With the holidays arriving, a mother visiting relatives might have her feelings hurt by some unkind remark about her breastfeeding. We were spared these comments from relatives, but I remember running into a breastfeeding mother in Church after the Thanksgiving holidays. She learned about ecological breastfeeding in our NFP class and loved it. She said their recent Thanksgiving dinner was ruined once everyone found out that she and her husband slept with their baby. Everyone present at the table was very critical of this practice.
I pray that other breastfeeding mothers do not experience such situations over the holidays. But, just in case, here is one mother’s advice offered to another mother who was already experiencing comments about her ecological breastfeeding.
I, too, wish I could translate to you the confidence that comes with even a few years under your belt. I faced a husband’s unsuppportive family, so thank God my husband was very supportive of my choices. I would advise traveling minimally. People can travel to you sometimes! I would share as little information as necessary. If your mother sets up a crib or Pak-N-Play in your guest room, just thank her or say nothing at all. Nobody will be in there at night to see where the baby is sleeping. (Now, my MIL did push for at least a year, probably two years, about exactly where my son was sleeping. She’d ask if he could sleep in her room or in another room alone. And where exactly did he sleep last night? Did he sleep in the futon she laid out for him? So with her, I was forced to be direct and I was very pleased that my husband was a warrior for me. He had no qualms about saying, “No, the baby sleeps in bed with his mother.”)
Babysitting offers: thank effusively and politely decline. Assure that as soon as we’re in need of a sitter, you’re at the top of our list! (In response to these, my husband would laugh and say, “How are YOU going to feed the baby?” He made it seem absurd, that there was no other way, that pumping or supplements just wasn’t even an option.)
I loved the idea about pacifiers: “Oh, thanks, our baby just doesn’t take a paci! But we get along fine, so it’s no big deal.” Said in the right tone of voice, that sure sounds like your baby has rejected a pacifier, which some babies absolutely do, even in pacifier-loving families. Now, if they push you hard enough, then the truth will come out, but maybe you can fend things off.
Re: pumping, boy do I hate the current obsession with pumping. Even women who plan to breastfeed, register for pumps and bottles, like it’s a required part of nursing! You could say cheerfully that the need simply hasn’t arisen yet, you haven’t needed it yet, or pumping doesn’t work that well for all women (which is true). I like someone else’s suggestion about how your doctor wants you to nurse directly as much as possible.
I don’t know how much resistance you’ll face or not, but you’ll get through it. I find that most families come to accept “the crazy daughter/daughter-in-law” and stop making so many comments after the second or third child. It just becomes a loving acceptance of a quirky mothering style. 🙂
If anyone would like to share their experiences, please do so.