Whether your partner is fast asleep while you nurse or whether they just say “All yours” when baby is hungry, at one time or another all breastfeeding moms wish that men could breastfeed….even if just for a DAY!
The promise of a smart breast pump with water-based suction cups grabbed the attention of many working women in 2016. The company hit the market with a successful crowdfunding campaign and a viral video titled “If Men Breastfed.” The video remains an internet hit even though the company received an onslaught of customer complaints and disappeared in 2018 without resolving customer issues or shipping many purchases.
The Naya video features a male dream world where breast pumps double as weightlifting machines or drain both breasts in seconds. The work lactation room turns into the ultimate man’s den complete with a gambling table and a scoreboard to glorify the man able to produce the most milk. It comes to a quite depressing end with a woman sitting in a supply closet pumping away when a male coworker bursts through the door.
While the video is entertaining, it got us thinking about what would really happen if men could breastfeed. Going beyond the man-cave lactation room in the office, there are many reasons we wish this dream could become reality. Let’s take a fun peek into a world where men can breastfeed.
Ten Things That Happen if a Man Could Breastfeed:
1. The “mantrum” is now a worldwide phenomenon.
Some women are unlucky enough to witness the tantrum of a man who just can’t get things to go his way. It’s an unpleasant sight that can rival the most frustrated three-year-old. If there’s anything that can take the most calm, cool and collected man to that emotional storm, it’s months or years of sleep deprivation, cracked nipples and merciless pumping. YIKES! No one wants to see that!
2. “I can’t feed the baby” is no longer an excuse.
If you’ve ever heard this excuse from your husband wherever the baby fusses…you might want him to learn to breastfeed! Yep…you’ve had your share of late-night feedings. Perhaps you’ve suffered one too many rounds of depression caused by sleep deprivation. Men often get the pleasure of sleeping through the night when their wives breastfeed exclusively, but the free ride ends when their breasts are the ones filled with milk.
3. The nipple-as-squirt gun game?
If your husband wants to play with your nipples just as much as your baby, you’re not alone. New daddies seem to have a fascination for the squirting power of a milk-filled breast. They just don’t get the annoyance of a grown man asking how far you can squirt or reaching for your breasts when you’re trying to feed the baby.
If men were the proud owners of those squirt guns, they would have a newfound appreciation for the value of the milk. Wasting milk suddenly becomes less entertaining when you’re the one who has to produce and deliver that milk.
On the other hand, they might just make it an Olympic sport.
4. There’s now more milk than beer at the sports bar.
When men slide into the sports bar to watch a game, their breasts may hit the bar before their guts. Breast pumps may get more action than beer bottles. For some men, football will never be the same because they can no longer knock back a few cold ones while cheering on their team. You know, they have a baby to feed when they get home.
5. Attempts at speed pumping leave many men writhing in pain.
Men just can’t help but be competitive. One theme running through the Naya breastfeeding video was speed pumping. Some men spend a significant amount of time trying to speed up what they consider meaningless but necessary tasks, and breastfeeding would likely fall into that category. While women accept that they need to set aside time to breastfeed, men would likely spend their feeding hours brainstorming ways to get that job done faster.
This would like lead to more blisters, chaffing, dry skin and breaks in the skin. Nipple cream would sell off the shelves. Far too many women would see their husbands break into ugly crying sessions. In the end, we just might end up with a breast pump that actually works at the speed of light without creating such agony. Unfortunately, many men would suffer in the discovery and testing process.
6. Assuming mom will get the crying baby is no longer an option.
For many men in our world today, a crying baby is the signal for mom to whip out the breast. That often allows men to continue whatever their doing while the woman must stop everything and take care of the baby’s needs.
When men are capable of breastfeeding, responsibility for those cries shifts to them. Whether they’re fixing the lawnmower, on their way out the door for a run, or late for tee time at the golf course, they have to stop everything and fill up that hungry belly.
7. Breastfeeding while mowing the lawn is now commonplace.
With a hands-free breast pump strapped tight to his chest and a suckling baby tucked into a front-load carrier, a man can now get the lawn cut while satisfying the baby. Growing babies are getting more natural sunlight than ever, and men are in much better shape. They also spend more time with heating pads on their backs.
8. Men’s magazines print more images of male breasts than female.
Men’s magazines suddenly feature ads with shirtless models relaxing on the couch with the latest breast pump propped nearby. Articles about chasing women and getting laid are now replaced by articles with breastfeeding tips. Muscle building guides are replaced by breastfeeding troubleshooting guides. There are pictures of loving fathers nursing their babies in place of half-naked women selling shaving cream and deodorant.
9. It would be super entertaining to watch men shop for nursing bras.
Can you imagine a guy shopping for a nursing bra? Videos of THAT would go viral EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
10. Babies are more emotionally connected to their fathers than ever before.
In all seriousness….this is perhaps the one biggest reason that we truly wish men could breastfeed. There’s something amazing about breastfeeding in the wee hours of the morning while the rest of the world sleeps. Any moment that you get to look into your baby’s eyes and know that you’re the center of their world is a rewarding moment. Mothers receive a lot of deep bonding time over the breast, and it would benefit fathers to share in that pleasure.
Breastfeeding strengthens the attachment between parent and child. The baby learns that he can trust the breastfeeding parent and grows to appreciate the role of that parent in their lives. They depend on their breastfeeding mother for their survival. The deep sense of responsibility and devotion is strong for the mother, stimulating the protective behaviors that most mothers develop for their children.
Research has even proven that breastfeeding releases hormones in a woman’s body that foster motherly behaviors and initiate the bonding process. Perhaps we would have fewer absentee fathers and a greater sense of fatherly devotion to the child if men were the recipients of those hormones and the breastfeeding experience.
The Potential Benefits of a Male-Breastfeeding World?
The humorous Naya viral video had a serious message hidden beneath the humor. The video portrayed a world where breastfeeding was an acceptable public activity. It opens with a man interrupting a work meeting with two leaky breasts, and his boss responds with kindness and acceptance. The man is quickly shown to the lactation lounge, where breastfeeding fathers bond more with one another than with their babies. Their breast pumps are designed for performance and friendly competition, complementing the father’s goals more than the baby’s needs.
That world could never exist without a substantial increase in financial investment for breast pump technology. Innovative minds would have to put significant effort into designing pumps, bottles and other resources that make breastfeeding more rewarding and fun. That is what Naya Health attempted to do with their smart pump, but it failed at least partially due to a lack of investors willing to fund a breast pump company.
The world featured in the Naya video would also require a dramatic shift in cultural standards. The world would have to view breastfeeding as a natural bodily function that is required for all parents. Business owners and managers would have to accept it as a part of life rather than considering it a disruption to the workplace. Comfortable lactation rooms would have to become a necessity for every office rather than a legal requirement that drains resources.
Breastfeeding in public is no big deal in this new world. Men are celebrated for their ability to create milk rather than criticized for showing an inch of their breast in public. Breasts are considered functional tools rather than sexual objects. Sadly, that comes with a focus on the needs of the man, which is in stark contrast to the focus of most women: the baby.
While the Naya Health video went viral for its humor and creativity, there’s a troubling message under the surface. The world portrayed will likely never become reality as long as women are the only ones capable of breastfeeding. A dramatic shift in our cultural conscious is needed to make breastfeeding as acceptable and enjoyable as it’s portrayed in that video. Let’s just keep the focus on the baby. May we never lose the deep bonding that happens between parent and child during the breastfeeding process!
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