A FAINT-HEARTED FATHER'S GUIDE TO BEING AROUND BREASTFEEDING
To look or not to look, asks Harry Oram
A dad's guide to being around breastfeeding
The baby first aid lessons I went to as an expectant father are forever ingrained in my memory, and not for the right reasons.
Picture the scene, it was in a room full of mothers with their brand-new babies. My wife and I didn’t have our own baby by then, so we felt like we’d turned up to a party without a bottle of wine.
It was absolute carnage. Everywhere I looked there were big breasts and babies. As soon as I hastily removed my eyes from one mother’s suckling infant, I was confronted with another one, pumping away.
This wasn’t I Know What You Did Last Summer, but I did want to hide behind the sofa. I still break out in a nervous sweat when I recall one shaven-headed earth mother who was soothing her baby with drum and bass music at 160 BPM, in between bursts of breast milk.
I was the only man in the room, nestled on a sofa between two sets of busy boobs, and there were many more mothers on many more sofas around the room. Seriously, if Snoop was to rap about it he would say something about how he had babies in the living room latching it on, and they were all drinking till six in the morn.
Sorry, Snoop. A pocketful of rubbers was the last thing on my mind. I had never been so terrified in all my life. I didn’t want any of these lovely ladies to think I was a voyeur.
My baby is now three and though I’m still no expert on parenting I do have two simple rules for men when they’re around breastfeeding.
- Stay cool.
- Do not make people think you are a perv.
When you notice a woman breastfeeding it’s important to strike the balance between these two. Don’t flinch or open your mouth in an ‘O’ when you see the stranger’s nipple. Stay calm. Almost like you’re reassuringly comfortable with the whole thing even though your inner perv alarm is screaming for you to look away.
So allow an extra second to pass and then slowly look away.
And, if you’re a mother, and a random guy gets an unexpected eyeful of your breast, trust me, he’s probably confused and worried that you think he’s trying to look at your tits, when really it’s quite the opposite!
As a horny teenager I’m sure I thought very differently about breastfeeding. But trust me, when you’ve been comforting your sobbing, half-suicidal wife when her milk comes in, and she’s shouting about how she feels like a cow, and you’re there holding a hand pump for her and squirting it, then ‘sexy’ is definitely not the word I would give it.
Breast pumps are hours of fun. It’s weirdly nice to feel useful for once. And, when I got a nice rhythm on that thing, I could fill a bottle in less than a minute. It’s like a messed-up computer game, only the final boss is screaming at you about how much her tits hurt.
Breastfeeding is beautiful! Weird, crazy, and a horror film at times, but when it’s your own kid and you’re staring at your wife and how she’s nurturing your baby and growing him with her milk, it’s one of the most incredible things to witness as a dad.
I’ve noticed a question I get asked a lot about breast milk, particularly by guys who don’t have kids, is, ‘Did you ever drink it?’
The honest answer is that no, although it was tempting at times. When you’re holding a warm bottle of fresh breast milk it’s intriguing to know what it is that is helping your baby grow, but the idea always creeped me out. I would just put every sample in the freezer like a diligent scientist who didn’t want anything to interfere with his work. I kept it purely professional.
As a dad, it’s quite satisfying when you’ve got your own milk empire in the freezer, you start to get tempted to start a business to all the dirty perverts on eBay when you’ve got too much stock.
But most of all, I always found it fascinating how the milk always seemed to have a slightly blue tint to it. Did anyone else notice that?