What To Tell People About Your Choice To Breastfeed
Many expectant moms spend time researching breastfeeding before making the choice to breastfeed. We read articles, scour books, and seek support from other moms as we prepare. Some of us buy pumps and special bras. Whether we come from a culture that is friendly to the idea or from a background foreign to the idea of breastfeeding, a lot of thought goes into our decision concerning breastfeeding. And once we’ve made the choice to breastfeed, other people may feel the need to voice their own opinions or ask questions about our choice. Navigating these reactions can get a little hairy. What should you tell others when they question your decision to breastfeed?
Start with your own story. Try to nail down your personal reasons for breastfeeding before getting into a discussion with others about your choice to breastfeed. Have you decided for lifestyle reasons? medical reasons? interpersonal reasons? Explain to your friend, acquaintance, or stranger a bit about the journey to your choice to breastfeed. You can go into depth or keep it light. You might explain that you love saving money on formula or that you have read about all of the benefits to baby and mother, including physical, mental, and social health benefits.
Also, it helps to get the background of the person questioning your decision to breastfeed. If you’re having a sit-down conversation with a friend, you may choose to dig into the question-asker’s motives. Are they from a background that is unfamiliar with breastfeeding? Are they simply uncomfortable being around a breastfeeding mother? Have they had a poor experience with breastfeeding or know someone who shared horror stories of their own experiences? Ask them why they are curious before you launch into your own explanation. This will help you shape your own response to their questions.
Don’t be afraid to share your emotions. In some situations, it may be best to share how enjoyable nursing has been for you or how much bonding you’ve experienced with your child if you’re already breastfeeding. Consider discussing the hormones that are released in nursing mothers and how those hormones have helped you in your mental health journey. You might even share stories about the closeness you feel with your little one due to breastfeeding. If you’re not already breastfeeding, you could share how much you’re looking forward to these benefits you’ve read about.
The science behind nursing can be your best friend. If all else fails, use science! There is so much science to support your choice to breastfeed. You’ve done your research, so use it! Talk about colostrum, milk composition, decreased disease risk, lower rates of ear infections, early eating habits, the link to higher IQs, benefits to the mother’s recovery, and any of the other things you’ve researched as you made your choice to breastfeed.
Choose your battles. The bottom line is this: You don’t have to defend or discuss your choice to breastfeed. If you’re not comfortable with the question or don’t want to discuss it, politely change the subject, ignore the question, or say something simple like, “Oh, you know, we all have our reasons for making important decisions like this, don’t we?”
Discussing your choice to breastfeed can be a simple or difficult experience, depending on the situation and the people involved. It’s totally up to you to decide who you open up to about your choice and how you discuss it. Be confident in your decision and stick close to those who support you in your choice to breastfeed. You’ve got this!