Breastfeeding is quite a ‘hot-button’ topic. With women getting ridiculed in Target Stores to NASCAR driver, Kasey Kahne, making comments about breastfeeding being ‘nasty’, breastfeeding mothers have a lot to deal with. And these news stories only touch upon the criticism breastfeeding moms receive, often from their family members and friends.
As if breastfeeding isn’t challenging enough, moms of new babies often feel the need to find discreet places to nurse their babies in public, just so they won’t ‘offend’ a complete stranger. And when we choose to nurse our babies for over a year, family members and friends may often offer ‘unsolicited advice’ about weaning our breastfed babies.
So what is a mom to do?
How can we follow our instincts to do what is best for our children, while dealing with criticism from our friends and family?
Here is some advice from a few of our readers:
Marie: We dealt with criticism when we chose to continue breastfeeding longer than 6 months. From 6 months to when we weaned at 2.5 years I heard a lot of comments. But mainly I ignored them or told that that I am letting my son decide when he is ready to wean.
Lolis: I told my stepmother my goal was to breastfeed for at least a year. She gave me a horrified look and then for some stupid reason I said, "Oh, well maybe just six months," and she then said: "Yeah, that's better." I am still so mad at myself for saying that!!! I can’t believe I bent to pressure like that. NEVER AGAIN! Next time she says something I am going to tell her that I am doing what I think is best for my baby and I am letting her decide when she wants to wean. My husband was breastfed for 2 ½ years so he supports whatever I choose to do.
Amanda: I told them to back off. They feed their kid how they want, and I will feed mine how I want!
Kristin: My daughter is almost a year and people, including my husband (OMG don't get me started on THAT!) keep asking me when she is going to stop breastfeeding. I just smile and say when she wants to. Then they imply it should be in a month or two and I just keep on smiling saying she can decide and she isn't showing any signs of slowing down.
Here are a few other options:
- Inform critics about the nutritional benefits of breastfeeding past 1 year. Many criticizers believe that there is no nutritional value in breastmilk after 1 year. Let’s educate them!
- Blame it on your pediatrician. The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond. Saving lives, people. Saving lives!
- Try to be gracious. They might just be uninformed about the benefits of breastfeeding. For example: “Thank you so much for your concern about me and my baby. I am pretty sure we are fine right now, but I will let you know otherwise.”
- Let them know how their comments make you feel. This is your child’s health and wellbeing you are dealing with. Stand your ground and be honest. For example: “I appreciate that you have concerns about how long I plan to breastfeed my child, however, your criticisms make me uncomfortable. I am able to comfort and provide nutrition to my child in a way that is incomparable to anything else. I would appreciate if you would respect my parenting skills and not question them.”
- Find a breastfeeding support group or attachment parenting group in your area where it is normal to breastfeed your baby for however long you are comfortable with. Surround yourself with these supportive women. They will have plenty of advice for you.
Here are a few great blog articles about dealing with criticism about breastfeeding:
So, how have you handled breastfeeding criticism? Please share your advice!