6 men attempt breastfeeding challenge in honor of World Breastfeeding Week

Published: Aug. 4, 2023 at 6:49 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The first week of August is known as World Breastfeeding Week. In honor of this week, six of Covenant Health’s male senior leaders participated in a simulated breastfeeding challenge.

The men simulated the action of breastfeeding for 20 minutes every 3 hours for four days. The men recorded video diaries each day to track their progress. Some admitted they missed a pumping session; others stated that, if they were really required to breastfeed, they would be buying formula.

“Wondering why I agreed to do this,” Interim Director of Critical Care, Matt Mitchell, said in his video diary for Day 1.

These men participated in the challenge to gain some insight into the everyday routine of a working mom who is breastfeeding.

“First day was pretty rough,” Mitchell said. “It got a little bit easier once you got the schedule down, but a whole new perspective for sure.”

The biggest issue for most of them was staying on schedule. Normally, a woman would be in pain if she missed a feeding.

“There was no way to multitask,” Walt Cathey, the Chief Executive at Covenant Health, said. “I mean, you’re basically having to hold the two pumps so you couldn’t really do anything for 30 minutes.”

Many breastfeeding moms struggle to find a private space where they feel safe, which is a challenge some of the men faced in this simulation.

“I think that was Wednesday; I made the effort to go sit in a public restroom for 20 minutes,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell admitted in his second video diary that the bathroom was “uncomfortable from a vulnerability standpoint.” He remembers his wife had to do that many times as a busy mom.

“Finding a place that you feel is secure for you is definitely difficult,” Cathey said.

Cathey stated his office and his conference room did not offer enough privacy in one of his video diaries.

“Even with my two rooms, I was always sitting there going, ‘man, who’s gonna walk in?’” Cathey said.

The men said even though Covenant has a lactation lounge for breastfeeding moms, this gave them a new perspective on giving women safe spaces while at work.

“This is the first time we’ve really kind of challenged ourselves to look in the mirror on this situation,” Cathey said. “We have to create a more open environment for our moms to feel comfortable; I mean, we are healthcare.”

Although many other factors that go into breastfeeding for working mothers cannot be simulated, these men stated this challenge gave them even greater respect for working moms.

“It was a huge eyeopener for me,” Cathey said. “The dedication that they put into this; you can’t have anything but respect for these ladies.”

The men said they would encourage every man with a wife or woman colleague to try this breastfeeding challenge to understand a woman’s point of view.

“What we had to do was minimal in comparison, what our working moms go through, being pregnant, giving birth, even after that, sustaining life for this infant, its incredible,” Mitchell said.