People love to give advice, but never as much as when you're pregnant. When I was pregnant with my daughter Anya, everyone had to weigh in about what I should not eating or drinking, how I should not be sleeping, what I should not be doing – chiefly, soft cheese and alcohol, on my back, riding roller coasters and definitely not all at the same time. I typically don't mind being on the receiving end of advice, because it's almost always well-intentioned.
Whether she's a co-worker or a cashier at the supermarket, your pregnancy is an opportunity for other women to reminisce and wax philosophically about her pregnancy. Often the stories can be frightening (such as babies with cords around their necks or back labor or the epidural not kicking in) but what are you going to do? That baby's got to come out and there's no turning around.
But when they learn that you plan to breastfeed, watch out! While many if not most women breastfeed without incident, it's the women who had trouble who will – with good intention - scare the bejesus out of you. My advice is that if they don't start with, “I LOVED breastfeeding” or “I miss breastfeeding,” RUN like the Dickens or at least listen but don't take their advice to heart. If breastfeeding ended up not working out for them, they will use the next half hour as a therapy session.
As a mother, I feel for these women, I really do. Most women want to breastfeed and if they aren't able to reach their goal, whatever it is, they are likely still mourning over that loss. The advice they give you will really be advice they wish they had received, such as “it's not the end of the world if you need to give the baby a bottle.” Of course not, but you want to succeed and the best way to do it is to visualize yourself succeeding. They'll tell you about bloody nipples, engorgement, how they didn't have enough milk, etc.
But as a lactation consultant, I'm here to tell you – listen to their stories but understand that this is your body, your child, your family, your lifestyle, your support system. If they didn't have a good experience breastfeeding, why would you take their advice? Obviously it didn't work out for them and though you may learn from what didn't work out from them, as someone who's new to breastfeeding, it may be hard to discern what's accurate.
By virtue of reading the Breastfeeding Diaries, you are more than likely preparing for success: reading evidence-based information from Bravado's excellent resource library, bookmarking Kellymom.com, attending a breastfeeding class, have a lactation consultant's number in your cel phone, have a breastfeeding book on your nightstand, etc. (Right? If not, add those items to your to-do list before you hit 9 months, okay?)
This week our bloggers talked about the breastfeeding advice that they've received. As I expected, their reactions to the advice are representative of the kind of people and parents they are or are going to be.
What is the craziest or best advice you've received about breastfeeding?