Continuing the series on unsupportive support come two more gems. Hit the quality. Please, if you have the opportunity to come into contact with a breastfeeding women and you can’t say anything supportive… maybe you shouldn’t say anything at all?
How not to support and how to avoid being unintentionally unsupportive- part 2.
Unsupportive support is…
Informing her that her baby must not be getting enough and that’s why her baby wants to eat all the time, saying she can/can’t eat/drink certain foods while breastfeeding, telling her breast milk turns to water after 6 months, that she needs to start them on solids, Sating her baby is too skinny/too fat and needs her diet needs to change, or pretty much anything else that puts down breast milk.
I’ll keep this one short: have you studied human lactation? Are you well read in the latest scientific research and health care recommendations on infant nutrition? Have you done anything more than read a couple news articles or listen to a radio personality/TV celebrity talk about breastfeeding? Unless you can produce researched (as in legit, peer reviewed, scientific research) information backing these claims, don’t ever say anything questioning the quality of her milk or the validity of her feeding choices. Ever. Are you even qualified to say this stuff? Go do some research before you spout off ignorance and recite this until it sticks: “I must trust this mom to do what she feels is best and support her along the way.”
Telling a new mom “Isn’t formula just as good as breast milk? My children were all formula fed and they turned out fine!”
While she’s probably quite happy for you that your children did fine on formula, that’s not the choice she has made for her child. Her choosing something different isn’t a criticism of your choice, not even a little bit. You may choose to wear pink yet she never would and that’s no reflection on you, just a difference in what each of you feel is right for yourselves. She’s taken a lot of time in making her decision just as I’m sure you did in making yours. You may not realize it, but in questioning her decision like this you are insulting her ability to make the right choices for her family. And it is her family, her choice to make. You already got to make your choices for your family or will some day. If this thought runs through your head the most supportive act you can do is to button it and don’t dare bring it up to her or her partner. Not even once. If you’ve already done this, go out of your way to apologize and intentionally let her know you support her breastfeeding. Put this on the inside of your front door to help you remember this: “I will support her even if she makes different choices than me.”
Pulling the quality card is exceptionally manipulative, most moms really want to give their child(ren) the best they can. Taking a swipe at her for what she’s feeding her child and planting seeds of doubt that maybe, for some reason, her milk is inadequate isn’t supportive. It becomes very difficult not to take it personally and she doesn’t need the worry you planted. Breast milk quality is rarely an issue, in fact, breast milk is perfectly engineered to meet her growing child’s needs with a custom blend. The quality couldn’t be better! On the rare occasion that there could be an issue an expert on human lactation is better equipped to address it than the people that should be encouraging her in her parenting goals. Your lack of understanding of normal human lactation and the normal needs of a breastfed child should not be what you draw from to show concern or support. (A great place to start educating yourself is this post on normal behavior of the breastfed newborn.)
Did some of your support people question if your milk could be any good?
How do you respond when people say unsupportive comments trying to tell you your milk isn’t any good or that formula is just good if not better?