My brother has just announced his girlfriend is pregnant and I'm thrilled at the thought of becoming an auntie for the first time
My only misapprehension is that I know that if I didn't talk to his girlfriend about breastfeeding then she wouldn't have anyone else encouraging her and wouldn't do it. I understand that this is not my baby and therefore ultimately I don't get a say on how he/she will be fed but this baby is family, which makes her family, and I want the best for them both.
She is a few years younger than my brother and none of her peers breastfeed. She's only ever seen me do it and considering DS is now a strapping toddler who practically rips my nipple off when he gets distracted by a better offer, I'm concerned that might actually be off-putting! What's worse, she works in a pharmacy so will get discounted infant formula... which I think is so shameful but that's another matter I suppose.
How can I present breastfeeding in a positive way to her? I don't want to scare her off or seem like I think I can interfere in how her and my brother raise their child but I do want to have an influence. I guess I want to be a role-model for her. Does anyone have any experience/suggestions?
How did you come to choose full term breastfeeding? Share that story with her. And share what it's like with a newborn, so many go into this unprepared it may help in many ways. Many new moms are willing to give bf a try for a few weeks, til the first hard growth spurt or til they are going back to work. Encourage at least that much, plus support going on through any difficulties too, because it's so worth it - health, convenience, cost. Don't pretend it's never a challenge, getting started with the first child can be, and pumping can be. It's only pushy if she tries to shut down the conversation and you won't let up. Use personal experience and open ended questions to get her talking with you, don't lecture her.
The breastfeeding support that did the most for me was actually a pretty small thing - a friend gave me some breast-shaped gel packs and a pretty scarf as a shower gift. The gel packs were fantastic for post-partum engorgement, and I used the scarf for everything. It kept my neck warm, and draped over sleeping babies. It was a nursing cover when I wanted one. I knotted the ends and used it as a sling a couple times. DD wore it to preschool this morning.
This kind of practical support was far more encouraging to me then the people who wanted to talk to me about breast feeding, because they seemed to be so focused on Doing It Right that I felt like I was at risk of Doing It Wrong and being branded a bad mom forever.
Thanks for your advice ladies - buying a scarf/sling is a really good idea. I'll definitely do that.
Do you know, I can't really explain why I chose full term breastfeeding without sounding a bit 'holier than thou' about it - I have a strong family history of asthma, eczema and severe allergies so I kind of went in with the mindset that formula was just never an option from the start. (Then when he was 7 months old we realised DS was lactose intolerant so we couldn't introduce cows milk or formula even if we wanted to.)
That's why I want to help her breastfeed so much - although I'd never say it like that to her because it does sound like I'm a smug git giving a lecture. Can anyone help me re-phrase that in better way please?!!
Its true though, I do love still feeding my little man and I hope that comes across to her.
I enjoyed breastfeeding my baby. It was hard at first, but once we got the hang of it, it was like second nature. If you ever want to know more about what it is like, I'm happy to talk about my experience with you. I also like talking about babies, and we can do that too, now that you are having one! How exciting!
You can also just talk about your son's issues in a "heads up" sorta way. Like, "heads up, allergies run in our family. Breastfeeding helped his eczema" or whatever. Let her know you have a wealth of information to share if she wants it, then leave it up to her to ask you.
Cyclamen - my brother had a bad patch of eczema on his face a few months ago and I told him that DS's eczema cleared completely when I removed dairy from his diet. My brother duly removed dairy from his and the eczema disappeared.... it definitely runs in the family so there's a good chance their baby might suffer. I think that pointing out that breastfeeding helped clear DS's eczema (in that it was an 'alternative' to dairy based formula) would definitely win points. It's difficult though I think when its not your baby to strike that balance between sounding like you're instructing someone and sounding like you don't care.
Say congrats on the pregnancy and that you are really excited that your kid will have a cousin!
Then, as a matter of course, you can dump some breastfeeding books on her, and say, oh, these really helped me out. Tell her you know how hard it is to breastfeed with little support, and that you'll always be there for her if she just needs a breastfeeding friend.