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How to make cynical DH support me in my plans to BF......

(71 Posts)
Neeerly3 Sun 01-Feb-09 15:24:59

Hi there - currently 37 weeks with DC3, previous two were prem twins so did not breast feed, but expressed for entire time they were in hosp, so had a good start (8 weeks).

I fully intend to BF this one, but DH keeps pulling faces and whining everytime it's brought up. Bottom line is he wants to help, he knows I need sleep and plenty of it, he knows that this time it's not as simple as sleeping when baby sleeps during the day to catch up as I have the other two (who are 4 and don't nap anymore) to look after. He wants to do the night feeds, or at the very least help.

He has also got these pre-conceived ideas that BF babies don't sleep through as early as FF babies and worries about me going back to work in June and having to switch to bottles (I agree with him in that I don't want to be expressing at work etc just to keep it all going).

What can I say/do to get his full support? So far I have simply stuck with the "it's my decision" argument, but he does have a point that this is his child too and he wants to be involved, and BF WITHOUT his support is going to be hard especially as I know the first few weeks will be hard and worry that as soon as I start to struggle he'll be there, grinning, with a warmed bottle of formula, thinking "I told you so", instead of letting me get on with it and helping me to get it established.

Anyone go through this and come out of it with a DH who is totally Pro breast feeding?

Neeerly3 Sun 01-Feb-09 15:49:38

bumping in case I am lost amoungst the confusion that is the new format......

hotCheeseBURNS Sun 01-Feb-09 15:54:43

There's so much else he can do to help and be involved - nappy changing anyone?

You're right that it will be hard if you don't have his support - make sure you have a lot of support from friends/family/groups etc.

It can't be hard to convince him of the health benefits for baby and you?

chandellina Sun 01-Feb-09 15:55:54

Hi there, I haven't been in that situation, as my DH is very pro-BFing, but I think you definitely need to discuss him WHY you want to breastfeed, and the benefits to your child. Is he aware of how beneficial breastmilk actually is?

That discussion could also include ways he can get involved. (if he is keen to do night feeds, maybe you could express? I can only dream of a DH keen to do night feeds.)

The bottom line is that you need to be a united team, and he needs to get on side! And yes, he has to be prepared to hear you moaning about how hard it is, without sabotaging your best efforts.

As far as FF babies sleeping through the night sooner, i don't know if there is research on this but anecdotally it sadly seems to be very true ...

DorisIsAPinkDragon Sun 01-Feb-09 15:58:05

Be honest tell him that being supportive, is exactly that supporting you bf'd, have you discussed the reasons the bf'ing is now promoted by mw etc....? Becuase surely amongst all of that he must realise that there are benifits ovr and above formula.

Also discussing the difficulties that you may encounter and how you'd think about solving at this stage may be helpful, (I know for me middle of the night tears didn't help with constructive conversation). He may at least then feel needed. But one of his biggest helps can be dealing with the attention your twins are likely to need and taking them out at the weekend so you do get sometime to catch up on your sleep with your baby.

You may be surprised this time, I found dd2 fitted intop our routine as afamily better than I had anticipated.... and the sleeplessness was less of a shock to the system... God knows whether that will happen with no 3 tho' grin

Good luck!

hotCheeseBURNS Sun 01-Feb-09 15:59:09

BUT sleeping through doesn't have to be a big deal at this stage! It's stupidly easy to have baby in bed with you to feed in the night. You don't even have to get up!

HerBeatitudeLittleBella Sun 01-Feb-09 16:02:42

Get him to read some information about the benefits. Not just the nebulous, "breast is best" stuff that the NHS goes in for, but some more specific stuff. To do with cultural factors, why BF has been downgraded etc. Direct him to sites like Kellymom and make him read it!

Here's a really good, thought-provoking article which might get him ruminating. here

HerBeatitudeLittleBella Sun 01-Feb-09 16:04:56

Oh viz the sleeping issue, it's a complete myth. Lots of anecdotes, but figures don't bear them out. Just to add my worthless anecdote, DS was BF, slept through the night from 6 weeks, DD was FF, slept through the night from 9 weeks. No conclusions to be drawn from either of those events. grin

locketandabiro Sun 01-Feb-09 16:08:57

Don't try to persuade him it will be fun or practical (it won't be straight away, although it'll be more practical in the long run in many ways), try to persuade him that formula isn't good enough for his child [disclaimer: I'm not saying anything about anyone else's or formula in general, just thinking about what would motivate someone], so that he actively wants you to get bf working because it'll be better for the baby. It's just it sounds as though he's making his choice based on practicalities and wanting to be help only, which kind of implies that he must think there's not much else in it otherwise, that they're pretty much as good as each other in general. Show him how much more is in it, and he'll have is own independent motivation for getting it working, he won't just be going along with it to keep you happy.

Neeerly3 Sun 01-Feb-09 16:15:51

thanks all - hot cheese - I am not a fan of feeding baby in bed myself and he is 100% anti-cosleeping. When the twins were babies, and a little restless at night i used to bring one in with me and soothe it til it fell asleep then replace in cot, but he would still have nightmares about me falling asleep too and the worst happening.

He would bolt out of bed in the middle of the night and search the room....I would wake and ask what he was doing, he would reply "looking for the babies...." It would take me a good 10 mins to convince him they were fine, and asleep in the cot....he would then collapse in bed and be immediately asleep....but it's something that played on his mind for a LOOONG time.

So the plan is, to feed sat up in bed with me funky new support pillow, or even in the rocking chair in the baby's room - but never lying down. I think he has accepted I want to do this and will begrudgingly let me get on with it....but in a way I can see his point. When boys were small we did used to get time to ourselves, as the relatives could take them over night without the worry of me expressing enough to cover the time. He wants to make sure we still get that time off as a couple as it just about kept us sane in the earlydays.

But its such a short period of time really that this one will need feeding at night in the grand scheme of things, and I have it on good authority that my sister and I who were breast fed exclusively for nearly a year, both slept through (10pm til 7am) from 6 weeks.....who knows....

chandellina Sun 01-Feb-09 16:17:00

herbeatitude - i think you just have magic babies. My BF DS is still to sleep through even one night at 27 weeks ...

Jojay Sun 01-Feb-09 16:17:34

Could you agree to express once daily so your DH can give one feed in a bottle?

I express at about 9.30 pm and DH does the last feed while I go to bed.

It works brilliantly. DH and DS2 get some bonding time, I get an early night, and DS2 gets used to taking a bottle - something I was very grateful for when DS1 was hospitalised 2 wks ago and I had to stay overnight with him.

Neeerly3 Sun 01-Feb-09 16:21:28

good words locket, but our twins were FF and in his mind that was good enough for them so why not for next one, he also saw how people could help me out with the twins BECAUSE they were FF - he's seen very little evidence that BF is better, since he can only see downsides. He himself was FF as were his siblings and hence MIL is also of the mind "you don't want to BF, do you, REALLY??"

hotCheeseBURNS Sun 01-Feb-09 16:32:16

I didn't actively co-sleep, just tended to fall asleep while ds was feeding... The point is, you don't have to go all the way down to the kitchen to make a bottle, sterilise things etc.

AbricotsSecs Sun 01-Feb-09 16:38:37

Message withdrawn

Neeerly3 Sun 01-Feb-09 16:38:52

hotcheese, thats the plus point i trying to sell to him too - milk on tap at right temp, I think after a week or so of crying baby being muted almost immediately, rather than half an hour of screaming while making up bottles in accordance to new rules (not shown him those yet, that could be a winner!), he will be transformed!

AbricotsSecs Sun 01-Feb-09 16:42:18

Message withdrawn

Neeerly3 Sun 01-Feb-09 16:43:25

hey hoochie! <waves> he doesn't think in health terms as he doesn't look outside the box...it worked for the twins and did them no harm so why can't the new baby be treated in the same way. He's thinking in terms of it suiting our lifestyle - like I mentioned before, we had lots of help BECAUSE they were Bottle fed - help we couldn't have had had they been breast fed. I suffered with PND inspite of all this help - so he's worried if I don't get the sleep and the time off I need, I will suffer again, and it's not a place he wants to be in again.

Bless him, his hearts in the right place and he's saying all this for very positive reasons hence why I am struggling to come up with something other than health of the baby to support my views as his argument will always be "but the boys are ok...."

hotCheeseBURNS Sun 01-Feb-09 16:53:37

Do you think you will have the support of your family and friends in breastfeeding?

Neeerly3 Sun 01-Feb-09 16:57:05

my mum yes, dad yes, MIL no and friends no, well most of them. Mum and dad aren't local but could call for support if needed. Friends who are local and who I turn to for most things all bottle fed their kids and rave about it being the best choice for them. I appreciate that, it was the best choice for me with the boys, but I want to give this a go and also be sure that I won't get "give him/her a bottle" the first time I say I'm tired or I want a night out, or he/she isn't sleeping yet.

I'll just turn to MN i think!

BouncingTurtle Sun 01-Feb-09 16:58:45

Tell him that a tub of formula costs roughly the same as 2 pts of beer grin
And that if you manage to bf for a year you'll have saved about £450 in not buying formula/bottle etc.
He can support you in other ways, nappy changes, winding after feeding (my DH was an expert at this!) and taking baby off for a walk while you catch up on sleep.
Oh if he does take baby out for a walk, he will be mugged by women who will want to coo over the baby. Most importantly he will be needed to keep your twins occupied when you are feeding baby!

hunkermunker Sun 01-Feb-09 17:21:15

It's about so much more than food. Have a look here for something for you to read and here for something for your husband and others supporting you to read

Good luck.

hotCheeseBURNS Sun 01-Feb-09 17:25:41

For me, breastfeeding was incredibly painful for some time and I know I wouldn't have kept it up past that if I hadn't had so much support (bordering on pressure to do so!). Make sure you join breastfeeding groups etc.

msdemented Sun 01-Feb-09 17:56:47

I think you need to tell him that you are prioritising your health and your baby's. I think he will be quite shocked when he sees the wealth of medical evidence for bf. I wonder if he'd be persuaded by the fact that in the UK 95% of women doctors choose to bf their own children!

You could print this article off and read it out to him. It's fully referenced and comes from a reputable source:

Breastfeeding: Overcoming The Barriers

Caroline Deacon, NCT Breastfeeding Counsellor

Almost all women are physically able to breastfeed, and in countries such as Norway where few barriers to breastfeeding exist, rates are over 95%. In Britain, less than two thirds of women choose to give their babies any breastmilk at all. Although this figure is higher than it was thirty years ago, it still implies that the “breast is best” message is not being absorbed by a significant number of women, in particular, those whose babies need breastfeeding most; the poorer sections of society. While 90% of women in social class I breastfeed, only 50% in social class V, 47% of single mothers and 44% of teenage mothers, breastfeed.1

As research shows that formula fed babies have significantly poorer health outcomes, these low breastfeeding rates for disadvantaged socio-economic groups is cause for concern. The Department of Health has calculated that, if all women breastfed their babies, the NHS would save, per annum:

* £35m treating babies with gastro-enteritis
* 400 women’s lives from dying of breast cancer
* 500 pre-term babies from developing necrotizing enterocolitis, 100 of whom die.2

The real eye-opener for health workers is what happens post-natally. After six weeks breastfeeding rates have dropped to 40%, and 90% of those who stop say they wanted to breastfeed for longer. Once again, drop off rates are higher for disadvantaged groups; by four months only 13% of social class V babies receive any breastmilk at all. 3

It is therefore obvious that we as health workers have two problems to tackle. Firstly, significant numbers of women, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, are opting out of breastfeeding altogether. Secondly, those who do start are finding barriers to continuing for as long as they and their babies want to.

Why is breast best?
Bottle fed babies are:

* five times more likely to be admitted to hospital with diarrhoea
* twice as likely to be hospitalised with respiratory disease
* twice as likely to suffer from otitis media.
* five times more likely to develop a urinary tract infection
* twice as likely to develop atopic eczema or wheeze.
* premature babies fed formula are twenty times more likely to get necrotizing enterocolitis.

In addition, some research has suggested that bottle fed babies are at risk of:

* higher blood pressure
* insulin dependant diabetes mellitus
* childhood lymphomas
* inflammatory bowel disease
* multiple sclerosis
* dental occlusion
* coronary heart disease.

Mothers who do not breastfeed are at increased risk of:

* ovarian cancer
* hip fractures
* pre-menopausal breast cancer 4

Tackling uptake ante-natally.

It is tempting to think that all we need to do is to extol the health benefits of breastfeeding to disadvantaged mothers. However, other health education campaigns, around smoking for instance, typically haven’t been acted upon by this group, and “nagging” or “pressure” can have the opposite effect to that intended. Instead, we need to tackle known barriers to breastfeeding.

Many factors influence the decision to breastfeed; the most significant of which is partner’s attitude. If fathers strongly approve, women are 33 times more likely to breastfeed. 5 A way to improve uptake rates, therefore, might be through involving partners ante-natally, making sure partners attend check-ups where feeding is to be discussed. Apart from research-based facts about the effects of formula, the financial costs, time and effort involved in bottle feeding, can be highlighted.

A factor to recognise is that breastfeeding has personal and cultural significance. Women’s breasts are not seen as primarily for feeding babies in our society. As demand feeding will inevitably mean feeding in front of other people, both in and outside the home, the decision to breastfeed will invariably be tied up with feelings about sexuality. When discussing breastfeeding with patients ante-natally, it is important to bear this in mind, and women find it useful to be able to discuss the practicalities of feeding in public, for instance.

Peer group discussions have also been found to be effective in increasing both initiation and duration rates, and intuition tells us that peer pressure is going to have more effect on younger and less well educated women. Ante-natal classes which build confidence and knowledge have also been found to be effective. Rather than lecuting about benefits of breastfeeding, ante-natal classes could focus more on encouraging participants to engage in frank discussion of issues, as well as using active learning methods for teaching specific skills.

However, if it is clear that a woman intends to bottle feed, after exploring any social pressures and ensuring that she has made a fully informed choice by being aware of health risks of bottle feeding, all health professionals should support her non-judgementally in her decision.

Why do women stop?

The commonest reasons women state for having stopped breastfeeding prematurely are “insufficient milk” or “my milk dried up”. “Excess tiredness” has also been quoted. Although supply can be undermined by inappropriate use of formula, on the whole women’s milk does not “dry up”, and remarks such as these imply lack of confidence and support as well as perhaps lack of knowledge about how breastfeeding works.

After the birth, mother and father are both present and receptive to ideas and practical help. Now is a brilliant time for midwives to spend on one-to-one education, explaining how to position and attach the baby to the breast in such a way that the mother can do this for herself in future. The mechanics of breastmilk production - supply and demand - can be explained, and with father there to hear these messages, he is less likely to undermine breastfeeding later by suggesting using a bottle when difficulties are encountered.

A final word on mixed messages. Gifts from a commercial company such as pens or diaries, free equipment or educational resources can seem harmless to the over-stretched and underpaid health worker. However, such gifts publicise the company name, and this influences your patients. After the Milupa Hearing Centre in Hillingdon was opened, quantities of Milupa formula sold in the area increased by nearly six times. Mothers who are given non-commercial discharge packs breastfeed exclusively for more than two weeks longer than those given commercial packs and are more likely to be breastfeeding at four months postpartum. 6 So don’t undermine your good work - remember there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Study hours: Prep made simple

Key reading

* Evidence for the ten steps to successful breastfeeding(1998) WHO Geneva.
* Dora Henschel with Sally Inch (1996) Breastfeeding A Guide for Midwives Great Britain: Books for Midwives Press.
* Royal College of Midwives (1991) Successful Breastfeeding London : Churchill Livingstone.

References

* Foster, K., Lader, D., Cheesbrough, S. (1997) Infant Feeding ONS. London: The Stationery Office.
* Wise, P. (1998) The Hidden Persuaders New Generation; Vol. 17, No. 3.
* Department of Health, National Breastfeeding Working Group. (1995) Breastfeeding: Good practice guide to the NHS. London : Department of Health.
* Littman, H., Medendorp, SV., Goldfarb, J. (1994) The decision to breastfeed: the importance of fathers’ approval. Clin Pediatr, 33, no. 4, pp 214-219.
* Bar-Yam NB., Darby L., (1997)Fathers and Breastfeeding: A Review of the Literature. J Hum Lact. 13(1), 45-50.
* Informed Choice Leaflet: Breastfeeding or Bottle feeding - Helping women to choose. MIDIRS and The NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination.

© Caroline Deacon
article first appeared in Nursing times Aug 2000
1 Foster, K., Lader, D., Cheesbrough, S. (1997) Infant Feeding ONS. London: The Stationery Office.

2 Department of Health, National Breastfeeding Working Group. (1995) Breastfeeding: Good practice guide to the NHS. London : Department of Health.

3 Foster et al op cit

4 Informed Choice Leaflet: Breastfeeding or Bottle feeding - Helping women to choose. MIDIRS and The NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination.

5 Littman, H., Medendorp, SV., Goldfarb, J. (1994) The decision to breastfeed: the importance of fathers’ approval. Clin Pediatr, 33, no. 4, pp 214-219.
Bar-Yam NB., Darby L., (1997)Fathers and Breastfeeding: A Review of the Literature. J Hum Lact. 13(1), 45-50.

6 Wise, P. (1998) The Hidden Persuaders New Generation; Vol. 17, No. 3.

laumiere Sun 01-Feb-09 18:57:29

Hi Neerly, I can why your DH has concerns and they are similar to mine, I had a prem baby too which I FFed and PND. I'm currently 35w with DS2 and want to BF this time and he has much the same concerns as your DH.

To get him on board I did the following:
1. Told him we were having the baby's cot in our room, on my side of the bed with the rail down (we can't co-sleep as DH smokes)

2. Agreed to express one feed a day after BF is established for him to bond with DS2, as it was a key part of his bonding exp with DS1

3. Set up regular appointments with the Women's Health counsellor attached to my hospital, so if PND hits I've got a pre-existing support network.

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