As a breastfeeding mother I have had endless amount of advice. Not advice I’ve asked for but advice I’ve been given out of the blue- sometimes when breastfeeding, sometimes when I was quietly minding my own business and sometimes when I just needed a shoulder to cry on.
The advice was pretty much the same but offered in different forms of breastfeeding contempt-
“a little formula will help him sleep” “if daddy could give him a bottle it would help them bond”
“don’t you want to be able to leave him for a bit/over night?”
“He isn’t putting on enough weight, he needs some formula”
“your milk isn’t enough, he is constantly hungry”
“is it not time to move on to cows milk now”
and my all time favourite: “you know boys that are breastfed for more than two years get psychological issues as adults”
and so it continued…..
Every time someone asked me a question my polite reply (such as, she feeds every two hours now) was followed by advice based on the assumption that because I had made choices different from theirs, I needed help, advice to guide me along the bumpy roads of mother hood.
This was the opposite of what I needed.
I had been a formula feeding mother whom spent every hour of her new baby’s life trying to express milk or make up bottles – and I dealt with the challenges that came with that, alongside the maternal guilt I felt daily for failing in the basic ability of feeding my child.
Compared to that, breastfeeding felt like a breeze.
No, I didn’t need to add in bottles because my baby was displaying normal cluster feeding behaviour- I needed some good box sets to keep me entertained for hours on end.
I didn’t need to give him formula to make him sleep, I needed to be spared the unrealistic ideas and comments regarding infant sleep.
And no, I didn’t need to stop when I got mastitis, cracked nipples or blebs- I needed advice on breastfeeding positioning.
I needed people to respect my choice to breastfeed, even when that choice was to continue to breastfeed until my son self weaned.
Funny thing is, as a formula feeding mother I never got this type of advice, no one ever told me to introduce breastfeeding to my daughter to settle her.
Maybe she just need some breastmilk and skin to skin to feel better- but can you even imagine the reply you would get if this was ever suggested to a mother who chose to formula feed? The criticism and judgement that would follow it a breastfeeding mother ever offered this advice?
Somehow the advice was rare when I bottle-fed and never based on the feeding alone.
I think at most, the advice extended to suggestions such as winding and wrapping my daughter up like a caterpillar in a cocoon- and of course the self settling nonsense I never believed in- but that was it.
In ways it feels as though many already believe you to have made the “right” decision by formula feeding so why would any advice contradicting that even be needed?
As a breastfeeding mother it doesn’t stop- when my son was 3 and thriving I was still told I was doing it wrong, that there were better ways and other things to do.
Surely he could chew his own food by now? And yes, he could but boo boo and solid food do not offer the same comfort, or amazing hormones!
The thing I find the most amusing about this type of unsolicited advice is that if I graciously offer a thank you but decline, as I am happy to continue to way I am, then I AM THE ONE WHO IS RUDE.
Hilda who is telling me that I’ve done everything wrong and unless I want to breastfeed my son when he is 22 year old and bedshare with him and his girlfriend, I must stop my perverted ways immediately. She is NOT rude, no, her advice is thoughtful and comes from a good place.
Here’s the thing Hilda- if anyone is rude, it is you…
Me politely moving the conversation on isn’t rude. You becoming offended because I am happy to continue as I am, you becoming offended as I won’t take your unsolicited advice- that’s rude.
Unless I specifically ask, please assume I am happy with our choices and that they suit our family just perfectly!
And Hilda, if you ever need some solicited advice- you know where to find me!