Handling Disapproval of Your Breastfeeding Choices

lost-luggageHoliday travel to visit family and friends is a welcome opportunity to show off your cuter-than-cute new baby. Sometimes that sense of “going home” to your childhood home can trigger warm memories; memories that you hope to share with your children.

However, going back as an adult can be disappointing. In addition to things not being quite as great as you remember them, there’s the change in roles that has emerged as you start your own family. You’ve made your own decisions on how to nourish and care for your child, which  may be wildly different than the choices your parents made a generation ago.

Since breastfeeding rates were at an all-time low in the early 70’s, many mothers breastfeeding now were not breastfed themselves as a baby. Grandparents aren’t familiar with the current science supporting breastfeeding and your mother may unknowingly even be a bit jealous she didn’t have the opportunity for the intimacy you have with your baby.

Or it could just boil down to your extended family’s discomfort with being around someone breastfeeding. Either way, an eagerly awaited holiday trip can end up being stressful and disappointing.

Here are a few ideas to think about ahead of time to help make your time with your family as easy as possible for everyone:

  • Don’t take comparisons between your choices and those of your siblings personally. Treat them just as information and conversation, even if you suspect they were meant as a “why don’t you like the way we did it?” This can be hard, but that’s what distinguishes it as the higher road.
  • You had good reasons for your decision to breastfeed. Remind yourself of those and refresh your memory on the statistics or advantages that meant the most to you. Your family may not have had the advantage of that information. Having the information on hand can give you a personal boost and be a great resource if you’re feeling up to educating family members.
  • Practice ahead of time some answers or phrases you can use to deflect attention. Coming up with the words you want in the moment is hard. Think it through, write it down, and practice it. Try something like, “I’m happy you care so much about Johnny. Right now this way is working for us.” Or, “We might consider that in the future.”
  • Push any perceived negativity aside and don’t let it be an issue that defines your visit. Your confidence will be contagious. Even if someone were so bold as to say, “You’re only going to be here a few days. You could change what you are doing at least while you are here,” You know you could also put it the other way, “I’m only going to be here a few days. You could put aside your discomfort for that short time.”

Enjoy your visit!

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