Unsupportive Support- is your milk good enough?

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.)

 

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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? 

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Comments

  1. When my first was born, I knew I would breastfeed. My grandmothers breastfed, mom nursed us each for some amount of time (i don’t know how long, but we all got mommy milk for at least a while!), my sister nursed her babies. When my DD was born and weighed in at 8lbs 11ozs, the hospital staff (dr/nurse and supposed LC, and no, I don’t know what her qualifications were.. but she was a bismal!) said that my milk would never be enough for her as she was too large…my body would not be able to make that much for a newborn of that size. Being young and trusting in my carers, I took their word for it and supplemented some. Of course in doing that, and not knowing to pump when giving formula for a feed, I never made enough milk. It got even better when, during a weigh in, we were told she wasn’t gaining enough (no bfing chart existed yet….), and so she was put on something like pediasure for a little while, pediatrician’s orders, which we had to pay out of pocket for (and when we were scraping by with nary two pennies to scrape together, it was a large expense….we didn’t give it to her for long).

    There is nothing quite like being told you’re starving your infant, especially by the person who SHOULD know FACTS about breastfeeding and breastmilk, but actually know squat!

  2. The one that blindsided me came actually from my mom, who BFed 5 kids (and me until age 3!): “Honey, you’re so skinny, your milk can’t be very substantial.” This, along with comments on my daughter’s size–even though my husband’s family is full of short, skinny people. Argh.

  3. My mother in law, who is a nurse, told me that her mom always believed (and she agreed!) that after 9 months breast milk had no nutritional value. Sadly, I now hide the fact that I’m still nursing my 17 month old from her. I just don’t want to get into a debate about it, and I’m currently pregnant, so I know the next thing will be me hearing about how nursing my son is harming my unborn baby! Her comments started off more subtly and became quite blunt after a while. And my husband, who has been mostly supportive refuses to disagree with his mother, so I’m left to fight this battle on my own. I just don’t have the energy.

    • My mum has told me that she bf me and my sisters till 9 months because ‘that’s what you were told to do in those days’. She also said that when a woman she used to know fed her LO until 2yrs they all thought she was a bit odd… but the more I’ve found out about extended bf-ing and shared with her about it, the more enthusiastic she’s got and i think she’d be a bit disappointed now if I was to give up before my son is 2! 🙂 Was a little bit scared she’d take it as silent criticism (even though it wasn’t meant that way) so I’m really glad she’ll cheerlead for me 🙂

      • If that was true, the baby wouldn’t be gaining weight and flourishing. Maybe you should give her some literature on the subject. It’s sad that anyone would be that bold in criticizing someone else’s parenting choices like that. And your husband needs to stand up for you and tell his mother to mind her own business. Either that or tell him you aren’t going over to the MIL’s house. I sure wouldn’t go somewhere that I was being treated that way.

    • Did you know that around 1 year of age you start making an antibody that helps fight the Ecoli bacteria?! Women’s bodies are magic and don’t forget that for one second while your fighting your fight!!

      • Thanks ladies. I know I gotta keep plugging along. I just wished my husband realized how it undermines my confidence when I can’t spend the afternoon at his mom’s without sneaking off somewhere to “quiet him down”. They both think he is “clingy” he’s currently fighting a bad cold and is cutting his molar, name a child that wouldn’t be under those circumstances and they attribute it to breastfeeding. While making breastfeeding more public is great, extended breastfeeding really needs a PR boost!

  4. First, I LOVE that image above!

    Unsupportive support is the worst, because it undermines the mom under the guise of care and concern. My favorite comeback to the “formula and they turned out fine” argument is, “My Aunt smoked for all 4 of her pregnancies, and her babies turned out fine too.”

  5. So glad I found this site!! My daughter was 9 pounds and I had a c-section, I’ll be having a c-section again in January for the birth of our 2nd daughter. At the hospital in the recovery room they gave our daughter formula without asking me because she was “big and hungry”. We were never able to establish a good latch, all she wanted was a bottle, and the LC actually told me “it’s okay because she’s a big baby, she’s better off with formula, plus your milk won’t come in for days!” My milk actually came in on day 2!!

    I’m so glad I have so many more facts now and that my husband will be watching closly this time so no one can give her a bottle in the recovery room!!

  6. lexis Taylor says:

    My husband was kind of difficult with me while nursing our first daughter and I am pregnate with our second. Our daughter is a year and a half and we have numerous friends with babies around her age and she is so much more advanced than the other children…she was the only one nursed…I did it for ten months…she was done…she ripped a medal breast shield spit it out and wanted down…she hasn’t stopped running since. He has noticed how breastfeeding has helped her and is already encoirging me. Eve though we have quite a few months to go till our next bundle of joy gets here.

  7. I am beyond tired of unsupportive support. If I have to hear, maybe you aren’t making enough or didn’t you just feed her? one more time I’m going to lose it. Top it off with my husband acting like I’m holding him up when she nurses because it takes longer than a bottle and I’m really on the edge. I go back to work in a week and my daughter is starting to spit out the formula we had been told to “supplement” her with. I guess she prefers my milk over the fake stuff!

  8. We like our pediatrician on the whole but she doesn’t seem to be super well informed about breastfeeding. Warning: This is going to be a LONG rant because I’m getting annoyed.

    My son (baby #2) who is now almost 4.5 months old didn’t have a great latch in the beginning. He lost like 8% of his body weight and then held steady for two weeks – meaning he didn’t gain it all back by the time he was “supposed to.”

    She told me that I must have a low supply and in my exhausted frustration, I initially believed her. I was feeling really down until about a day and half later when I came to my senses and realized that the problem was probably more with him than me. I rented a baby scale and visited an LC and then I just really focused on getting him to latch well every single time. Within like a day, he went from .5-1 oz/feeding to 2-3 oz. And with that came the weight and she shut up about what I was feeding him until his 4 month check-up.

    My son is in the 25% in weight and the ***90%**** in length. The doc seemed surprised he’s still nursing 7-8x/day (as if that’s a lot for a 4 month old!). She said something about the 4oz bottles he gets while I’m at work not being enough when she knows 2 month olds who take 6 oz. She just couldn’t believe he could be satisfied with that. She questioned how often I pumped and how much I get when I pump. And yet she marveled at how strong he is and where he’s at with his motor development. She said he’d be sitting up in no time. No $h!t, lady! My son is more than fine. You’re the one who needs to get with the program!

    And she seemed a little miffed that I didn’t want to introduce solids until the end of the year when he’ll be about 5.5 months old and I realize that plenty of leakies would say that’s even too soon.

    It sad that this is what we get even from the medical community.

  9. Tracey Johnson says:

    Ladies, you might be suprised to hear that MOST pediatricians are not qualified to be giving advice on breastfeeding. Unless they are certified as a lactation counselor or consultant, you should take their advice with a grain of salt. IBCLC’s are really the best qualified people to help you with feeding issues!

  10. My mum and gran both commented on how thin my expressed milk was and I actually caught someone mixing some formula into it to thicken it up.

  11. I HATE “WOW! S/he really nurses a lot?!” Stated as an observation with such clear judgement! I have said, yea, well, if you only drank a few ounces of liquid you would be hungry too!, but I’ve heard that with all 3 kids and supply has been an issue – and I hate how insecure they made me feel!