How to Deal When Your Family Doesn’t Believe Breast is Best
- Women who have family support tend to breastfeed for a longer amount of time.
- Discuss your decision to breastfeed with your family before you give birth.
- Get your family to support you in other areas of your life after delivery, instead.
- Find a breastfeeding support group near you.
When breastfeeding women are supported by family, they are more likely to feel confident in their decision to breastfeed. They are also more likely to breastfeed for a longer amount of time. It can be frustrating and overwhelming if you don’t have this support behind you and your decision to breastfeed. You may feel you are being judged for your decision. You may lack practical support if your family refuses to help with tasks related to feeding.
Although your family may want the best for you, they may not be aware of what is best. Giving your family an explanation of your reasons for wanting to breastfeed early on can help give your loved ones time to accept and support your decision when the time comes. You can describe breastfeeding as a way to help strengthen your baby’s immune system and as a way to improve your own health. For example, breastfeeding lowers your risk of breast or ovarian cancer. You can also explain that breastfeeding simply helps you bond with your baby.
You may want to discuss your decision to breastfeed with your family while you are still pregnant so you can prepare them and prevent surprise. There are many ways you can start this discussion. If you have created or will create a birth plan, you can add in your intention to breastfeed and share the plan with close family members.
Listening to family members voice their opinions against breastfeeding can be hurtful. It is important to explain to your family that this is a personal decision that you believe is best for you and your baby. Some examples of ways to address unwanted opinions include: “You do not have to agree with my decision to breastfeed, but you do need to respect it” or “This feels right for me and is what works for my family”. You can also gear the conversation away from breastfeeding by changing the topic. It also may be helpful to go into a separate room away from your family to breastfeed. Some women find it helpful to bring close family members to doctor appointments, so they can hear the benefits of breastfeeding from an expert.
If your family wants to support you during the postpartum period, you can involve them by assigning chores not related to feeding. Cooking, cleaning, and errands are all practical tasks that can both support you and provide your family with a sense of control during this time. You can involve your partner in feedings and diaper changes. You can involve your older children by having them perform simple tasks such as providing you a glass of water or snack while you are breastfeeding, as it is important for you to stay nourished and hydrated.
If your family does not support breastfeeding, it is important to find breastfeeding support elsewhere. Breastfeeding support groups are a great way to gain this support. A health educator at the hospital where you deliver can provide information on local support groups. La Leche League International also offers support groups. It can also be helpful to turn to friends for support, even if they themselves have not breastfed.
Georgia Breastfeeding Support Resources:
- Breastfeed Atlanta. 50 Plaza Way, Suite E, Marietta, GA 30060. (404)-454-9715. https://breastfeedatlantallc.com/marietta-lactation-consultant. “Better Breastfeeding Group Class Series”: peer-to-peer and clinical support classes.
- Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere. 3035 Stone Mountain St., Suite 1076, Lithonia, Ga. 30058. 404-719-4297. www.breastfeedingrose.org. Support, advocacy, and empowerment of breastfeeding African-American women. Hosts regular breastfeeding circles and breastfeeding clubs.
- DeKalb Medical Baby Talk Support Group. The Women’s and Surgery Center room 3040, 2701 North Decatur Road, Decatur, Ga. 30033. 404-501-WELL. www.dekalbmedical.org. Mother-to-mother style breastfeeding support group led by a certified lactation consultant.
- North Georgia Breastfeeding Center and Wellness. 107 Colony Park Drive, Unit 700, Cumming, Ga. 30040. 678-965-0103. www.northgeorgiabreastfeedingcenter.com. Hosts breastfeeding support groups.
- Breastfeed Atlanta–Midtown Breastfeeding Center. 1 Baltimore Place NW Suite #160, Atlanta GA 30308. (404)-454-9715. https://breastfeedatlantallc.com/atlanta-lactation-consultant. “Better Breastfeeding Group Class Series”: peer-to-peer and clinical support classes.
- Breastfeed Atlanta–Roswell Breastfeeding Center. 408 S Atlanta St, Unit 155, Roswell, GA 30075. (404)-454-9715. https://breastfeedatlantallc.com/roswell-lactation-consultant. “Better Breastfeeding Group Class Series”.
- La Leche League of Georgia. Locate a location near you on their website http://www.lllofga.org/find-a-meeting.html. (404)-681-6342. Round table discussions and encouragement from other breastfeeding mothers. Education for breastfeeding women.
- ZipMilk is a place to search for lactation support specialists throughout Georgia. You can find providers, classes, free support groups and WIC information by going on their website: https://www.zipmilk.org/
Educational Resources for General Information on and Benefits of Breastfeeding:
You can also provide family members with printed materials about the benefits of breastfeeding. HealthyChildren.org has many articles on breastfeeding from the American Academy of Pediatrics which are intended to help families become more informed and provide answers to common breastfeeding questions. The Office of Women’s Health and the CDC Breastfeeding pages also offer breastfeeding information.
- American Academy of Pediatrics. (2019). Supporting Breastfeeding Families.
- Breastfeeding Medicine of Northeast Ohio. (2015). Successful Breastfeeding Depends on More than Just the Mother and the Baby.
- Kelly Sundstrom. (2016). ‘Breast is best,’ but it can also be difficult.Here’s help.
- March of Dimes. (2019). Breastfeeding Your Baby. Feeding Your Baby.
- Office on Women’s Health. (2018). How to Get your Family on Board with Breastfeeding.