How Mike Schaffer, "The Man Behind the Milk" Paved the Way for First-Time Fathers to Play a More Supportive Role
BD: Your blog for Bravado Designs, "The Man Behind the Milk," chronicles your own experience supporting your wife's breastfeeding with your first-born child, and all that you learned along the way. You became known as the "World's First Breastfeeding Dad" and one of the world's most trusted dad resources. Where did you find the confidence and the desire to lead this important conversation?
MS: I think the days of the stereotypical disengaged idiot dad are done. A 2012 study showed that nearly 60% of kids have both their parents in the workforce. This means that the "traditional" gender roles of mom-at-home-while-dad-works are diminishing. And with moms working, dads have to pull their weight in childcare like never before.
My wife and I made the decision together that breastfeeding was important to us in how we raised our children. If breast milk was going to be the primary sustenance for my baby, why shouldn't I know as much about it and do as much as I can to help my wife, since producing the milk was one thing I categorically could not do?
I'm flattered that so many fathers (and mothers) were able to follow along in my journey, and find tips they could use. My goal was to add a spark to the conversation of the evolution of fatherhood and that still keeps me motivated today.
BD: A study by Bravado Designs found that "women are more likely to breastfeed if the man in their life supports it." What's the number one piece of advice you share with new dads when it comes to that critical support role?
MS: The little things matter. Rubbing mom's back or hands can make the process so much easier and make you an active participant. I mean, I take advantage of the time my wife is nursing to watch a game as much as the next dad, but a little rubbing goes a long way.
BD: For many, today's dads are considered equal partners when it comes to taking care of baby and raising kids. Could you describe this modern superhero we call Dad?
MS: Being a dad is a full-time job. Just today alone, I got my two-year-old daughter up for school, changed her diaper, picked out her clothes, made her breakfast, fed her, packed her bag for school and dropped her at daycare, while finding time to get myself ready for work, snuggle with our newborn and plan out the next few days with my wife. And then I'm doing the daycare pick up, the post-dinner potty training session, giving her a shower and reading her three books before bed.
The new definition of a real man has nothing to do with fighting, macho stuff - it's about being a partner and a role model at home and in your work.
BD: In celebration of our newest innovation, the Bravado Essential Embrace™ Nursing Bra, we launched the Embrace Space contest with Project Nursery. An Embrace Space can be a truly special place for dad to bond with baby during a late night feeding, or an afternoon cuddle. Describe your ideal Embrace Space.
MS: One of our favorite things to do with the kids is listen to great music and dance around the house. Together, we listen to some amazing artists, like Queen, Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Wonder. Kiddie music is great, but we want to give them an awesome base of musical knowledge. So my ideal Embrace Space will have lots of open space and soft carpet for dancing with Ryk and silly jumping and rolling around with Hava. Plus a comfy rocking chair... more for me to take a breather than for them!
Mike Schaeffer is the creator of The Fatherhood Guide, a website for fathers of all kinds, and blogger for Bravado Designs "Man Behind the Milk." Mike is an experienced online marketing strategist, publicist, adjunct professor and public speaker. He resides just outside D.C. with his wife, toddler, a newborn and their dog, Balki.
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