt off, that might do.

Or wearing the baby. I think baby wearing is super sexy and a lot of other people do and they’re like, wow, that’s my person over there in that. And he figured out that cute little baby wrap and that cute little baby butt and his cute butt. That’s also great. And don’t ever miss an opportunity to tell her how beautiful she is and what a beautiful job she’s doing. If she’s laying down nursing the baby and the lighting is just perfect and they look really sweet and serene together.

Say something. That is not the time to hold back on being sweet. So dig deep, tell her when you feel it. Your patience and understanding in this time is going to pay off in the long run. It is going to make your sexual relationship much healthier for longer. Right. You know, if you even, without realizing it, if you’re pressuring your partner to have sex before they’re ready, postpartum, there’s going to be resent. Sometimes if we’re creating guilt and shame around not wanting to have sex, that really blurs the line of minds of consent.

Yes. And that whole thing doesn’t build health for your relationship. You know, you need to be looking at the long game here. Where you want to have a healthy, fun sex life when you’re in your forties and your fifties and your sixties. And really, it doesn’t matter what happens for the next six months or a year, as long as you’re respectful and loving and patient.

Yes. And keep in mind that this person who’s feeding your baby already has somebody who’s invading their personal space without consent 24/7 touching them all the time. Yeah, there is. There’s a term we use a lot called being touched out, which means that you have just been touched so much that you do not want anything else or anyone else to touch you. But if you give them enough space, eventually they might come to you.

Yeah, and I, and that’s the goal. You want to feel wanted. We all want to feel wanted. And if you create a healthy environment, a supportive environment, your partner is going to reach back out to you and is going to want you, which feels so much better than asking and begging and guilting. And it’s tough.

You know, it’s a really tough thing to navigate. So much of every day when you’re postpartum feels like a year. So it’s hard to imagine the long game, but truly when you have kids, all of these things that you’re doing right now are foundational. You won’t even remember half of the shit that you did in your postpartum period.

You won’t. You’ll spend hours and hours and hours a day just staring at your baby, trying to like memorize it. You won’t remember it. I feel like I can’t remember basically the first year of my son’s life. This right now, I’m going to forget it. Yep. Yeah. I mean, we’re just not really meant to remember it. I think we wouldn’t have more kids if we remembered it with perfect clarity.

Exactly. But you know what I do remember? I may not remember exactly the way my child looked, but I remember exactly how my partner acted and made me feel. Yeah, absolutely. And that’s unfortunate sometimes, but it’s true. And it, yeah. We’re going to ask you to step up and we’re going to put a little bit of pressure on you here, because you’re the only one that can do this.

We can’t do this for you. It has to come from you. You have a beautiful opportunity to build a foundation for the next lifetime with your partner. And if you miss it, you know, that’s on you, unfortunately.

Yeah. And, and I want to say, you know, this episode is not just about what not to do, you know, it’s, it’s really, this is us kind of giving you, giving you some help, giving you some advice that a lot of other parents don’t get.

Yeah. And just really some perspective and permission to do the things that maybe your partner can’t ask you to do. You know, like we’re telling you, if you go ahead and wash the pumping parts, she can’t be mad.

No. And if you, you know, if, if you’re like, Hey, the baby’s crying anyway, how about I hold it while it cries and you take a shower?

Yeah. That’s sexy as hell. Please. Yeah. I mean, there’s so many little things like that, that before having a baby, you wouldn’t even think of. Of course you don’t have to help somebody shower, you know, and I mean, or, or find time to pee or fill up the water bottle, you know? But, but once you have this little, tiny human who needs absolutely everything in order to live from your, you know, from the person that birthed them, right.

Suddenly your whole world gets turned upside down and it becomes your job not necessarily to even take care of your new baby, but to take care of your partner who is taking care of your new baby. And we’re not asking you to sacrifice everything. We’re just asking you to be honest with your needs, be honest with your partner and do the best you can.

And if you feel like you’re coming up short, or you feel like you’ve got a big roadblock that you’ve run into, seek help, take a break, communicate and lubricate. Okay. And you know what, here’s a good tip everybody. So instead of saying, what can I do to help? Or what can I help you with? Why don’t you think of one thing that you, that might be helpful and say, would it be helpful if I did this now?

Would it be helpful to you if I wash your pump parts? Would it be helpful to you if I washed your pump parts or would it be helpful to you if I change the sheets, right? Or would it be helpful if I gave the baby a bottle of pumped milk or would it be better if, instead I just woke up with you and we talked in the middle of the night while you nursed?

Yeah. Any of those things are great, you know? Cause it’s, it’s really just, you can never know what, what thing like that is going to be the most helpful without asking. And often when you’re in that position of no sleep, crazy hormones, baby sucking at your boob, and someone says, how can I help? You’re like, I don’t fucking know.

And you just sit there and your mind goes blank. And then they walk away because they’re scared of you. And then you’re like, I missed it. My one opportunity to get anything done. Oh, wash the diapers. That was it. That’s what I needed. Now it’s too late. And then they come back and you’re like, I think, I think I’m thirsty.

Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, do the best you can. I hope that this helped you all. I know this is a lot of information. You don’t even have to remember all of this because if your heart is in the right place and you are doing the best you can and you know who to call when you can’t handle it anymore, that’s half the battle.

Yeah. And honesty, loving, kindness. I mean, that’s, that’s kind of what we’re getting at here. And even if your partner is being crazy, you can give them a hug. That’s pretty much always what you need. I would say, even if you’re over touched sometimes. Sometimes. I often struggle with that and I said, this to my partner, like, Hey, if you can see that crazy look in my eye, like, just ask before you hug me.

Sometimes I have trouble with that. Me too. But then once he’s squeezing me, I feel like one of those cows right before the slaughter, where I finally calmed down and I’m like, all right, you know what? That is what I needed. All right, guys. Well, thank you so much for tuning in today. And you know what? Before we head out, let’s do a quick award.

Oh, we have to.


Maureen, did you know that any time I’ve ever tried lube in my life, my vagina reacts like it’s mad at me? Yeah. You have mentioned that to me before. Yeah. I had, I used to call it ABD, angry vaginas disorder, but the good news is I actually found a product that I really love. And this is serious. I’m not joking.

This is not just something that I am saying to say on an ad. I love UberLube. It’s a natural product that does not have any like artificial, anything in it. And it works with your body and it actually lasts a pretty long time if you know what I mean? Yes, I do know what you mean. And I know that our listeners need lube kind of more than anything in the postpartum.

Like breastfeeding’s a dry time guys. Yeah. And it’s not your fault. That’s kind of a normal side effect of breastfeeding, but it doesn’t mean your relationship has to suffer. Or even your relationship with yourself. Yeah. So get yourself some UberLube by clicking the link in the show notes, or you can go to UberLube.com and enter the promo code MILKMINUTE. Happy lubing everyone.

Yes. Okay. So the award today goes to Kayla Evans. Kayla, she did something amazing and she ordered an alarm that goes on the chest freezer. So, and it goes off if the freezer gets left open because her wonderful partner has accidentally left the freezer open overnight twice now. And somehow the milk remained frozen, but she’s super nervous that if it happens again, it will definitely defrost.

Yes. So first of all, that was innovative and amazing. Good idea. Yeah. You get the Doomsday Prepper award because there is no, there is nothing worse for a pumping parent than finding a thawed freezer of your own milk. It’s the ultimate doomsday event. Yeah. People might not recover from that. Heads will roll.

Hey, you know, before we go, let’s also thank a patron. We’ve got so many new patrons on our Patreon and I want to thank each and every one of you. So today I want to thank Irena from Colorado. I’m so excited to have you joining our Patreon community.

Yes, absolutely. And can we think another one too? Yeah, go ahead. I would love to thank Amanda from Washington state. Thank you so much. I know we are slowly getting more listeners in Washington and you’re one of them. So your merch should be on the way, and we just love having you. And we will see all of our dairy queen patrons once a month at our live Q and A’s.

We wanted to make sure that you all had all the support that you needed. So we called in some favors with all of the best guys that we know. So we wanted these awesome supportive partners of breastfeeding individuals to come and give their advice to you themselves. So here we go.

First up is my own husband. Jonathan, thank you so much for being so supportive during my journey. Get over here, you.

Jonathan: All right. So I really never gave a whole lot of thought about this, but the best I can remember, I basically just did whatever she asked. So if she said, jump, I said how high? And just tried to make her as comfortable as I possibly could. And that was my approach.

Heather: Next up, I wanted to hear from my good friend and neighbor, Adam, he is so sweet with his wife, Angela, and I really am inspired by the way they live their lives and the way they treat each other. And I just knew I wanted to know how he supported Angela during breastfeeding.

Adam: Okay, so some of my own reflections. Well, so my wife and I have two children and she has breastfed both of them. I’d say that the experiences have been fantastic each time and different, right? So with our first child, our son. I think it was important for her to have time and space just to, to be a mom. So that entailed me taking care of everything I possibly could around the house, all of the little things like dishes and cleaning and answering the phone and just doing whatever I could to make things easier for her. Paying bills, you know, all of that daily minutiae that we have to do, but don’t always, you know, want to. So I fielded all of that. I also wanted her to know that, you know, she was beautiful and this was a great thing that our family grew and, you know, if breastfeeding took time, so what? You know, we would figure it out.

With the second child, our daughter, she was obviously experienced in breastfeeding but still I wanted her to have time and space just to enjoy being a mom and also to not worry about breastfeeding in public. So that was something I remember talking with Angela about. And, you know, we decided that whenever either child was hungry, that’s when they would eat.

And we would just find a quiet spot. And if anyone was gawking or, or looking or giving bad looks, I, I would field those for her and just give her again space. So those are some of the initial things I can think of offhand.

Dani, Steven: Hi, this is Dani Gutierrez and my husband, Steven Gutierrez. Hello. Stephen, when were you first introduced to the world of breastfeeding? When our daughter was born about nine months ago.

How did you feel, or what were your thoughts when you first learned that I wanted to breastfeed and I was bringing home books and joining all sorts of Facebook pages? I was all for it. I mean, you were really into it and I mean, less work for me, right? No, but you also had gone over a lot of the things like the benefits for the baby, and I really trust you.

How do you help carry the household parenting load since I take care of majority of feeding the baby? I just make sure to pick up more chores around the house, whether it’s cooking, cleaning, or even grabbing something to help you with breastfeeding. I also wash your breast pump tools on regular basis and those get dirty real quick.

In what ways are you supportive of our breastfeeding journey when it comes to feeding in public or explaining our choices to your family? I just try to make sure you’re comfortable when you’re feeding, whether that’s shoving a blanket or pillow under your arm, or make sure you’re covered up in public so you’re comfortable and feel like not everyone’s staring at you. That’s, that’s basically all.

Moms and babies can develop a special bond because of breastfeeding. How can you or other partners develop their own bond with the baby? Just make sure you still spend time to help put them to sleep every once in a while. Don’t always put it on your wife. One of my daughter’s things with me is she always rubs the stubble on my face while she falls asleep. And that’s, that’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

What were you surprised to learn about breastfeeding? How sweet your milk is also how convenient it is. Like last weekend, we went on a trip to Arizona and you were just like a walking factory. We didn’t need anything else. Your, you know, popped out the boobs, ready to go.

What advice do you have to anyone new to breastfeeding and how they could be supportive of their partner? Just know that it’s a lot of work for them, especially, and you need to be there to support them at all times. It’s just because you’re not actively the one doing the breastfeeding, it doesn’t mean that there’s not a job for you to do.

My name is Ian. I’m partner to Elaine on her breastfeeding journey. And so I’m supposed to talk about how I supported her, which I think is a really hard question because it feels like as a partner, there’s not a lot you can really do to support because certainly something that she’s going through on her own and her own journey. But as a partner, I think, you know, just a couple of things they tried to do.

And one is certainly she’s going through a lot of things and had to do a lot of sort of troubleshooting and pumping and dealing with mastitis. So on my end often while she was doing that, you know, just spending as much time with the baby as possible. And for us, you know, that meant he was he was taking a bottle a lot of the time while she was pumping or doing other things.

So the first thing was really just having a lot of time to be with the baby and giving him a bottle so that she could have the time to take care of herself and do what she needed to do. And the second thing was I think, just providing support and listening, and also if she wanted it, trying to help with some of the troubleshooting and doing what I could. And so helping her out just by, you know, looking things up and also kind of being the person that had to take care of logistics, like ordering the actual things that she needed to help her out you know, going on Amazon and getting the sort of heating pads and all that kind of stuff.

And actually just being the one to buy that and take care of all of that sort of logistical stuff and yeah. And helping a little bit with research and things like that, but mostly just providing time and as much, you know, taking care of both the baby and sort of household things as I could. And then also helping out with sort of materials and logistics.

Yeah. Cause you helped relieve a lot of that stress that I guess when I was feeling very stressed about not knowing what was going on or whatever you, yeah, just kind of helped to remind me what, like the different options I had and just trying to keep me like remembering what those things were, cause I often would be very emotional about stuff like that.

Yeah. So trying to walk a fine line of not trying to solve your problems, but if you wanted advice being there to give you advice when that was the correct time to do so. Yeah. But I mean, do you think like, because we definitely with how hard things were like, I know I definitely came to a point where I, like, I came close to quitting a lot. I feel like, and you kind of gave me the space to be able to do that if I wanted. Well, I asked, I think I maybe just as sort of an outsider, it was easy for me to remind you that it was okay to stop if you needed to stop. And I think you were really attached to continuing to do it. And you had a goal in mind. Was just trying to remind you that that goal could change and it didn’t have to be what you had it set up initially and that that was okay. Yeah. Anything else? No, I think that’s everything..

Heather: So there you have it straight from the horse’s mouth. We’re obviously here to support you if you need anything. You can email Maureen and I at [email protected] and continue listening to other episodes to get more knowledge so you can continue helping your breastfeeding partners. Thank you so much for listening and for caring.

Maureen: All right guys, Lyra’s awake. It’s time to rock and roll and take a big poop in this diaper.

So we’ll see you next time. Bye-bye.

Thanks for listening to The Milk Minute. If you haven’t already please like, subscribe, and review our podcast wherever you listen. If you’d like to support our podcast, you can find us on Patreon at Patreon.com/MilkMinutePodcast to send us feedback, personal stories, or just to chat, you can send us an email at [email protected]

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