How to Deal With Criticism About Breastfeeding

by Dagmar Bleasdale on August 5, 2009

The International Breastfeeding SymbolI have been asked how I deal with people who think they need to say something about my (extended) breastfeeding, so I thought I’d post my thoughts about that. I hope this helps other moms who have to deal with meddling family members or friends or even strangers.

1. I ignore them.

I know what is best for my child and me. Other people can do what they want with theirs. I don’t meddle in their life, so please don’t meddle in mine. Case closed. (Ugh, that sounds so harsh :)

2. I kill them with kindness — and education.

If someone really wanted to get into it with me, I’d tell them about all the health benefits for Landon and me that come with breastfeeding.

I have gone so far as to tell my own mother — who didn’t breastfeed me and seems to think I should stop breastfeeding L by now — that I won’t have a discussion with her until she reads up and educates herself about (extended) breastfeeding.

I have written many articles for my blog about breastfeeding to educate people, point those people to them! For additional information, checkout my breastfeeding category.

Here are three of my past articles that help with ammunition for the people who want to interfere with your breastfeeding choices.

- Health Benefits for Mothers Who Breastfeed
- Study Finds Benefits for Breastfeeding Moms
- Back to Breastfeeding

3. I show that I’m proud to breastfeed and that I won’t tolerate criticism about my choice/right to breastfeed.

I think it really makes a difference how you behave when you breastfeed in public or when company is around. I’m comfortable with feeding L whenever, wherever he wants to nurse, because he has the same right to get fed or comforted on demand as any other child.

When people see me nurse him with confidence and an attitude of “this is what we do in our family” and a smile on my face like it’s the most natural thing in the world (which it is), I don’t even get comments. It seems to stops people from saying something.

In almost three years of nursing, I don’t recall hearing one rude comment. I notice looks, but I just smile at those people as if to say “Isn’t this adorable?” and they look away.

If someone would make an inappropriate comment, it would roll off of me. I feel sad for those uninformed, judgmental people, but I know it might not be so easy for other moms to be this bold.

All I can say is, try these approaches. This is your life, own it! Don’t let other people’s opinions be more important than your own — don’t give them that power over your life.

There are plenty of people who applaud you for breastfeeding, like me. Be proud of yourself and don’t worry so much about what other people might think. They’ll get over it if you don’t let them get to you. Hope this helps.

My “I make milk. What’s your superpower” bumper sticker. I clearly don’t mind the whole world to know I’m breastfeeding :)

If my breastfeeding offends you, feel free to put a blanket over your head.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Mom2my10 October 20, 2010 at 2:26 PM

Oh my gosh, I love your last comment! You are the best!

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Dagmar October 20, 2010 at 4:03 PM

Thank you, but I’m so curious — which comment? :)

Wow, you have 10 children? You are amazing, mama!

Dagmar

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Kristi Bonney November 16, 2009 at 2:13 AM

I really needed this. I recently decided that I want to breastfeed my daughter until she’s at least 2 years old. After that, I’ll let her decide when she’s done. I used to be one of those moms who frowned upon “extended” breastfeeding, but then again I only breastfed my other 3 children for a maximum of 6 weeks. What did I know? Well things have changed. I really enjoy breastfeeding. This is something I am fully committed to. Thank you for this post and thanks to whomever it was that RT’d it via Twitter. :)

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SagePixie August 24, 2009 at 4:39 AM

I absolutely agree with every bit of this article. I’ve always been so confident, I haven’t really experienced much criticism. Know in you heart what you’re doing is right and that’s really all you need :-) Still nursing and my “baby” is 5.

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Amber August 10, 2009 at 6:19 AM

I have found it really helpful to cultivate some like-minded friendships. Having a support group really does help, and it gives me a haven where I’m not ‘unusual’. In fact, amongst many of my friends my daughter’s weaning at 34 months would be considered on the early side. You’ve got to love that!

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Reiza August 8, 2009 at 1:46 AM

First off, I have to say thank you for the support. I’m lucky enough to have friends who have nursed beyond infancy, but it can be so rough when you feel like the only one.

At a friend’s wedding, her mother sat in the church as the bride walked down the aisle, leaned over to her MIL (bride’s grandma) and whispered, “You see? I told you she’d be weaned by now.” :-)

If people start in, I like to point out that the WHO recommends bfing for at least 2 years. I also like to respond to, “When is she going to wean,” with, “Ask her.” :-)

When people asked, “Why are you STILL doing that,” I occasionally turned the question back on them. Why wouldn’t I? They usually don’t have an answer. If you act like weaning is the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard of, you can often cut them off. :-)

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Dagmar August 8, 2009 at 1:57 AM

I love the responses, “Ask her/him!” or “Why not?” I have to remember those :)

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Stef August 7, 2009 at 1:30 PM

Thanks for the article, I sometimes feel “lonely” when it comes to breastfeeding. A lot of people in our family and friends do not bf, and I was just tired of justifying breastfeeding my baby. Now there are comments about how he should be weaned by now (he is 15 months old)…. *rolleyes* Your article was very encouraging, thank you!

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Bekah August 6, 2009 at 12:02 PM

Ran across your blog from entrecard and just felt I had to throw in my comment of support. I breastfed my daughter until this summer – she was 21 months the last time she nursed. I would have nursed her longer, but after we were gone for a few days, she wasn’t interested beyond one or two times after that, and just gradually fell off. At first my mom was a little skeptical of how long I was breastfeeding her, but she did become fairly neutral after a few discussions back and forth.

Anyway, the AAP says to breastfeed “as long as mutually desired” – so if your toddler still wants it and you’re fine with giving it, go right ahead!

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Rachel August 5, 2009 at 12:38 PM

I love telling people about a study that most mammals wean at the human equivalent of five years.

My grandma made a joke about my son breastfeeding in kindergarten. I said that it was possible I might need to go to the school at snack time. Then laughed. Now that I’m confident that what I’m doing is right, I find joking about it helps.

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Judy @ MommyNewsBlog August 5, 2009 at 11:55 AM

Great article! I breastfed my son until he self weaned (just about a month ago). It was just before his 4th birthday. Lots of people tried to convince me to stop when he was 12-18 months old, but I found that after a while, they realized their comments weren’t going to have an effect and they stopped making them.

Happy World Breastfeeding Week to all – no matter how long or short you breastfed, you did what was right for you and for your baby! Celebrate this week!

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Kelsi August 5, 2009 at 5:09 AM

LOL – loved the bumper sticker! My Mom just asked the other day when I was going to wean Abby. I informed her women who breastfeed 2 _ years have a 25% lower risk of breast cancer (runs in our family). She reminded me Abby was over 2 years old *roll eyes*

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