Breastfeeding doesn’t kill marriages…

Immature douchebags do.

Rabbi Shmuley, host of TLC’s Shalom in the Home, wrote an article arguing that breastfeeding is destroying marriages by… wait for it…

the de-eroticization of a woman’s body, as her husband witnesses one of the most attractive parts of her body serving a utilitarian rather than romantic purpose.

And he suggests…

public breast-feeding is profoundly de-eroticizing, and I believe that wives should cover up, even when they nurse their babies in their husband’s presence.

He even throws in some wildly insane notions like…

I believe this same problem comes up when men witness childbirth up close. There are certain poses in which a husband should not see his wife….That is just too erotic a part of a wife’s anatomy for it to become a mere birth canal.

And says of a woman who he recently counseled on his show…

I told the mother that in being so devoted to her son, she had committed the cardinal sin of marriage, which is to put someone else before her spouse, even if that someone is your child. Furthermore, I said, her obsession had turned one of her most attractive body parts into a feeding station, an attractive cafeteria rather than a scintillating piece of flesh.

Who, according to him, had an “obsession with breast-feeding well into the child’s eleventh month.”

OH NO! Not ELEVEN WHOLE MONTHS of breastfeeding!

While he does try to back up his side by stating that he agrees that “breastfeeding is usually the best thing for the baby” but “the principal form of marital breakdown in our time is a loss of erotic desire between husband and wife, and if couples find that breast-feeding is adding to a sense of alienation, there is always the bottle,” all I can think is, if your husband is having a hard time getting it up because you’re breastfeeding, there is a lot more going on than the way you chose to feed your baby.

I’m not even making this a breastfeeding vs. formula feeding thing because if you told me your husband felt your formula feeding was getting in the way of your marriage and sex life, I’d call him an immature douchebag, too.

Here’s the thing about parenthood, you’re in it TOGETHER. Every single choice, action, chore, responsibility, no matter who carries it out, you are BOTH responsible. And I’m sorry, I get that we need to do what we can to work on our marriages, to ensure they last, to provide our children with stable families, but uhhh…. dude, your screaming infant is going to HAVE to become numero uno priority that first year of their life, and if the Mr. finds that that kills his libido, I suggest a reality check and a vasectomy.

Moving beyond the incredibly sexist tone of the entire article (I’ll leave the feminism talk up to Gina), the whole thing is so WHINEY. The men shouldn’t see their wives vaginas as “mere birth canals”?! No. How about you now see it as the tunnel of POWER and AWESOMENESS that just brought your first born into the world, buddy. If a man can’t handle seeing his child born or watching his wife nourish that child with an exposed breast, well, I say he’s probably got the maturity level of a 12 year old. And if the marriage is doomed because he’s somehow traumatized by these images, well, better to get out now before he starts flinging spit balls at you. Seriously, there are OTHER issues at play here.

Listen, I can understand a man’s hesitancy to make love to a woman who may or may not squirt milk in his face (although, I hear some men are turned on by this). I can even understand a woman being afraid something like that might happen. You know what the perfect solution is? Get yourself some sexy bras or lingerie and leave it on for once. Discretely slip some nursing pads in there. ROCK ‘EM WHILE YOU GOT ‘EM, GIRLS. Your breasts will never be as porn-star-worthy as they are when you are breastfeeding. (For those thinking skipping breastfeeding will save you from the fried-egg boobies of doom, think again. Studies show this is related to the number of pregnancies and not nursing.) So stuff those bad girls in some hot support garments and feel like Jenna Jameson for the night. What red-blooded male would not find that hot?

On a serious note, the support I received from my husband while breastfeeding was amazing and it really did bring us closer together. In fact, just yesterday morning he was talking to me about the challenges I might face trying to nurse this second one and how he can help me. I never got anything from him other than encouragement. Admittedly, nothing turns my husband on more than the sound of not spending money, so maybe that had something to do with it, too.

I know this article is complete bull shit. Most of you probably know it, too. It’s just really frustrating to know that a public religious figure would say such tarnishing things about breastfeeding and relationships that seem to be completely unfounded. He has no studies to back his side up. All he has is his ridiculous male ego. Now this article is floating around the internet, out there for any expectant mom to see. I shudder to think someone might actually take this seriously, might actually give their husband a pass for being an immature douchebag because a Rabbi said *she’s* the one with the problem.

I’m going to end by linking you to Melodie’s take on all this where you can read in the comments section how breastfeeding has or hasn’t affected other marriages.

And now that I’ve finally got that off my chest, maybe I’ll take a nap.

Kendall is 2 and I’m almost 12 weeks pregnant

50 Things to Do Before You Deliver: The First Time Moms Pregnancy Guide
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  1. Umm . . . who are the guys that feel this way?? Do they exist? I know that MY guy never had this problem. Frankly, I would not have complained if he wanted to leave me alone for a few months after shot a kid out of my “mere birth canal”. The problem here most often is that by the time he gets home from work for the day I am ready for some personal space and some quiet. Breastfeeding never had anything to do with it. If anything my husband appreciated seeing my boobs 12 times a day.

  2. My head has met my desk about 52 times since I came across this article last night. John asked me if I’d write about it, but all I can do is roll my eyes into the back of my head. Big. Fat. UGH!

  3. I’d say breastfeeding was at the bottom of the list of things that hampered our sex life with a new baby, if it would really even make the list. Negligible.

    I’d put sleep deprivation at the top. I’d rather have slept than do anything else, and sometimes sex made me think of another baby which led me back to thoughts of losing more sleep…

  4. I wouldn’t even know where to start blogging about this ridiculous article if I were you, Gina. What a crock.

    My husband loves that I breastfeed. And I believe breasts were meant to give nourishment long before they were sexualized by society.

  5. What a ridiculous person and how unfortunate that he’s in a position of “influence.”

    As for your comments…I totally agree, AND so does my husband.

    Thank God, for the “real men/fathers/husbands” out there.

  6. I really really hope that mothers out there considering breastfeeding read the original piece and see how absurd this thinking is. It’s offending and wrong on SO many levels.

  7. Wow. What a complete idiot. While I have hyperlactation and even with a sexy bra I would not at all feel like Jenna Jamieson as I leak milk at all times this is not hampering my marriage at all. My husband is incredibly supportve of me breastfeeding out children and was there with me for all 3 of our births. We even looked at the placenta together. Eww but we did it and in no way did it make him think I was gross. Just like breastfeeding did not make him think I was a cow. Duh!

    Great post!

    • Thanks! I hear you on the hyperlactation front. I referred to myself as a jersey cow for quite some time. Had to use several breas tpads a day well into my son’s 9th month.

  8. My husband was totally “jealous” (in a funny way) of my baby’s ability to have the boo bees anytime she wanted, and in fact in later months, a time or two he pretended to nurse beside her, making her laugh. (you know, nom nom nom noises-I was totally covered). If anything, he appreciated all the peeks he got. I wore a bra during ‘action’ times and never had an issue.

  9. I’m pretty sure my very squeamish husband would have been up for sex immediately following the delivery of our daughter, despite the fact that he had just witnessed all kinds of atrocities and a baby human exiting my body. I breastfed my daughter for 13 months, during which time my breasts never ceased to be attractive and enticing to him, even when they were hooked up to my pump. Maybe it’s because he’s a grown, secure, and mature man? Breastfeeding doesn’t ruin marriages, lack of communication does. Maybe breastfeeding isn’t the issue that the Rabbi is talking about, but that one partner is feeling neglected and misdirecting those feelings toward an act that admittedly takes a lot of the new mom’s time and attention?

  10. Wow, I hadn’t read this article before you linked to it, what a crock. If your husband is going to be turned off enough by you breastfeeding that it affects your marriage, then he perhaps was not the best choice of mate to begin with. I know plenty of women who breastfed, for one year or LONGER, and their marriages are peachy keen.

  11. I read the original article to my husband, and he proclaimed it “the dumbest thing ever written”. But maybe that’s because he thinks it’s amazing that I grew and birthed our son. Or because he thinks it’s beautiful and natural that I’m sustaining our child’s life with my body. Or because he understands that a woman (and her body) has multiple roles–wife and mother being two possibilities–and one does not negate the other.
    But maybe that’s just him.

  12. Wow…what a douche. I’m willing to bet anything that HE’S the one that has the issues with his own wife and is completely projecting.. though I’m not so sure that there isn’t any truth to some men being a little traumatized (I think Jeff probably was as he is a bit squeamish about such things) but the point is you don’t INDULGE that stupidity, you grow up and get over it!!!

    • And I understand if a man is squeemish about the whole blood, bodily fluids side of birth. I get that. But like you said, get over it, put it behind you, see your wife for the amazing mother she is.

  13. I wrote a comment to the Rabbi and I got his group message response today as well and I was rolling my eyes the whole time.

    My husband was totally cool about having to sleep on the pull out sofa because our tiny boy was in our bed nursing all night long. It was just a PHASE of our life.

    We did have less sex because we were both so tired from being up and down all night long and all day long. It wasn’t the breastfeeding that got in the way, it was the lack of REM sleep that being new parents brings.

  14. I’m pretty sure my husband was shellshocked, and I mean actual, diagnosable PSTD after watching the birth of my daughter, which he described as “brutal.”

    He sees me breastfeed ALL the time, and our daughter sleeps in our bed several hours of every night.

    None of this has ever, even once, affected his desire for me, because he’s an intelligent, adult man who is aroused by the many facets of who I am, which include the motherly ones. And being a grown up, he’s really good at sharing, and he knows there’s plenty of my boobies to go around.

    This Shmuley guy is, to sum it up, an ass.

  15. Uh Oh. We’re almost at 8 months of breastfeeding. We need counseling from Rabbi Shmuley. I must be obsessed. And something must be seriously wrong with my husband because he thanks me for breastfeeding. He also still finds me attractive despite having seen me give birth to our son. Our marriage probably needs help.

  16. I am cracking up. I can’t wait to show this to my husband. I just weened my son at 2 1/2 years and only really because my milk dried up due to being pregnant with number two. My husband is my closest friend and greatest supporter. I don’t hide anything from him and certainty not the amazing things my body has done for our son. He wouldn’t want me to! And it has not stopped him from copping a feel!

    Obviously, kids are going to get in the way of sex whether you nurse them or not. I had my son to give him the best possible everything and yes, I put him before my husband. I expect my husband to do the same for our son until such a time as our boy no longer needs that much of a commitment from us. We’re a team raising our son together. We understand the sacrifices we each put in and understand they are temporary. He won’t be crawling into mommy and daddy’s bed (forcing us apart) at nineteen years old!

    Breasts are for babies before they are sexual objects. They are there to make milk for babies, not to please my husband! He can go suck a damn lemon for all I care. I’m going to feed our child. 😛

    I used to watch the show and really enjoyed it but now my opinion of the rabbi has really dropped. I want to plop him in the middle of a nurse-in with a bunch of hippie moms nursing comfortably (not necessarily discreetly).

    Power to the boobies!

  17. As I read this I am pumping with my husband sitting next to me… now that’s sexy! I can only imagine what the Rabbi would have to say about pumping and marriage!

  18. I just got home from being away all day to 56 comments on my blog. Thanks for the link! 99% think this guy is pretty nuts and is even going against his own beliefs saying this stuff. I’m glad to hear that breastfeeding is not hurting most marriages.

  19. I caught episodes of “Shalom in the Home” on occasion and thought he gave pretty sound advice. I could overlook all the other nonsense surrounding him. Not after reading this – and while his response clarified some things, it doesn’t make it any better. Thanks for publicizing it for all of us.

    In case you’re not totally Shmuley-ed out and want to feel further vindicated, I wrote a quick little something as well:

  20. Right after I wrote the above comment I checked my email and received a letter from a rep of Rabbi Shmuley’s website telling me he wrote a retraction. Back in 2006! I never knew the article was so old! Oops. However I also fault the web page for not posting dates. How was I supposed to know? Anyway, to read the retraction you can see it re-posted on my site as well as my reaction to it.

  21. Wow. Wow. Wow.

    The thing is, I can totally understand how, in his secret heart of hearts, men might understand feel that way. Everyone is human. Heaven knows, pregnancy childbirth and parenting do not make ME feel sexy.

    But I made an effort to get past it, because it’s important in our marriage – hell, it’s important for me to feel sexy for myself.

    Intimacy and feeling sexy takes effort. When you’re young and single, it rarely takes more effort than taking a regular shower to feel sexy.

    But what about the grind of daily life, of daily parenting, of seeing each other day in and day out, actually enhances feeling sexy and attractive? If I stopped doing everything that interfered with that – well, there’d be no cleaning of bathrooms, no paying of bills, no taking care of each other when we’re sick. I mean, I’d have to go move to another state, really, just to keep the mystery alive, to keep it easy to keep the sexy up.

    Marriage is practically designed to lose the mystery, to cultivate intimacy. We have to make real efforts to keep some sizzle. It’s not like if you take breastfeeding out of the question, life would be like a letter to Penthouse all the time.

  22. Which reminds me of something I thought when nursing and pumping. Yes, it was a pain – literally and figuratively. Yes, it was a hassle. Yes, it made me cry for various reasons at different times. My husband told me I didn’t have to keep it up if it was too hard but I responded, “It’s not like if I give it up, that motherhood will suddenly be simple, easy and pain-free. Motherhood is a pain anyway, so I might as well get all the benefits of breastfeeding.”

  23. WOW. This is unbelievable. Now, I am not a parent yet, but about a month ago I married the man of my dreams and we’re planning on having a family in the next few years.

    He has already assisted several goats with their deliveries (we’re farmers), and in fact was once a solo “goat midwife” and delivered twin kids all on his own. Frankly, it is archaic and misogynist to try and distance (or “protect”) men from the “female facts of life.” Is the process of birth sexy? No, but it’s amazing and powerful and phenomenal. Is a nursing mother sexy? Maybe, maybe not, but she’s certainly beautiful and stunning and tender. Seeing these strengths in your life’s partner should bring you closer, not separate you.

    Men should respect (admire!) the fact that breasts were made to provide life-sustaining milk for another human being. And the man who helps me create life had better be there doing whatever he can to help me and my body through the delivery… I’m quite certain THAT, not hiding him from the messiness of birth in the fear that he might perceive my female parts as a “mere birth canal”, is the best possible thing for our marriage!

  24. Pingback: Shmuleygate Part Deux « Crunchy Mommy Someday

  25. My mother successfully breastfed all her children (3 in total) and has been married to my father for 44 years this September.

    I successfully breastfed my daughter, and my husband was not only the most supportive person during that time, but he also couldn’t (and still can’t) keep his hands off me (and my boobs).

    Suck it Rabbi.

  26. This is so ridiculous! My husband LOVED when I breastfed my kids. I don’t think it had anything to do with them looking like torpedos when they were engorged. 😉
    I even nursed 2 children at once- never an issue for my husband at all. I still nurse my 2 year old occasionally (we’re weaning off–I’ve had it)! But this means I’ve been nursing for 3 1/2 years straight!
    Also, my husband watched every delivery- saw more than I’d ever want to(lol).. and still finds me very desirable. Does this make him a freak?

  27. I remember starting to read this article a few months ago and after a couple minutes exiting the page because I knew it would do me no good to continue.

    May I say, my husband not only watches me breastfeed, but he plays with my 15 month old while she’s nursing. Also, he not only witnessed her birth, but he coached me through the whole thing until he caught her with his bare hands. Lastly, (probably TMI) I have a FANTASTIC sex life and probably get laid way more than that stupid rabbi.

  28. I wonder what he’d think knowing I just pumped in front of my husband!! I bet he’d be shocked that he hasn’t left me yet, because there’s NOTHING sexy about being milked from a machine, haha.

  29. I am nursing my 2.5 year old daughter (yes, STILL) and I’m 7 months pregnant. I’ll try not to stray too much into the TMI zone here but my relationship with my husband has NEVER been better. Not because my husband likes me the size of a planet. Put simply, being parents has brought us closer in every way. We respect and appreciate each other and our commitment grows stronger every year. Good marriage = Great sex!

  30. Hahaha… just read this post. Hilarious! We didn’t make it to the hospital with our daughter. My husband delivered her in the car. No damage done to our sex lives 🙂 And frankly, that was the least of my worries.

  31. Yikes. Well, seeing my breasts used for “utilitarian” purposes did not diminish my husband’s desire for them!

    And like you…I don’t think this is a “formula vs. breastfeeding thing either.” And honestly, if a certain husband (any husband who feels like this guy actually) has a problem with it and is able to talk with his wife about it WITHOUT turning it into a guilt trip, and they decide together to go to formula for their sex life—I’m fine with that. That’s their choice…formula ain’t poison.

    But to use his position as a rabbi to lay a guilt trip on breastfeeding women? NOT COOL!

    And yeah, I think it’s kinda polite to cover up in public. But there’s a lot of husbands out there who like their wives being “visually generous” while nusring who would be dang disappointed if this guy’s guilt trip made their wives start covering up around them.

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