How to deal with an anti-bf mother?

(39 Posts)
Dannilion Thu 31-Jan-13 14:56:28

I'm 31 weeks PG with PFB and have my heart totally set on BF, been discussing it with DM throughout the pregnancy and she seems to have gone from 'you just do what's right for you and the baby', to 'you were FF an fine, don't make yourself a martyr', to full blown 'if you BF on demand you will die of exhaustion/ go crazy and set fire to the house. So I will be giving that baby a bottle for your own sanity, you'll thank me one day'.

She has an argument for everything, ie CB will pay FF costs, I probably won't make any milk because she didn't and the obvious rod for my own back. I'll be finishing off my MSc when DC is 6mo and am hoping I can express and DC will take a bottle and everything will be lovely lala relying on her to take care of DC during those days.

I love my DM and aside from her ignorant, old fashioned views and stubbornness, she has been an absolute rock. Was just wondering what, if anything, I could say, or show her to shut her up make her see that BF isn't a path to complete martyrdom?

PS, I totally accept that I may not be able to BF at all. I'm just trying to have a PMA about it. DP is also 100% behind me BF and has assured he'll do the lions share of nappy changes, cleaning etc.

DontmindifIdo Thu 31-Jan-13 15:05:29

Does your mum live with you? If not, keep her at arms length for the first month, tell her it's because you want to try breast feeding, but if she gives formula that might mean she is the reason you fail and you know you'd never be able to forgive her, so it's best that she stays away as you now don't trust her. That you might not be able to bf, but if you aren't and she hasn't interfered, that will just be one of htose things, if she's deliberately sabotarged it then you're going to resent her for it.

BTW - this is the point when you realise that you have to change your relationship with your mum, it's no longer that she's the mum and you're the child of the familly, now your the mum, your DC is the family child and she's 'just' the gran of the family. It's often very hard for grandmothers to make this move from being the one in charge, the one who's opinion is the one that matters on childrearing decisions, to realising their DD has grown up and is now the one in charge and they are just a visitor.

Also worth noting, anything you do differently to her might be seen as an insult to her parenting skills. If she chose to FF not BF, she could take your choice to BF as an insult to her choice, not just you deciding what's best for your family. I found my mum took the way I raise DS very personally.

DontmindifIdo Thu 31-Jan-13 15:15:47

another thing that might help would be to drum it into her the faff included in making a bottle up now. Point out that you have to do it properly each time as some DCs have died (I believe there was 2 in France, could be wrong, worth doing some research). Say that you have to boil the kettle with fresh water, leave it to cool for 30 minutes (so it's hot enough to kill the bateria in the milk as formula isn't sterile, but not too hot to damage the milk so baby still get's all the nutriants they need), then cool the bottle further under running water to drinking temperature. (Yes, a lot of mothers cheat on this, but don't tell her that, spell out that DCs have died from getting it wrong).

Say that breast feeding when your DC still needs night feeds seems a lot easier, get boob out and milk is ready - that having to be sat up for the best part of an hour with a crying baby getting the bottle ready seems a lot of effort when so long as noone like her ruins your chances of bfing, you could just feed straight away and have milk ready straight away.

(Of course if you do end up having to formula feed, you can get ready made cartons for night feeds, although if your mum points that out, you can explain just how expensive that is compared to powdered formula)

And if she says about the child benefit paying for formula again, laugh and say "oh god do you really think they reduce what breast feeding mothers are given? If I breast feed I get to spend that money on other stuff, it's not just for milk you know!"

(You also might want to look at other childcare options, if she's like this about breast feeding, I can only imagine the battles you'll be having about wanting to give your DC a low salt low sugar diet when they are weaned etc)

thompson369 Thu 31-Jan-13 16:28:33

This is a very familiar scenario!! I'm on DD3, DD1 and 2 were bf for a few weeks then formula fed. DD3 now nearly 5 weeks and ebf, it's just been loads easier this time and I'm enjoying it so have carried on. I would certainly second the points made about night feeding , it's so much easier when they are bf. my mum ff me and isn't a huge fan of bf. you do end up feeding more frequently in my experience, so I'm getting lots of comments along the lines of "it's just non-stop" or "it's never ending"! She's just not a bf fan.
I take what she says with a pinch of salt and have a bit of a laugh about her rigid views on things! For me though it has not been worth upsetting the apple cart or asking her to stay away, I just keep saying to her that I'm happy with bf and am continuing for now, perhaps at some point I'll change things but for now it's working so why fix something that ain't broken?!

WantAnOrange Thu 31-Jan-13 16:43:30

I have a relative like this and I think its more about justifying their own parenting choices. She FF and thats fine, but you want to BF and thats fine too. She needs to sort out her feelings about her own decisions and let you make your own choices.

Be warned, you will gets lots of comments about how your baby wants to be fed all the time, you're not making enough milk etc but this is normal behaviour for BF so get as much info as you can to make a really informed choice. This will give you the confidence to say "I am doing the right thing".

Dont let anyone bully you out of doing whats best for your baby.

When someone tells me "you need to do what's best for you", I reply, "I am" smile

WantAnOrange Thu 31-Jan-13 16:47:09

Oh an I agree with *DontmindifIdo", a professional childcare provider is so much easier. Grandparents are for occasional weekends. I adore my PILs but if they provided the childcare, DS would have diabetes and no teeth! A professinal relationship puts you in control and removes the emotional conflicts.

LadyMargolotta Thu 31-Jan-13 16:50:05

As it doesn't look like you are going to get much practical or emotional support from your mother, I would advice get as much information about breastfeeding as possibl, find an expert eg. independant midwife or La Leche League counsellor, go to NCT breastfeeding classes, because the chances are you will need help to get breastfeeding established.

I know I needed that help, and it was my mother who very quickly suggested bottle feeding. I stuck to bfing and with the right help, got through it, and finally, after a few months, my mother was supportive.

LadyMargolotta Thu 31-Jan-13 16:51:20

And agree, get a professional childminder/ creche for child care rather then asking your mother. Just ask your mum when you need back up childcare when your baby is sick.

I would warn her that if she dares to give your baby a bottle against your wishes, not only will you not thank her, she might find it is the last time she has charge of your child.

that is a shocking threat she made.shock

ihearsounds Thu 31-Jan-13 16:59:33

Some peopel do go crazy though, ok not quiet burn the house down, because of sleep deprivation.. Maybe she's just trying to ensure that you are seeing all sides of it.c

domesticslattern Thu 31-Jan-13 17:02:25

If your mother has ignorant old fashioned rules and is stubborn, I'd seriously reconsider promising she can look after baby from 6m. My DM was so anti-bf that in the end I lied to her about how I was feeding my baby. Rational discussion was utterly pointless. We see each other rarely though.

If she genuinely didn't make any milk then you may not be able to. I am glad you are not setting your targets too high but your DH's support will help you enormously. The statistics for bf success are far higher among those women whose partners are also pro (don't have the figures to hand).

Of course it is impossible to tell whether your mother medically couldn't breastfeed, but I do know three women who can't, like hospital admissions for babies and consultant confirmation of wrong breast tissue can't... and two of them are sisters, with a mother who couldn't either.

Whatever your feeding outcome, remember that your mother probably made the best decision available to her within her circumstances. Taking the opportunity to say so to her, perhaps even thanking her or remembering something you valued as a child, will go a long way towards countering any inferred criticism of her methods.

SJisontheway Thu 31-Jan-13 17:17:15

Just be firm. Say you would like to try, but will keep an open mind if it gets too much. Just so its not like you're completely dismissing her.
A word of advice though. If you want your baby to take a bottle at 6 months, you need to introduce it way before this. Just search for old posts "baby won't take a bottle". Its very common indeed for ebf babies to refuse.
I learnt from bitter experience with dc1, but with the next 2 I expressed every other day once bf was established around 4 - 6 weeks. Yes, its a faff but so worth it if you would like more than an hour or two off.
This may not be a popular view but its my recomendation.

DontmindifIdo Thu 31-Jan-13 17:45:07

If you think your DM might try to sneek formula to your DC, or nag you to let her give your DC formula in the early days when you are shattered and emotional and vunerable, then you will need your DP to be on side to act as a gate keeper. If he has to be rude to his MIL in order to look after you and your DC, then he needs to do it. Don't let her visit for more than a couple of hours in the first few weeks until you are established with what you are doing.

tiktok Thu 31-Jan-13 18:04:15

" If you want your baby to take a bottle at 6 months, you need to introduce it way before this"....absolutely not true.

This is an individual outcome. The posts to mumsnet repeatedly show this.

A baby who won't take a bottle at 6 mths is not a problem, anyway - by that age a cup is certainly usable.

SJisontheway Thu 31-Jan-13 18:21:31

Respecrfully tiktok, I disagree. I would say an ebf baby refusing a bottle is really common, certainly not a rare exception. While I agree cups are fine at 6 months, before this they are a pita. If op never needs to leave the baby's side for the firstsix months then I guess theres no problem.

tiktok Thu 31-Jan-13 18:28:06

Of course it's a common problem - but starting bottles earlier does not avoid it.....!!!

Plenty of bf babies will take a bottle early on, and then reject it later.

There is no evidence that there is any benefit in giving bottles early.

The fact that she knows she didn't produce milk possibly means that she wanted to try and failed, so on top of everything else, she may feel guilty.

She also may be saying, 'I don't know how to support you...' and at the same time wants to help, so in her mind, formula feeding would be the best option.

I think just being up front with her. Don't address each 'issue' as you really shouldn't have to convince her if it's your decision.

SJisontheway Thu 31-Jan-13 18:34:44

I wholeheartedly agree with your last statement. Dd1 had to be bottlefed to begin with (nicu) but later refused point blank. That's why I recommend introducing early and being consistet, offering every couple of days. Maybe not worth the hassle for everyone, but it worked a treat withy second 2.

emsyj Thu 31-Jan-13 18:40:13

I had a crash section with DD and was in hospital for feeding support (DD very sleepy and unable to stay awake long enough to feed for aaaaaages) for nearly a week. My DMum went on holiday the day after DD arrived and proceeded to leave me lengthy voicemails (egged on by my DSis telling her that I was starving DD and 'refusing to bottle feed' hmm) lecturing me on the need to give DD a bottle. I just sent her a single text response: 'Bottle comments not helpful' and didn't answer the phone to her. She did eventually apologise.

Best thing is to just not have the conversation with them. I had nothing but snide remarks from ILs also about my bf plans/efforts, so this time (currently awaiting imminent arrival of DC2) I have said nothing. A couple of weeks ago FIL said, 'Oh you're going to bottle feed this one, aren't you?' and I just pretended I hadn't heard him.

Don't get into the debate. You have my sympathy!

Zara1984 Thu 31-Jan-13 20:05:40

Sounds like she has serious ishoos about this and is trying to justify her own choices. She sounds like a bit of a nutball and very neurotic.

Just refuse to discuss feeding choices with her, whatever happens. If she starts on at you, it's hands up and stop-right-there-please.

I'm sorry your mum isn't more supportive sad that's shitty. But you have a supportive partner and that's the main thing!!

Personally I'd avoid having her round much until after bf is established. If you are having any problems you don't need her negativity!

bonbonpixie Thu 31-Jan-13 21:45:30

Hi. Currently BF DD who is eight months. It's not always been easy and i sometimes feel that it may not have helped so much with sleeping in our case, but I do love it and will most likely continue until she is a year old. I don't judge others who choose to FF (mostly) but could it be that your mother is feeling increasingly guilty about FF you and she is perhaps going a little overboard in defending her decision?

Providing you can BF, and are willing to simply tell you're mother that BF is THE best thing for your baby. It really is. If she won't listen then maybe take her along to a midwife visit.

ilovecolinfirth Thu 31-Jan-13 21:55:59

There is no reason why breastfeeding should make you a martyr. With both my sons it took a few weeks for it to feel fine, but really I find it so easy. I personally would hate having to sterilise and make up bottles. Yes, one of the downsides is that it might take baby longer to sleep through the night - this was the case with DS1, but DS2 has been sleeping through since 7 weeks. X

geekette Thu 31-Jan-13 22:09:03

my experience was that I was quite emotionally unstable after the birth of my pfb. my mil was also of the generation which had little bf support. she came out with similar gems. I kept her at arms length for feeds. I wouldn't have been able to establish bf if not.

I would do that again next time. it is hard to fight any battles in those first weeks. I was able to deal with her later on, at about 8-10 weeks post partum.

tiktok Thu 31-Jan-13 23:48:43

SJ, your experience was just that - your experience.

If you are really wholeheartedly telling everyone what you recommend based on that....well, maybe go a bit more gently with it? It doesn't work for everyone in the same way.

Babies who have had regular bottles from the start may still reject them laer.

Babies who have had no bottles at all ever may still take to them quite happily when the time comes.

SJisontheway Fri 01-Feb-13 06:24:02

Ok tiktok. I'll defer to you better judgement. I respect the advice you give, and I would hate for anything I say to be detrimental to anyone else's feeding experience.
OP, good luck with feeding and handling your mother. Like other posters have said, there's nothing martyrish about breast feeding. Mine took to it without any issues and I found it so much easier for night feeds etc. I really see it as the easy option.

HollyMadison Fri 01-Feb-13 07:11:20

Sounds like she has her own issues about feeding to be arguing with you before baby is even here. Just bear in mind that it looks like your mum will not be supportive so you need to get support somewhere else. I'd just disengage a bit. My MIL is not supportive of BFing and made quite a few passive aggressive and silly comments about it. It just made me realise that she still has issues about how things went for her and, tbh, I felt a bit sorry for her. If your mum does want to help then, rather than giving a bottle, ask her to make you a few meals for the freezer so you can keep your strength up and keep on top of things. Good luck for the birth x

Dannilion Fri 01-Feb-13 08:32:50

Hello everyone, thanks for all your advice smile

Am shocked but glad to see I'm not the only one with a less than supportive mother in regards to BF. I think you're very much right in that if I succeed, she may well view me as "outdoing" her and her parenting style in some strange way. I think she has forgotten a lot of the negative aspects of having a newborn anyways, she is convinced I and my siblings only woke once throughout the night from birth. Which is of course because she FF..I had also never thought about the shift in dynamics and how difficult this may be for her. I don't live with her but until now our roles have been very much defined as mother and daughter, so it's really helpful to think about that too. She FF me within a few hours of birth so I'm not sure whether she actually didn't have colostrum or she just wasn't aware that it can take a few days for your milk to come in. She was a homeless single mother escaping from DV when I was born so needless to say her head was probably a bit all over the place.

I have discussed with DP about her comments re: giving the baby a bottle to save my sanity etc and he got unusually cave-man like protective, insisting that he will be asking her to leave if she 'dares try to parent his child' so er... At least I have some support there for my vulnerable moments I suppose! MIL also BF'ed so I will have someone that gets it.

Also been reading all the topics on here, kellymom, LLL etc which has been really useful. Feel like I could spot A tongue tie from a mile off! Once again thanks for all your advice ladies smile

Loislane78 Fri 01-Feb-13 11:41:01

Hey OP

Congrats on your pg and good luck with the bf smile

I don't know the dynamic of your family but there is a big difference between being assertive and argumentative. If you feel you can, next time your mum starts on this slightly negative track about BF again (and that's what you want) then just say to her you and DP want to give it a good try at least and you'd like her support. Add something like I'm new to it and they'll be lots to learn and I'm sure I'll be grateful for your help and support with lots of things.

This way you're telling her (nicely) what is going to happen whilst also letting her feel she can impart some motherly knowledge on other things. You need to draw a line as if she's like this on feeding...

I'm from a big family of FF - mum, 3 sisters and 4 nephews. I've been low key about it not wanting to appear like I'm questioning anyone else' feeding choices and actually they've been v supportive and asking lots of questions about how it works etc. so she might surprise you smile

GL smile

Tweedledeedum Fri 01-Feb-13 17:46:37

This is a nice summary of why it's such a wonderful thing to do for you and your baby. Pop it on her fridge and the back of the loo door!

milkmatters.org.uk/over-101-reasons-to-breastfeed/

abbeynationall Fri 01-Feb-13 18:35:52

Whatever you do OP please do not give up on day 1-3 when your milk hasn't come and you're doubting whether DC is getting any feed at all. Don't listen to "I didn't have any milk - it runs in the family" ridiculousity.
Once PFB is here I'd make sure I pop my top open and breastfeed everytime she goes on one, till she gets the message that Its your baby and as such, you will be feeding them whichever you want , however you want, wherever you want.

abbeynationall Fri 01-Feb-13 18:46:05

You'll be fine OP you have a very supportive DH. Just don't cave in when your boobs will be incredibly painfull , and PFB will be crying blue murder. Congratulations OP I miss Newborn babies smile

TheBakeryQueen Fri 01-Feb-13 18:48:54

Although SJisontheway, I think your experience is much the same as many of my breastfeeding friends, and mine, and though just anecdotal, that can be the basis for good advice.

OhIWishThereWasABook Fri 01-Feb-13 18:55:38

My mum wasn't quite so ott but she was very very nervous about bfing. The believed it was best back in the day. Once she saw her thriving gd, she couldn't have been more supportive. Hope this happens for you, new things can be a bit scary.

Have a chat with your midwife and find out if there's a BF group in your area. We frequently have pregnant ladies come along to ours, that way they get practical advice before they start and they already know us if they do have any problems.

pluCaChange Fri 01-Feb-13 20:02:04

It's so sad, as it doesn't have to be like this. My mother FF both me and DB, and MIL only bf DH and BIL for a short while. Yet despite having no experience to help me, both have been very supportive, and DM in particular has asked me questions about bf and let me explain at length, all of which might be very uncomfortable and saddening for her. I think they're being normal, but perhaps they're actually beyond angels, for not taking out their own disappointnents on me and their GC. hmm sad

Chottie Fri 01-Feb-13 20:07:28

Please don't feel bamboozled - just enjoy being a mum and do what suits you and your PFB x.

MarianForrester Fri 01-Feb-13 20:09:59

I'd probably just mutter in the sort of way that could sound like I was agreeing with her, then do what I wanted when baby born smile

munchkinmaster Sat 02-Feb-13 07:41:27

This is a very similar story to my mother. She was/is very pro formula and every normal baby challenge (waking, grizzly days, seperation anxiety) has been put down to bf. this means in her mind I have rejected all her advice and in my mind I feel sad that she has given me no advice as we never get past the advice to ff.

I think what has helped me to keep going are DH, that my mum has form for such behaviour (so its a mother issue, not a feeding issue), the fact I'm sure of what I wanted to do and not having any real bf problems. In fact it prob made me more determined as I couldn't bear a story being put together later and retold of how I'd tried but it was just far, far too much for me and she'd saved the day by getting me to see sense and ff.

I think you do as you see best. You will know from experience how to handle your mother but beware your energy for sensitive manoeuvring her may be depleted in the early days. If you have a good relationship maybe explain you want to try, totally appreciate her views but it would mean a lot if she parks them for a few weeks. Explain you need her support more than ever but that rather than helping the feeding advice (which I think is well meant) is getting in the way of you preparing for the new arrival together.

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