I heard of a very sad case a few months ago. A breastfeeding Mum was in the final throws of divorce proceedings and the Judge ruled in favour of dual custody. When she asked how she would breastfeed her child on the nights their baby would be with his Father, the Judge just said, “you can express milk or give the baby formula on those nights”.
As a nursing Mother myself, I would have been devastated with that ruling. I felt outraged thinking of the Mum and the baby in this situation.
Because I believe breastfeeding is not just about mother’s milk, it’s also a very special way to give comfort and nurturing. It helps Mum and baby form a deep, precious, loving bond that lasts a lifetime. And, I would imagine, with all the emotions running riot in that family, parents most likely angry and fighting, most certainly grieving the end of the marriage, this would be a time when a baby needed that comfort and nurturing more than ever.
But then I suppose I am in a very small minority of Mums who have been afforded the opportunity to breastfeed for as long as my child likes. My husband gave me this very rare gift, and I am eternally grateful. Nursing my son has provided many of the most beautiful moments of my life. A feeling comes over me when I’m nursing that’s difficult to describe, a feeling of such contentment and peace, a feeling of such unconditional love for my son, my husband, the world.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) both recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months and to continue breastfeeding for at least a year. Exclusive breastfeeding in the purest sense means offering no milk alternatives, no water, no solids, no pacifiers – nothing other than breast milk for the first 6 months of life.
I followed their advice and decided to do my best to nurse young Benjamin until he weans naturally. I’ve been nursing him for over 3 years and in that time, my husband has shouldered the entire responsibility of working to provide for all our family’s financial needs.
These 3 years have not been the easiest for my hubby. He’s also been saving up to build an extra room and bathroom onto our house. He’s had some unexpected expenses to take care of as well, like when our cat got sick and had to stay at the Vet for 3 days, which set us back a small fortune, only to have to put her down in the end. 🙁
My wonderful hubby has also been covering the expenses of my little online “hobby” for the last year (Happy Human Pacifier and Inspiring Mompreneurs). We call it a hobby because it can hardly be called a business… yet. 😉 Money is just starting to trickle in now. In January I started earning money on fiverr. To date, I’ve earned $60. Expenses so far – around $ 750. Hmm, still a way to go before I start making any worthwhile contribution to the family coffers.
So yes, I think my husband may have contemplated divorce a few times in these last 3 years – because he’s the one who’s been doing all the giving. I’m sure he’s been lonely in the marriage too. But no, I certainly have not. Divorce, at this very vulnerable time, for both baby and me, is unfathomable. Both physically and emotionally, we both need the stability that my husband provides. Not to mention the fact that my hubby’s a fantastic, involved, very playful Dad. With a sense of humour second to none. I know very well I’m sitting in the pound seat.
Which is why I felt so desperately sorry when reading that article about the nursing Mum who had to be separated from her child at a time when they most needed to stand united as a family unit. I believe it’s worth doing everything in our power to work our differences out and stay married during the crucial formative years of a child’s life – and beyond, of course.
I also completely understand that not everyone feels that way and there are certain cases when Divorce is imperative. I’ve stated exactly when I would NOT stay married in my article on Inspiring Mompreneurs, Should You Stay Married for the Kids?
If you’re contemplating divorce and still breastfeeding, my advice would be to work it out, if you possibly can. For you, your hubby. and for your little one.
Cast your mind back to happier times and think of all the things you loved about your husband when you first met him. Bury the hatchet, focus on the positive and practice gratitude.
Emotions run high after pregnancy and birth. Life is completely different to life as you knew it pre-baby…
- You and your husband may be mourning the loss of your previous life as a couple and taking it out on each other.
- It takes some time to adjust to life with a newborn and life with a toddler brings its own challenges.
- It takes time to work out your differences in parenting styles and find an approach that works for your family.
- You may feel somedays like you’re in the middle of a war zone: a toddler shouting their demands at you all day and your husband shouting his demands at you when he comes home from work.
- You might be exhausted and not able to think clearly.
- You might be juggling a job and home life and stressing about childcare options.
- If you are a stay at home Mum you might feel trapped at home and miss the freedom of being out working.
- You might be going stir crazy with no creative outlet.
- You might find the housework, grocery shopping and cooking overwhelming, on top of caring for baby.
Take a deep breath. These feelings will pass. This phase will not last forever. You’ll work all these things out in time.
Consider that none of these challenges will necessarily disappear if you get divorced. Find a good family or couple counsellor to help you work through your issues.
If you suspect you may be experiencing post-natal depression, it’s also a good idea to seek help from a professional.
These days, with divorce being so prevalent, there are some unique, cost effective ways to help Mums out when the unfortunate happens. For example, take a look at Texas Two Step Divorce.
Whatever you decide, I wish you and your precious child the very best. I’d love to hear your comments below.
Here are the 3 Top Selling Books on Divorce on Amazon USA: