Family portrait


Hochelaga-Maisonneuve (Montreal)

Mom of Simone, 4 and a half, Alphonse, 3 and a half and Lou, 19 months

Zoé is a stay-at-home mom of three energetic children. She is a strong feminist and involved in her community.

Zoé and her partner chose to breastfeed their children and, despite the challenges, have lived this great adventure positively.

Without hesitation, Zoé states that the father of her children played a central role in the breastfeeding process.

She participated in the project to pay tribute to him and to surprise him.

Maman et 3 enfants

The shock of the first breastfeeding experience  

« My first delivery was beautiful but exhausting and destabilizing. After labor, pushing and delivery, I thought it was all over. Having given birth at home in the middle of the afternoon, at 6:00 pm, my midwives had left, and my boyfriend and I found ourselves in bed with our brand-new baby, feeling slightly dizzy. It was the beginning of everything for me (and him): I had a baby in my arms that I wanted to breastfeed, and I was surprised at how tired I was, how painful breastfeeding was and how unnatural it was for me to breastfeed.

The first night, all I wanted to do was sleep. But the first night, my daughter didn't want to sleep; she wanted to drink, and she cried a lot. Daddy did his best to give me a break and spent part of the night comforting our daughter, doing skin-to-skin and bringing her to me to nurse, again with great difficulty. For part of the night he kept her on him so she and I could rest.

The next morning, my parents arrive at home to meet our daughter and I am sitting on the couch in front of them trying to breastfeed and hoping that I am not in too much pain. My partner slowly approaches me and calmly explains how to hold my daughter, how to hold her head and body and what position her mouth should be on my breast. I follow each one of his advices, speechless.

My parents look at him, just as amazed. And the pain is so much less, I suddenly feel less helpless in my new role, my daughter looks calmer, I am calmer. That night, when he held our daughter over me to give me some rest, he went online to read everything he could find about breastfeeding. And, that morning, he taught me how to breastfeed with the utmost love for myself and our daughter. »

Three very different breastfeeds  

« For all three of my children, it's been very different. With my first, I thought breastfeeding would be natural. That was it, I didn't have any other images than that. And, in the end, it was a real learning process that lasted during my breastfeeding: fighting chapping, experiencing the first public breastfeeding, being amused (and blushing) to see your ejection reflex let loose in public as she turns around to look at something that intrigued her, learning to have to be there for her, to be brought back to her no matter what state I was in, where I was, what I was doing, learning to breastfeed while being in the bathroom, while taking a bath, while eating...

With my second one, it was a little easier, the beginnings, as I didn't have any chapping, but one more challenge: my boy was crying a lot, I tried exclusion diets to help him a little. After 4 months, there were different phases (you know when your baby only wants to drink when lying down, for example, or 10 times a night at 8 months), but it was simple and pleasant, and I was able to perfect my techniques. I learned to breastfeed while  I was wiping my older one's bum, while I was swinging her in the park, while cooking...

For my third, during pregnancy, it was the first time I had breastfeeding images, I was looking forward to breastfeeding. The night feeds of the first weeks were extraordinary: little moments just the two of us where we stuck together, far from the daytime chaos, it was our honeymoon of the first weeks. Afterwards, it was a team effort. She followed me through a very hectic year like a great lady, nursing in every position and every situation as if nothing had happened. »

A role with many faces  

« There are as many specifics to this role as there are dads and families, but it's clear that a dad who is willing and able to take his place is extraordinary.

I think finding a place in the mom-baby dyad, taking direct responsibility for the newborn, is about making sure you develop a strong bond with your baby and making sure you make the ups and downs of the first year with baby, but also with your lover, a little sweeter. »

A bond that develops over time  

« With the first, it developed very quickly [the father's bond with the baby], by skin-to-skin contact, gentle moments, and taking on responsibilities (he was the one who changed her first diaper, who learned everything about switching to cloth, who walked around the house so much to console her during her evening cries, who organized a whole co-sleep "set up" for us, etc.).

With the second one, the small gap (13 months) between our children meant that daddy took care of our big one a lot and less of our newborn. The attachment was slower, more difficult. It came later, by going out alone with our son, by consoling this child that he knew less, by getting to know this funny, extraordinary child.

With the third, it was faster than our second, but heartbreaking. A new job meant that he could not take paternity leave. He's been busy since she was born, but has often stopped to contemplate her, if only for a little minute here and there, and learn, like that, to love her in a hurry. As soon as he could, he even went on professional outings alone with the three children, including our last one of not even one year in the baby carrier. Those kinds of big 'moves' really helped the bonding. »

One child, one relationship crisis  

« As I tell my friends: one child, one relationship crisis. At the first one, even though sexuality had resumed very quickly, the "distance" between him and me grew with his return to work, the "disconnection" from what was happening at home while he was away, my own learning as a mom, my requirements to breastfeed on demand day and night.

After a while, we felt the need to spend time together, away from home, without our baby. We had some crazy evenings as we tried to reconcile our need to be together and enjoy it as much as possible with our desire not to let our daughter cry, and we sometimes ran (!) home from the local bar to calm our baby down when my mom couldn't so I could nurse her.

For the other two, we had the same need to get together, to be not just a parental team, but a team of lovers able to look into each other's eyes without interruption, to celebrate and to be just the two of us. But all of this is so hard to reconcile with certain parenting requirements to not "rush" the baby, to not put the baby in a position where they are crying because you are not there, even if they are with another loving person. At some point, we had to choose between the health of our relationship and our parenting demands! And those have been really great decisions for our family. »

maman et 3 enfants


Meet Zoé, Simone, Alphonse and Lou in our videos! (in French only)