It's World Breastfeeding Week, a time each August when we work together to raise awareness for the needs of breastfeeding moms, breastfeeding families, and breastfed children. We celebrate the time by sharing success stories, by encouraging and educating others, and by providing support to those who may be struggling with nursing.
How do we handle critics, though? Many of us have seen "the look" from others in our lives when we tell them we're breastfeeding, when we ask for a place to quietly nurse, when our neighbor asks if we're "still" breastfeeding our 18-month-old, or when we ask our employer for a place to pump when we come back from maternity leave.
Everyone always has advice and opinions - Here are some comebacks for those critics who may try to keep you from reaching your breastfeeding (or pumping) goals:
1. Every pregnancy/baby/mom is different. This statement is absolutely true - no baby is the same, even for the same set of parents. What worked for your critic might not work for you and it's really none of their business what is working for you.
2. We're still working it out. Many times, parents who have been-there-done-that feel they have the authority to offer their opinions in your decisions. By telling the critics that you're still working it out, you're not shutting down their suggestion, but rather acknowledging that you've still got some learning to do. You can go about your business as you wish, and you don't need to explain that business to anyone else.
3. I'm happy that worked for you. This was my favorite response - especially to the co-worker who always claimed she had a longer/taller/more difficult/easier time than I did. Her son always slept through the night, her body never gained excess baby weight, she nursed without any problems - her words made me feel like I was making all the wrong decisions but then I could just smile and say, "I'm happy that works for you," and know that I'm happier with my life and my own decisions.
4. Thanks for the suggestion/opinion/input. Maybe we'll try that. The "maybe" lets this statement not be a lie because "maybe" you will take their suggestion. Maybe you'll stop nursing at 6 months - or maybe you'll continue until the World Health Organization's recommended nursing age of 24+ months. Maybe you'll co-sleep or maybe you'll put the baby in a crib the first night. Maybe you'll do exactly what YOU want to do with YOUR baby.
5. I'm doing what's best for my baby and family. This is such a simple, empowering statement that lets others know you've made your choices and come to your decisions in a direct way. Again, this is YOUR baby and YOUR family.
If you are concerned that critics need to be enlightened, please share in a friendly way. Provide positive examples of how breastfeeding and pumping works well for all involved. Don''t shut them out - instead offer to share books, continue conversations, refer them to websites such as Moms Pump Here for additional information.