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Dealing with unsupportive family


Forum: Breastfeeding

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  #1  
August 20th, 2008, 10:19 AM
itsmemaggi's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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Hi,

We are expecting our first baby this October, and I am planning on breastfeeding for as long as possible. The problem? None of my side of the family are happy with it. My mom bottle fed me and my brother, my aunts think it's disgusting... Much of this stems from feelings they have toward my uncle's wife, who they believe breastfed for less-than-good reasons (not to mention she had very poor nutrition throughout and almost starved her children because she insisted on just breastmilk for way longer than was recommended). Now they basically think it's a perverted thing to do.

I am not about to go out of my way to defend my beliefs to them, but I'd like to be able to have some quick facts to give them (my mom thinks you only should breastfeed for the first six weeks, if even that) when I am around them and need to feed my daughter. I'd rather not deal with nasty comments, but some family get-togethers are hard to avoid. Besides, it's the first baby in my family for a long time, so I know they'll all want to see her.

Thanks in advance.

xoxo
Maggi
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  #2  
August 20th, 2008, 11:37 AM
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What is "breastfeeding for less than good reasons"? IMO unless a woman is sexually abusing her children, there are no "less than good reasons" for breastfeeding. Even if a woman breastfeeds because she likes it - you're supposed to like it. Nature sets it up that way in most cases and most women who get beyond the initial problems love it and are quite enthusiastic about it.

As far as nutrition goes, even women in third world countries produce good quality breastmilk for their babies even on less than optimal diets. Read what kellymom has to say about the effect of mom's diet on her breastmilk (very little).

http://www.kellymom.com/nutrition/mom/mom-diet.html

Also what is breastfeeding for "too long"? A baby gets their nutritional needs met by breastmilk for the first year of life. Solids are often introduced much earlier, in some cases as early as 4 months - but 6 months is more often recommended - but these are for practice only and should not be providing the bulk of baby's intake.

I'd say the first thing to do is not listen to your family about how wrong your uncle's wife was for breastfeeding. Anyone who thinks that breastfeeding is "perverted" in the first place is just so woefully misinformed and so entrenched in their biases don't be surprised if no matter what you say, they think they know better. That said, kellymom (quoted above) is a great site with lots of great info. Here is a list of 101 reasons to breastfeed your child:

http://www.promom.org/101/

And of course read posts around here. These ladies are an enthusiastic and well informed bunch. Breastfeeding is one of the best things I've ever done in my life and my family has had to make adjustments to get used to it, they don't understand it sometimes, but they are dealing.

They are likely to "worry" that your baby isn't "getting enough" because there is no way to "tell how many ounces" your baby is consuming. My stock answer for this one is that you can't have output without input so we just count pee and poopy diapers and if there are enough of those, obviously he's getting enough. My family stopped asking me after his first appointment at the pediatrician when he put on a good amount of weight and grew an inch in two weeks .
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  #3  
August 20th, 2008, 12:12 PM
KimberlyD0
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my family wasn't that supportive of BFing either. Specially when I wasn't able to do it for multiple reasons the first time. Thus starting them into "I told you so's" As if it proved that they were right and I was wrong.

I have since had my second and after a fight we have made it 3 months EBF. A feat I never thought I would reach. I have now shown my family that I was right after all.

I've found that with them info itself is not enough. They would have the answer to everything kwim

Results have ultamitly been the only thing that can change there mind.

I made my beliefes and my intentions clear from the start. Built up support from sorces outside of the family and thus made it to this point.

Unfortunitly sometimes thats really all you can do.

I use a BF cloke when I BF in public or around my parents. More for me then anyone else. LOL I don't want anyone seeing my bits, or worse my tummy nut till I tone it I do find it helps.

Now that DD is 3 months and gaining well, happy and well ajusted they've backed off and are actually coming around quiet a lot.

I don't know the situation, but if they have had negative assosiations with BFing in the past that can be hard to over come. Maybe you can be the one to make it possitive now.

Congrats on the new LO and good luck to you.
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  #4  
August 20th, 2008, 01:07 PM
Spacey Stacy's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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breast feeding is a personal choice and no one should ever make you feel bad for doing it..
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  #5  
August 20th, 2008, 01:46 PM
itsmemaggi's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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Quote:
What is "breastfeeding for less than good reasons"? IMO unless a woman is sexually abusing her children, there are no "less than good reasons" for breastfeeding....

...Also what is breastfeeding for "too long"?[/b]
Without going into much more detail, they are convinced she indeed sexually abused her children (and have no proof, unfortunately; she has been investigated, though, for other forms of abuse, as well). As far as breastfeeding exclusively for "too long," she would not let them eat solids until after at least a year of age; she breastfed her youngest until he was 5 at least, but most likely for longer. All of them are significantly malnourished, and the two younger ones have slight disabilities that could be related to not being fed enough as babies... She seems to have gotten worse (and more secretive) with subsequent children. She advocated breastfeeding for 24 straight hours (for what reason, I really have no idea) and tried to use LLL to justify her feeding methods. But she was bulemic and wasn't getting enough nutrition, herself... But when her doctor recommended she supplement with something else, after her babies started losing significant amounts of weight after 6 months, she refused.

I guess the big thing (besides their negative opinion of it after my uncle's wife and her issues) to my family is that none of them see it as "necessary." To them, formula is just as good. I really appreciate the advice and links. Like I said, I'm not going to defend myself, as it is indeed my choice, and if they've got enough of a problem with it that would keep them from seeing us, that's their problem. My husband is very supportive, fortunately, as is his family. So at least I've got some people who understand.

Thanks again!

xoxo
Maggi
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  #6  
August 20th, 2008, 03:00 PM
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Well don't let whatever was going on there influence you.

For example, it is NOT normal for an exclusively breast fed baby to lose weight without solids at 6 months. Something else is going on there. Some breastfeeding moms practice child-led introduction of solids - they do it when the child shows signs of readiness, not on a schedule. It's not uncommon for some babies to wait a few more months and be exclusively breastfed after 6 months. This is not "weird" or "wrong" (barring other factors, I'm talking normal stuff here) and it won't hurt your baby if they don't get solids right at 6 months. There are moms here who waited until 9 or 10 months to introduce solids and have happy healthy babies, not malnourished ones.

If you practice child-led weaning MOST kids will wean between 2 and 4 years - obviously not all, but there is nothing wrong with extended breastfeeding as long as it is wanted by baby and mom. So breastfeeding a 4 year old may not be for you but again, it's not weird, wrong or harmful. In some countries they go as long as 5 or 6 but that is not the norm in western countries with abundant fresh, safe food sources.

As far as not feeding your baby enough, this is not a breastfeeding thing. You can underfeed your baby formula too if you are warped about it. As long as you feed on demand, your baby will have enough to eat. I'm only commenting on it because this seems to be a new mom's biggest fear and the biggest thing that doctors and relatives who are ignorant about breastfeeding seem to harp on. A doctor who is uninformed will almost always recommend supplementing an this is almost always the WRONG thing to do. The best thing to do is to nurse as often as the baby wants - a baby who wants to nurse around the clock doesn't mean that your supply is inadequate but there are many doctors who will tell you so and encourage you to supplement with formula. Yes, there are cases where a woman cannot produce enough milk for medical reasons and I do not mean to minimize those but most women make plenty, even if your breasts don't feel full, even if your baby eats very often and even if your baby is not huge. Breastmilk digests more quickly so your baby will eat more often than formula fed babies and breastfed babies tend to be slimmer and healthier than formula fed babies - although a pudgy breastfed baby is just fine too! They slim down nicely when they start crawling. Regardless, being stubborn about not supplementing is something that if you are committed to exclusively breastfeeding your baby you might have to do when people start giving you what amounts to bad advice due to ignorance of breastfeeding - and most doctors know nothing about it.

I just wanted to stress that if your uncle's wife had issues, it's not because of anything inherently related to breastfeeding even though it sounds like your family thinks so. If the children were malnourished, it's not because she breastfed them - it's because of other issues.
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  #7  
August 20th, 2008, 03:05 PM
*~LuckyCharms~*'s Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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I hope that the links provided you with enough quick things to say when you want some BF benefits on hand! I wish you all the best. I wouldn't say that my family was UN-supportive, but like you, my Mom formula fed my brother and I and pretty much everyone in my family (except my MIL) didn't see the "big deal" about breastfeeding and why it was SO important to me to do it! I did it for 14 months and started solids at 5 months. After I started solids, I got a lot of, "When are you going to quit nursing?" And that was always irritating! I said we would quit when we BOTH wanted to, and that's exactly what I did. Breastfeeding is NATURAL. Women *make* milk when their babies are born! Why, if you have a choice, would you choose to ignore this milk supply and instead spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on man made formula?
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  #8  
August 21st, 2008, 09:50 PM
moon~maiden's Avatar Cheryl~ birth truster
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Hopefully you will be able to show them that healthy breastfeeding relationships do exist! It's a wonderful thing and some women do have big issues with it if they did not do it themselves, of "couldn't" do it themselves.

In addition to some reading, I suggest attending one or two LLL meetings before your baby arrives. That will expose you to some women nursing (something most people don't get to experience that often) and they can answer any questions you might have in person. And they can probably give you some great tips for dealing with your tough family.

It is really important that a new nursing mom have support, I'm glad to hear your husband is on board. The first few weeks are very emotional and tiring and if you have someone harassing you about nursing that sets you up for failure. I'm not sure if you feel comfortable telling your family that they cannot encourage you to give formula or make any negative remarks about nursing when they come to visit, or they will need to leave. Set it up beforehand so they know what the rules are. it may be challenging at first and you don't need any negativity.


best of luck to you!!
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  #9  
August 21st, 2008, 11:09 PM
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I just wanted to say good for you and your choice to breastfeed. I'm not one to say a person should do either, it's whats best for everyone and a personal decision. I breastfed my daughter until she was 10 months old. It's a beautiful thing between a mother and child and the milk is species specific! That's right, it was made especially for human babies. You should tell them that the next time they want to say it's "unnatural" or "not necessary". It's easy to digest and gives them all the vitamins that human babies need to develop. I also say good for you for not caving to the pressure of something that really is none of your family's business!
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  #10  
August 22nd, 2008, 08:26 AM
.adi.
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In all honestly, this is YOUR baby. Not theirs. When it's their baby they can do whatever they want with it. You don't have to explain yourself to them. Tell them that the health of your child outweighs what they think so you will do what is best for your child. And let them know that what is best for your child isn't something that the whole family can chime in on. You won't abuse or starve your child, so they have no say.
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  #11  
August 22nd, 2008, 08:31 AM
.adi.
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and I also wanted to add that the issues of your Uncles wife weren't becasue she breastfed them. Women have been breastfeeding babies for centuries. If it was such a horrible thing than the human race would never have survived.
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  #12  
August 22nd, 2008, 11:26 AM
Karlie's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
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I just wanted to say good on you for not bowing down to your family's crazy ideas...
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  #13  
August 22nd, 2008, 08:58 PM
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Quote:
not about to go out of my way to defend my beliefs to them, but I'd like to be able to have some quick facts to give them (my mom thinks you only should breastfeed for the first six weeks, if even that)[/b]
How's about...

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends...
Exclusive breastfeeding for approximately the first six months and support for breastfeeding for the first year and beyond as long as mutually desired by mother and child.


Combined with...

Are you a medical doctor? no? oh. Thank you. I'll give your advice the consideration it needs.

http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases...astfeeding.htm
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  #14  
August 23rd, 2008, 09:06 AM
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Ahh, that sucks that your family is so negative towards breastfeeding. I was lucky that all sides of my family were super supportive. My MIL had your problem, though. Her mom was MEAN about her wanting to breastfeed. In fact, she would bring a bottle of formula whenever she had to visit her mom, so that she wouldn't know she was breastfeeding. She didn't let her mom know she was doing it. And the sad thing is, her mom was only 1 semester away from being a medical doctor! Now, I don't recommend that you go to that extreme of keeping it a secret, but I just wanted to give you a story to let you know your family isn't all that unusual.

I think the best thing to tell them is the AMA recommendations. That, and I think you need to establish ground rules. Let them know that you're "not Aunt _____", "I'm going to do what I (and your husband) feel is best", and "If you can't support me in this, then I won't bring baby around."

Good luck! And I'm proud of you for sticking to your beliefs.
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  #15  
August 23rd, 2008, 09:24 AM
Kalia20's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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Quote:
In all honestly, this is YOUR baby. Not theirs. When it's their baby they can do whatever they want with it. You don't have to explain yourself to them. Tell them that the health of your child outweighs what they think so you will do what is best for your child. And let them know that what is best for your child isn't something that the whole family can chime in on. You won't abuse or starve your child, so they have no say.[/b]

ITA. Thats my attitude.

Quote:
and I also wanted to add that the issues of your Uncles wife weren't becasue she breastfed them. Women have been breastfeeding babies for centuries. If it was such a horrible thing than the human race would never have survived.[/b]


American and Canadian Pediatrics recommend EBF for 6 months, and at least one year.
WHO (World Health Org) recommends bfing for two years.

The list of benefits is so long, to long to list. Nak
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