Breastfeeding Battles

January 12, 2009 12:00 AM

Q: My mother is against breastfeeding and my husband is very pro-breastfeeding. What can I do to deal with their different opinions?

A: You’re not alone in experiencing this generational divide. Our mothers, and even their mothers before them, likely didn’t breastfeed. Today, we know the health benefits of nursing, for both mom and baby, and are encouraged to do it for as long as possible. That’s why I recommend my clients explain the decision to breastfeed not as a personal choice, but as one made as a result of new information. Giving the grandparents handouts about the advantages of breastfeeding can be a powerful communication tool.

But beyond the health implications, for many the deeper issue is finding one’s own path in parenting. Remember, breastfeeding will not be the first or last conflict. It’s normal and natural to want approval of your parenting styles, but what matters more is learning to hush external voices and finding your own confidence as a mother.

When a client shares this common concern with me, I know it will be crucial to nourish and protect the breastfeeding relationship from the doubts and insecurities of the first three weeks postpartum. Nursing is a learned skill that requires listening to baby’s cues and using your own body wisdom. So, having resources like a postpartum doula or lactation consultant, or attending free La Leche League meetings, are that much more important.

If research and instincts support your desire to breastfeed, your partner’s backing will be invaluable. Research shows that encouragment from the father, together with his positive attitude and knowledge of nursing’s benefits, has a strong influence on how long a mom nurses successfully.

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