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Get involved in your baby’s breastfeeding

By Vision Reporter

Added 31st July 2009 03:00 AM

IN marking August as a breastfeeding month, Total Man’s Alex Balimwikungu writes, encouraging men to give a hand to their breastfeeding partners.

IN marking August as a breastfeeding month, Total Man’s Alex Balimwikungu writes, encouraging men to give a hand to their breastfeeding partners.

IN marking August as a breastfeeding month, Total Man’s Alex Balimwikungu writes, encouraging men to give a hand to their breastfeeding partners.

Picture this. You find yourself seated close to this strikingly beautiful lady in a taxi. The man in you manages to steal cursory glances at her, but your eyes settle for one spot on her body. Her breasts, which are hidden and yet not hidden. Blossoming bosoms, well packaged in cleavage enhancing tops are a well documented source of sexual fantasy.

You are half way your attacking modus operandi when a shrieking child wakes you out of your fantasy. The child is passed on from the next seat and before you know it, your object of affection pulls out her naked unadorned breasts and openly breast feeds, oblivious of her surroundings.

Many men would cringe at such a sight; some actually look at the innocent child as a sworn enemy. You have heard some men confess that one of the fastest ways to lose a mushrooming erection is the sight of a breast feeding mother.
What if your own wife uncovered her breast in public? With the eternity of public exposure, wouldn’t you feel like being swallowed by the ground?

Even for the happily married men, it is all not rosy when breast feeding comes into the picture. We have known some men to refer to their own children as Omwana wo (your child) in relation to the woman, especially when crying sets in.

Others are known to sleep in separate bedrooms until the children have been weaned. Whether it has something to do with men acting like babies who need to breastfeed too and therefore sulk when a breast is denied, or it is simply a way of creating more space, is up for debate.

Some women, however, claim they want to be left alone with their babies, as such there is severe absence of romance and sex. Can you blame men for acting aloof?
A naughty friend who once cozied up to a breastfeeding woman came back with a startling confession. “Have you ever pictured a small Chinese cup with four tea-spoonfulls of sugar? That is exactly how breast milk tastes...” “Urgghhhhh…, ” we spat, not wanting to know more.

Many men pretend they love the prospect of bottle feeding their first-born children or calmly hold onto them as the wife adjusts the breasts in public. When you look closely, you will realise that behind the pretentious demeanor is an inconvenienced soul who can’t wait for the experience to end.

Isn’t it high time such an attitude ended? Most men are the very epitome of pride when it comes to matters like breast feeding. But since pride has no calories, isn’t it high time we swallowed it and became supportive to our breastfeeding partners?

I know female breasts are for men as they are also for breastfeeding. Even with the influence of countless pairs of breasts we’ve seen in films and magazines, isn’t it high time we stopped looking at the breasts as fantasy toys? Female breasts have a purpose, and that purpose is the reason they exist.

It goes beyond nature for a man to dabble in breastfeeding. Infact, men should learn to treat breasts like legs, the neck, face and all other body parts – not like some objects that automatically ‘click’ men’s brains to the ‘turn on’ mode. This realisation, hard as it appears, will be our greatest contribution during the breast feeding week.
Why would a man who was peacefully walking alongside his wife decide to change format and move ahead of the wife when a milk patch appears on her crimson blouse?

I would cover the patch with my hand to save her the blushes and if the means permit, I would volunteer to buy a breast milk pump, find a secluded place and help her pump the milk out much to her comfort.

Catherine Ruhweza of the Mama Tendo Foundation reckons that real men should always find ways of bonding with the breast feeding infants through playing with them, changing diapers, bathing them, bottle feeding, while encouraging the mothers to breast feed.

Ruhweza advises that men should learn to see the breast as a source of nutrition not pleasure, since breastfeeding is more of a health issue than a cultural one.

“Dads need to be part of the experience. When men get involved with breastfeeding chores, it not only helps the infant, but also strengthens your wife’s attitude towards this natural method. Breastfeeding mums need encouragement to help them make that part of a baby’s life easy and enjoyable.

Infact, to promote breastfeeding activism, Ugandans, like Americans, should turn up in public, dressed in T-shirts emblazoned with witty lines like: I play with my Baby’s food or My Kid Sucks (no pun intended). The message will be driven home.

Get involved in your baby’s breastfeeding

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