When it comes to breastfeeding, there appear to be two distinct camps and the battle lines are clearly drawn between the two. On the one hand you have the breastfeeding proponents who will tell any and every woman that she is doing her child a tremendous disservice if she does not breastfeed. Moreover, members of this camp see nothing wrong with criticizing women in public for offering a baby a bottle instead of their breasts. On the other side of the equation are the bottle-feeding proponents who deride breastfeeding as an antiquated custom designed to chain women to their homes. They cite the tremendous difficulties associated with leading a productive professional life while at the same time continuing to breastfeed the infant.
As you might imagine, the truth lies somewhere in the middle, but as a new mom you may want to stay out of the arguments that deal with breastfeeding pros and cons. This is not to say that you should not have an opinion one way or the other. It simply means that in light of so much hostility on both sides, you just don’t need that in your life right this minute. Here are some tried and true tips on how not to become embroiled in the breastfeeding debate.
* Even as the battle lines are drawn, you must realize that unless you are intimately involved in another woman’s life and know all of the aspects that govern her life, you are not qualified to make a judgment on her behalf. She is not selfish if she chooses to bottle feed her infant and she may also not be shackled to her home if she chooses to breastfeed.
* If you encounter criticism because you choose to breastfeed in public, remember that the other person may have had a singularly bad experience with breastfeeding herself. Even worse, she may have lost a baby in infancy, and seeing you bonding with your infant is bringing back terrible memories. Do not be so quick to judge her as rude or obnoxious, but instead thank her for her input. Once she feels she has been heard, the odds are good she will move on and you can continue breastfeeding in peace.
* Do not bring your breastfeeding disagreement to the Thanksgiving table. This is neither the place nor the time to discuss your disagreement on breastfeeding. What is more, there is a good chance that this discussion will virtually go nowhere. Instead, the men at the table may be embarrassed, and the women at the table may be sharply arguing about a topic that should be a very personal choice for each and every mom to make for herself.
Remember that you most likely will not be able to change anyone’s mind, so the argument is virtually moot. Instead, it pays to listen, smile, nod, agree to disagree and then go on to breastfeed – or not – in keeping what you have decided for yourself. This is best for everyone involved and greatly reduces the stress you and your baby will endure.