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competitive parenting: how to cope?

(47 Posts)
Focusfocus Sun 27-Dec-15 05:01:12

I'm the mum of a 10 week old baby - first baby. He's a lovely little fella. He's EBF and cruising along the 25th centile since birth. Coping, gurgling, laughing and doing mini push ups all the time :-)

I've recently had to deal with very competitive ILs. ILs have from pregnancy advised me about the superiority of formula milk in helping babies gain weight - and been very sceptical of any other feeding method. My lovely DH and I have managed to set this aside but it has been chipping away at my morale because all babies in ILs family are on the minimum 91st centile and this has been repeatedly used to speak about the superiority of one feeding method over another.

Our baby is not on the 91st centile. And my SIL in particular has not let this go. Every time we have met she has compared her baby (who went from 9th centile to 98th centile in 4 months) and ours. Quite a few times I have been upset on the way home. I've found myself weighing him fort nightly or weekly when I really don't need to. I am very aware of weight being one of many indicators and even weights wise the little chap is fine.

Yesterday it came to a head. She came and told us that our baby is very small. If we are sure of his age. She can't remember hers ever being that small. DH pointed out that he's cruising along his 25th centile line. She immediately pointed out that hers has jumped 4 centile Lines in four months and has enough weight for the both of them. When anyone coos over ours saying for example oh what lovely little fingers he's got she says but they're so skinny, someone says he's got a lovely chin, she says mine has two!!

This is just one instance. There are so many DH And I were counting yesterday. But yesterday it was the last straw. Breastfeeding is hard. It's been smooth for me but it is physically demanding. I have no family of my own anywhere in this continent. If my family in law can't support my feeding journey that's fine but to repeatedly run it down or compare babies is beginning to make me look at my own son - my beautiful perfectly healthy progressing little chap - and see what SIL is asking me to see - a too small, too little baby.

Any advice? I'm a very non confrontational person. I also don't speak very much in social settings. Professionally I'm the opposite. Personally SIL especially is becoming someone I'm dreading meeting.

raisin3cookies Sun 27-Dec-15 05:19:28

I'm sorry you are struggling with their behaviours. Your son sounds adorable! Breastfeeding is obviously important to you, and that should be respected by your family.

Firstly, I would suggest surrounding yourself with other breastfeeding mums if possible. There is a lovely cafe in my town that meets weekly with free tea and biscuits to support breastfeeding mothers, address issues and just have a place to relax in the company of other mums. Also, joining LLL helped me through hard times more than once! We don't live in a breastfeeding friendly society, so getting a support network around you is crucial.

I question why your in-laws are so obsessed with large babies. With obesity being fretted over by all health professionals, having a ff baby who gained weight that quickly may not be a good thing? They could be overfeeding the baby, you know.

Also, the centiles are averages; someone has to be smaller, and someone has to be bigger! Sounds like your chap is perfectly healthy on his line. No need to "fatten" him up!

Ignore the punters. You are mum! You are doing brilliantly!

Joskar Sun 27-Dec-15 05:22:28

Stop weighing the baby.

Say to sil: please don't say these things about my child you are upsetting me.

You keep on feeding your way. 25 th centile isn't unhealthy or unusual. My dd was 2nd centile which also is not unhealthy or unusual.

Focusfocus Sun 27-Dec-15 05:31:19

Thank you :-)

DH had a theory yesterday to explain the other baby trebling her birth weight by 5 months. We saw her refusing the final 50 ml of her bottle but her parents kept pushing it back in her mouth saying she won't sleep through other wise. The more she refused and pushed it out the more they kept putting it back in saying no bottle goes unfinished.

Finally she finished it but left us thinking maybe this isn't on demand feeding and thus the repudiate gain?

Either way it can't apply to breastfeeding but I hate how every meeting with SIL is damaging my morale.

icklekid Sun 27-Dec-15 05:31:26

Gosh that sounds so unnecessarily unkind. You are doing great and sounds like your baby is too. I bf until 3 months and was gutted when ds refused and had to ff. He didn't put on more weight and remains between 25-50th percentile. We fed on demand rather than schedule -many mums who do formula from birth seem to be more routine based I've noticed. I think this may be the start of differing parenting styles so ignoring may not be the answer...I hope you can find other friends with young babies so you feel supported

raisin3cookies Sun 27-Dec-15 05:33:57

Oh poor baby - no bottle goes unfinished?! Nobody's hunger levels remain exactly the same from day to day. Ugh.

Hurr1cane Sun 27-Dec-15 05:46:41

Has she been spoken to do you think about how fast her baby has put on weight and is projecting? My DS was FF (he left many a bottle unfinished I wasn't forcing him to eat) he was a very very hungry baby and looked like a mini Phil Mitchell. The midwives commented and said I should feed him less, but he was hungry and I couldn't not feed him. That got to me a bit so I just used to ignore them and tell myself babies are supposed to be chubby (I wouldn't say that to anyone else though)

He's 9 now and skinny with very defined muscles, but he's still got a massive appetite, eats bigger portions than me for dinner but he is always on the go and always eats healthily.

It sounds like projecting to me to be honest. Your baby is fine. We are all different sizes and have different appetites naturally.

I was a big fat baby, so fat my dad had to ur the wooden high chair table to fit in my giant stomach, but my sister was tiny tiny skinny, she's now bigger than me, not far just bigger than me, so it means nothing in the long run.

Chottie Sun 27-Dec-15 05:55:38

Please, please do not listen to your SiL / ILs. You and your DH sound very caring. loving parents

I feel very sorry for your SiL's baby having to finish every bottle. It sounds like she is trying to make herself feel better, by picking on you.

In your place, I would really seriously be thinking about whether I wanted to see ILs / SiL so often - I do not say this lightly - I am a MiL / DM myself. I can't believe the unkindness of some people, they must see you are upset and they are just going on and on. I know it's not MN, but I really would like to send you a huge hug { }. Don't let these people suck the joy from your delight in your PFB.

Focusfocus Sun 27-Dec-15 06:03:34

Oh I'm in tears reading these. Yesterday mil found me upset upstairs yesterday and I told her what it was and she seemed to see it. But on the other hand it's not mil really who's the issue. FIL and SIL are.

DropYourSword Sun 27-Dec-15 06:04:46

Your baby is on the 25th centile. Hers is over the 90th centile. Statistically speaking, yours is closer to 'average' than hers!!

She seems to have a bizarre idea that bigger is better. Forcing her baby to over feed probably isn't great for it in the long run.

You sound like a lovely mum and you're doing an excellent job. Just keep doing your thing!

Chottie Sun 27-Dec-15 06:11:58

FF I'm sorry if my earlier post made you cry sad

Please don't be upset, I do remember being a first time mother too (and my oldest is now 38!) you are doing just fine.

Try to step away from the situation slightly and just ignore FiL / SiL. They have the problem not you, let it be their problem. Just enjoy being parents and having such a gorgeous little boy.

Focusfocus Sun 27-Dec-15 06:17:56

I meant happy tears :-) as in the feeling of feeling supported :-)

Chottie Sun 27-Dec-15 06:23:02

FF - I'm so pleased to hear that smile

TheSkiingGardener Sun 27-Dec-15 06:27:09

So you have a baby who is happily gaining weight and doing so in a perfectly normal way, following a centile line and the health professionals are happy.

Hers jumped up the centile lines and was forced to eat Eve when they didn't want to.

Bigger does not mean better. There is no gong that goes off and prize awarded if your baby goes off the top of the weight charts. You are letting your baby grow in their own time and way according to their bodily needs. I would be quite direct with FIL and SIL and if that didn't help then I would reduce the time spent with them to be honest. You've had a baby, your a mass of emotions and hormones and you need supportive people around you.

VashtaNerada Sun 27-Dec-15 06:49:18

She's talking absolute nonsense. I had a FF baby who jumped from the 5th to 90th percentiles in a matter of weeks and although I was obviously glad she was gaining weight I never saw a massive jump like that as a good thing! Certainly not something to gloat about, I was always quite jealous of those who were able to BF.
You need to avoid them as much as possible and spend your time with people who make you feel good about yourself, they sound dreadful.
Can DH speak to them about it and say he doesn't want them saying anything negative to you about the baby?

hopelesslydevotedtoGu Sun 27-Dec-15 06:50:39

So sorry to hear how your ILs are acting, being a new mum is hard enough when everyone is being supportive, and it must be horrible when they are making these cruel, goady comments.

You are doing the best thing for your baby, you are feeding him the healthiest way. He is growing perfectly. On-demand breastfeeding is supported by medical consensus, WHO, UNICEF etc. Don't let your ILs personal opinions influence your thinking! In parenting, there will always be someone who disagrees with you, and it really isn't worth trying to change their opinion, you just need to disengage from discussing with them.

Saying that, the way they are criticising your decisions and SIL making PA comments, "my baby has two chins", is awful. This needs to stop immediately. I think DH should take the lead on this, and tell his family very clearly in no uncertain terms that they must not make any comments of this nature anymore, as they are cruel and upsetting. He doesn't need to convince them of your point of view, just to tell them that these comments are unacceptable, that you have made your decision how to feed your baby, he completely supports you.

If any more comments are made, calmly say "I disagree, lets talk about something else". If they persist, calmly say you are leaving the room/ going home/ the visit is over. Then DH can follow-up by reiterating that they must not make comments like this.

If someone still carries on, then I would have DH say that you won't see that person as they are persistently acting in a cruel way, and when they change their behaviour they can see you both again. There is no reason why you should keep seeing people who consistently say cruel things to you and refuse to change their behaviour at any time, particularly not when you are feeling vulnerable as a new mother.

It's sad that their behaviour is leading to you becoming anxious and weighing your baby every 1-2 weeks. Sometimes babies' growth stops briefly e.g. if they are unwell, and I worry that if your baby isn't gaining weight one week you will doubt yourself.

The advice to meet other breastfeeding mums is great, if you don't know any locally there are breastfeeding facebook groups e.g. breastfeeding yummy mummies, breastfeeding and parenting support, where you can see that other mums are facing similar difficulties with their families!

Also this We saw her refusing the final 50 ml of her bottle but her parents kept pushing it back in her mouth saying she won't sleep through other wise. The more she refused and pushed it out the more they kept putting it back in saying no bottle goes unfinished. is horrible, force feeding someone is awful, and it sounds like their baby is being over-fed and may be overweight. It's normal for babies' appetites to vary day-by-day, e.g. depending on how active they are, growth spurts, developmental leaps. Does your SIL see a HV, doctor, anyone who is monitoring her baby's growth? Given how she is acting with you, I don't think it is your role to change her thinking, but when she starts boasting about her baby's weight gain perhaps you could say once "have you spoken to your doctor about this, as my Dr said it is usually healthiest to stay on the same centile, perhaps you should get their opinion?"

MI6Agent Sun 27-Dec-15 06:55:49

How often do you see SIL?

What is your DH saying /reacting in all of this? Does he know you're upset? If he's not doing or saying anything make sure you tell dh exactly how SIL is making you feel. He needs to step up here if it is his family.

I'm appalled by force-feeding comment and would not hold my tongue about that if I saw it. I always compare that to an eldery person- would you force feed an elderly person who couldn't feed themselves?

As PP's have said, ignore your SIL.

The whole point of centiles is to measure the likely weight gain over 12 mints out of 100 babies - each baby has to fit 'somewhere' in a scale. For you, 75 babies (out of 100) would be heavier but 24 babies would be lighter. For her, only 9 babies would be heavier & 89 babies would be lighter. No one baby is right or wrong but it allows Health Professionals to see drastic changes in weight, i.e. Dropping more than 2 centiles might be cause for concern.

Centiles are probably a bit more complex than that but in simple terms, babies have to fit somewhere and for your Ds, steadily following one centile is perfect.

BF / FF is a choice for all parents. BF at 4 months is a great achievement when it isn't natural for everyone. Is it possible SIL had a rough BF journey? If so, this may explain her negativity towards it.

Anyone critical of your parenting choices should be met with a standard "well it works for our family at this given moment". You can of course be sarcastic or a bit mean depending on how you feel but saying the above, literally to every comment / remark / snide, she will eventually STFU.

OP - it sounds like you're doing an amazing job of being a first time mum. In your shoes, you don't need to deal with it, you need to block out the negative comments, the white noise but more importantly trust your instinct. You grew the baby for 9 months and he is thriving because you are feeding him. That's pretty awesome IMO and should not be criticised at all. Being a parent is hard enough with having to deal with this negativity. Speak to your dh, tell him that what you're doing works for you and that should be both of your standard responses.

MI6Agent Sun 27-Dec-15 07:01:03

If any more comments are made, calmly say "I disagree, lets talk about something else". If they persist, calmly say you are leaving the room/ going home/ the visit is over. Then DH can follow-up by reiterating that they must not make comments like this.

Crossed posts with hopelessly buy love this ^^ and all of her advice too (hers was more constructive than my ramble!)

NoMilkNoSugar Sun 27-Dec-15 07:19:47

I second finding a breast feeding support group. My first DC was EBF until 4.5 months, but neither my DM or DMIL had Breast fed and I used to get constant comments about giving him water in between feeds/FF being easier. Like you say, my confidence was just whittled away and even now ten years later I'm still working on getting my confidence back. Part of the biggest help I have had, was joining a baby group with DC2 and meeting other BF mom's. They just backed me up and reinforced my beliefs and we were able to share our experiences - and come up with a plan of action of how to deal with the EBF unbelievers. The plan was largely to breathe deeply, look at my DD and she how perfectly thriving she was, let their comments flow over my head, but the main thing I that helped was to repeat in my mind 'bollocks' at them. Not very charitable I know but it made me feel better. But, the baby group just have me the strength to know I was right and that DD was perfectly healthy so just ignore the others.

Of you don't have many baby groups by you, one of the moms at school wears a bright pink t-shirt with 'breast feeding buddy' on it. I presume she is part of a support network, it might be worth seeing if you have something similar by you.

I do wonder though if your SIL tried to breast feed and couldn't and she is projecting her defeat into you? It's not right that she is doing that, but it might explain her actions, in that she is trying to justify herself more.
cake to you OP.

DoinMiFuckinHeadIn Sun 27-Dec-15 07:20:41

Tell them to fuck off. Babies are as unique as people are.

My daughter was a tiny petite thing and my son was a fat boodoof. He weighed at 5 weeks what my daughter did at 8 months. Both of them are adults now with normal bmis.

Fuck what they say. He's your baby and he's healthy . That's all that matters


TheDowagerCuntess Sun 27-Dec-15 07:39:18

I had an EBF baby who relentlessly tracked along the 98th centile, and I was totally paranoid that she was too big! I knew it wasn't possible, as she was breastfeeding on demand, but I was still privately very worried about how mahoosive she was. If I was formula feeding, I think I would have been ten times more worried that I was over-feeding her.

On the flip side, I had a very long, skinny baby before that, at the same time my BF had a Michelin (wo)man baby. They were both EBF, and her DH often commented on how skinny my DS was, and it really used to upset me. But it was only because they were so used to their own mahoosive babe.

Honestly - if you're a mother, you worry. Doesn't matter what it is - too skinny, too plump, there'll always be something to fret about.

If I didn't know better, I'd almost wonder if she was a tiny bit privately worried about her own baby's weight, and all this chat is over-compensating in the other direction. 😉

Mehitabel6 Sun 27-Dec-15 07:44:19

You don't need to be confrontational you just get used to 'smile, nod, ignore'- you will need it a lot in the coming months as they crawl, walk, speak etc. If you feel the need to do more stick with 'they are all different'. Don't give them a way into conversations.

Eminybob Sun 27-Dec-15 07:53:03

I would be so cross if anyone criticised my baby or my way of feeding. Your sil is a twat I would have words if I were you. Or get your DH too.

Some babies are just smaller than others. I ebf'd my DS and he was on the 25th centile for ages, then suddenly shot up to the 75th. I was looking back at pictures of him last Xmas, he was about 5 months old so still ebf and was a right little chubber!

Maybe sil is projecting. Clearly has issues.

Writerwannabe83 Sun 27-Dec-15 08:03:51

My EBF baby was always on the 25th percentile line.

He's now almost two and is still on the 25th percentile line and he has a fantastic appetite.

As long as baby is following the line then there are no problems.

My family, and my IL's were very critical and judgement of my decision to breast feed. Every time I saw them they made a little dig, implying I was making the wrong choice for my baby and in some way harming him. I found it so, so upsetting so you have my sympathy flowers

Duckdeamon Sun 27-Dec-15 08:04:55

This is at least two problems: SIL's competitive parentinh and IL's interference/judgment. Plus ill-informed anti breastfeeding attitudes.

They might well be like this about development, DC's behaviour, education. Their opinions really don't matter! And you don't need to defend your choices.

If ignoring it and letting it wash over you doesn't work, try assertiveness: "you seem to be suggesting that I should use formula / consult a doctor about DC's weight being lower than you think it should be. Your comments make me feel uncomfortable and I'd like you not to make them".

Although your DH should really be the one to speak to them since it's his family!

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