When you are born into and/or brought up in an environment where breastfeeding is the norm, you may never have to deal with criticism about your decision to begin breastfeeding or your decision to continue breastfeeding past the first year.
For the parents who are in this position, please post a comment on your experience as I am sure my readers would love to hear about it.
Some mothers think they are out of the woods because their own mothers and mother-in-law have told them that they think it is great that they are going to breastfeed. I have one good friend, Stacy, whose mother did not breastfeed her 3 babies, but was very supportive of my friend who planned to breastfeed as soon as her baby was born. Her mother-in-law was equally as supportive because she had breastfed all 4 of her babies.
Well, it turns out that Stacy had suffered through cracked and bleeding nipples ( which is not normal – get help from an IBCLC), and by the time she had her second bout of mastitis ( a breast infection), her mother was begging her to stop breastfeeding and allow her body to return to normal. My friend was feeling very vulnerable, did not want to quit, but at the same time was unsure of what she should do.
She suffered through the first month or so and by the time her baby girl was 6 weeks old, she was finally beginning to enjoy breastfeeding. She knew her baby was happy at the breast, gaining well and it no longer hurt her. My friend was finally settling into a happy routine in getting use to breastfeeding and it was becoming second nature to her.
At this point, her mother-in-law begin to say: “And when are you going to stop breastfeeding and give your baby formula?” After hearing this for several weeks, my friend finally got the nerve to ask her mother-in-law why she kept pushing her to stop breastfeeding. It seems that while her mother-in-law did breastfeed her 4 babies, she also automatically stopped at 6 weeks old. She was under the impression that her milk had lost its nutritional value at this point and was “no good” anymore. This is what she had been told years ago and so she had become increasingly concerned that her grandchild was no longer getting what she needed. While I know this information is false, I can understand why she was pushing her daughter-in-law to stop breastfeeding. Interestingly enough, I continue to hear this being said – only it is not at 6 weeks the milk is no longer good, but at some point between 6 months to 1 year, depending on who you speak to.
For some mothers, the criticism comes from the father of the baby. Perhaps he was supportive in the beginning. However, he is now living with a breastfeeding mother and he can see that it can be time consuming. He is also feeling left out as he cannot feed his own baby. Dads sometime put pressure on breastfeeding mothers to pump so they can give baby milk from the bottle. Little does this Dad know that while in the beginning it can be time consuming, it soon becomes quite easy and takes very little time AND can save him a lot of time. But more on that later….
Some of my all time favorite criticism is when babies get teeth or when they turn a year old. The comments that some mothers tell me, either have me rolling on the floor laughing or truly empathizing with them for being in this situation. But more on this later also…..
Criticism from family or friends can be very trying for some breastfeeding mothers. In the next blog we will discuss some ways of handling this issue and how to respond to those who are particularly critical of your choices.
Meet you in the next blog!