Interfering mother-in-law: how to cope when your family is unsupportive of your breastfeeding

Interfering mother-in-law: how to cope when your family is unsupportive of your breastfeeding

Trust your instincts

If you and your baby are happy with breastfeeding, there’s no reason to introduce formula until you decide the time’s right… which could be never, if you wean him straight on to sippy cups.

Don’t bottle out

You’re his mum so if you want him to stick exclusively to breast milk, that’s your prerogative. Be aware that if you give in to your mother-in-law (or mum: blood ties don’t always guarantee empathy) on this issue, you could be setting up a precedent for her to bully you about other aspects of parenting in the future.

Get your partner on side

Giving your baby a bottle could adversely affect breastfeeding: some infants prefer the faster flow of milk from a fake teat and may reject the breast in favour of the bottle. Make sure that your partner is fully supportive of your decision to exclusively breastfeed, and will back you up when his mother tries to intervene.

Present her with the facts

Even your out-laws can’t argue with hard science:

  • Breastfeeding is best for you and your baby, for many health and emotional reasons. According to the World Health Organisation, babies should be exclusively breastfed until six months, then continue to breastfeed while they’re being weaned on to solids, until up to two years and beyond.
  • Explain the advantages of breastfeeding to your mother-in-law: it’s free, portable, doesn’t involve sterilising and is always on tap at the right temperature, even in the middle of the night. Plus it enhances the bond between you and your baby.

Mother knows best

Interfering mother-in-lawThink before you shriek: next time your mother-in-law butts in, consider the following responses:

She says…

‘Formula was good enough for my son so it’s good enough for yours.’

You say…

‘I know how much you love your grandson and you wouldn’t want him to have anything but the best: medical opinion has changed and now all experts accept that breast milk is superior to formula.’

She says…

‘If you give him a bottle, he’ll sleep through the night.’

You say…

‘I’m happy to feed him if he wakes, because I’m committed to breastfeeding for as long as we both want to continue.’

She says…

‘Now he’s a year old, it’s time that baby was weaned off the breast.’

You say…

‘Well, he’s having solids as well as breast milk, but we both love the closeness of breastfeeding and it’s still good for his health.’

Now tell us what worked for you…

Have you had to argue your case for breastfeeding? How did you deal with an interfering mother-in-law?

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