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Rabbi Shmuley Boteach on Breastfeeding

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Saturday, June 24, 2006


"Should Mothers Breastfeed if it Disrupts the Marriage?"

There are two effects of breast-feeding that we often do not focus on. One is the de-eroticization of a woman’s body, as in her husbands eyes one of the most attractive parts of her body becomes, in effect, a cafeteria, and second it often means that a husband and wife can’t even sleep in the bed because the baby is either in the bed or the baby cries and takes all the mother’s attention.

So why we must always glorify the benefits of breast-feeding, if it begins to disrupt the marriage itself we have to begin to question if the family is better off with a baby on the bottle because no matter what benefits there are to a baby with breast-feeding, these would all be severely undermined if the parents marriage itself began to crumble.


Now...while I understand that ultimately, saving the marriage needs to take precedence over breastfeeding until a child self-weans...but let's think about this a little more and let's think about things that he COULD have said.

1.) He could have offered up suggestions on how a husband might help ease the "burden" of nursing for a mom so that she has a bit more time and energy. Things like dad getting baby and bringing baby to mom to nurse. Things like dad helping with the laundry, dishes, or whatever else mom might still be trying to handle on top of caring for a baby.

2.) He could have offered up suggestions on how a wife might work to share her needs with her husband and to make a true effort to make time for him. He could have suggested that the wife make sure she gets a scheduled "date" with her husband, even if it just means relaxing together on the couch.

3.) He could have turned to the Old Testament and the vast POSITIVE references of nursing that take place there. He could have noted that both Samuel and Moses were breastfed for YEARS, not months. He could have pointed out the beauty of God's design when it comes to providing food for a child.

4.) He could have suggested marriage counseling and pre-child counseling to help couples prepare for the life-altering reality that is parenthood.

But no... "if it's an inconvience, switch to bottle."

Yeah. That's just GREAT advice... /sarcasm


  1. Anonymous the SmockLady | 1:02 PM |  

    Oh, I get it. The Western Culture of the boobs being created for THE MAN is the correct view. Now I understand. god made a mistake and never intended for me to use these for the nurturing and upbringing of my children. I've always wondered why I had them. I'm glad I understand. I guess now that number six is on the way I can't use them the way I thought they were supposed to be used. Goodness, it's a good thing I found out now before I screwed up another one of my children with really healthy breastmilk. (end sarcasm) Who is this idiot? Really. Who is he? If the man of the house is going to be so selfish as not to share then what's he doing being a father anyway. Sorry for that, but when a couple decides to bring a baby into the world they need to get a grip on reality before hand. I know not all couples plan their children, but that child should become the priority at times. And, yes, there are so many other things he could have pointed out other than, "If daddy wants booby, baby can get his elsewhere." I have no respect for this man. I don't think of myself as liberal or as a feminist, but that is just chauvanistic. (sp)

  2. Blogger Jennifer | 2:18 PM |  

    And this is where I'm reminded of why more men need to wear these shirts. ;)

    (Bear with me guys...I haven't promoted the shirts in a long, long time...)


    The "I Take Turns Shirt"

    The "I Play With My Baby's Food Shirt"

    And of course all the other "pro-breastfeeding shirts for men"

  3. Anonymous Sheridan | 3:28 PM |  

    Did God create my breasts to feed a baby or to turn my husband on? I think to feed my baby, I asked my husband and he said to turn him on. But frankly the beauty of it is they can do both!
    I personally never liked my breasts until I breastfed my baby, then I really got it, THIS is what they are really for, everything else is just bonus.

  4. Blogger Jennifer | 7:58 PM |  

    "Did God create my breasts to feed a baby or to turn my husband on? "

    Biblically speaking? Both.

    The Old Testament (which obviously is read by both Christians and Jews) makes it pretty clear that nursing is an act of both nourishment and love between a mother and a child. The book Song of Solomon in the OT makes it pretty clear that breasts are also designed to keep hubbies happy. ;)

    No reason they can't serve double duty.

  5. Anonymous Michele | 11:52 AM |  

    A husband who is jealous of his breastfeeding child? Sounds like there's an underlying problem in the relationship...I'd say that my husband loves my breasts even more now that he knows they're nourishing our son. And when the little guy is in bed with us, Daddy cuddles up with him as much as I do.

    I agree that weaning to a bottle is a poor response and likely to be of benefit to one one - othen than maybe a formula manufacturer...and I agree that if we weren't meant to breastfeed our babies, God wouldn't have given us the ability to do so!

  6. Blogger Judy | 12:45 PM |  

    I am naive after all never having breastfed, but doesn't breastfeeding usually only last a year or so with each child? After that the husband can regain ownership of his wife's body.

    What kind of decent father would say, "Screw our little baby. I mean I realize the health benefits, but I need some action."

    I think the problem in a marriage would be a selfish man or perhaps a woman who neglects her husband, but not breastfeeding. Those things would continue after the formula switch.

  7. Blogger Jennifer | 1:30 PM |  

    "...but doesn't breastfeeding usually only last a year or so with each child?"

    Depends on the mom and child. AAP recommendations are to breastfeed for AT LEAST a year. Many moms choose to wean at that point, but those who believe in self-led weaning often nurse until 2, 3, even 4 years. Though obviously a 2 or 3 year old isn't going to nurse as often as a six month old.

    "After that the husband can regain ownership of his wife's body."

    Ownership? Umm...how about "priority access" :-P

  8. Anonymous janie | 2:34 PM |  

    The rabbi seems to think that ending breastfeeding will stop the baby from crying and demanding attention from mother (and father?). He must not have children. Does he think that mom will spend less time on the baby when she has to trot off to the kitchen to mix and warm formula? And that the baby will patiently wait, not crying, while she does so?

  9. Anonymous Anonymous | 8:00 PM |  

    I'd definitely say yes. Our culture shapes the way the men of today think and act. It a shame that breastfeeding, a child's birth right be sacrifice for selfishness. When a child is born the parents must realize that it is more about what is best for baby than for their personal pleasure. However, godly women must pray and intercede on behalf of dad and baby that in the end all would have an understanding of how important it is to do it God's way.

  10. Blogger Andrea | 5:40 PM |  

    I think you've totally missed the point; the mom has allowed her relationship with her son take on a totally all-encompassing role, and to replace the intamcy she had with her husband.

    I've two kids, with a third on the way, and am lucky to have a husband who knows how to share. We've co-slept, and I nursed on demand, so how eay was it to roll over, pop a boob in, and not worry about warming up a bottle. But I also have different relationships with my kids than with my husband, and we take the time to make time for ourselves.

    I agree that Rabbi Boteach shouldn't have made a big deal about the mother nursing an 11-month-old --the Talmud states that mothers should nurse until around 3 years, if possible -- what we really should be talking about is how will this mom/son relationship develop, and what will dad's role be, if any, as the son grows. More than anything else, I kinda feel badly for the kid, and how he got stuck in all of this.

  11. Anonymous Anonymous | 8:24 AM |  

    So lets focus on the poor husband who has to see one of his favorite toys turned into "a cafeteria". Gee isn't that tragic. :-/ How mature. Did she marry a selfish little boy? So that's a good reason to go to a less-healthy and less natural method of feeding a baby, for the sake of and immature Dad's title to the toybox? How tragic.

  12. Anonymous Anonymous | 5:34 AM |  

    lol i agree with the last comment,..if your hubby/partner is that immature and shallow, he's not worth it anyway! my hubby and many of my friends' hubbies would actually be upset if i/we chose bottle feeding, because he/they CARE/S about the well being of his/our family. yes your relationhip changes, but that would happen anyway with or without breastfeeding.

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