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Readers Respond: How did grandma react to you breastfeeding?

Responses: 12


Updated August 02, 2010

Breastfeeding support is vital, particularly from grandma. Some grandmas are at a loss for how to help, having never breast fed themselves, while others try to be helpful based on bad advice about breastfeeding. Then there are the horror stories of grandmas who try to force you to wean or are constantly nagging you to give the baby a bottle. Where did the grandmas in your life fall? And just how did they react to you breastfeeding? Helpful or harmful? Or maybe even neutral...

They learned, gradually became advocates

My first baby was born early, 33.5 wks and though my parents supported my choice to (first) express breastmilk for her and (later) breastfeed exclusively, neither had any experience or knowledge to work from. They tried to be respectful of our choices and asked a lot of questions. Over my daughter's first year, my easily embarrassed father gradually became more and more comfortable with my nursing and didn't always find a reason to leave the room. I found that as my daughter grew and gained and so clearly thrived (and was brilliant! :) they really believed that breastmilk was the best thing for her. When my son was born (full term) several years later, I went on to BF him into toddlerhood and I only heard words of support and encouragement. My dad would cut clippings about breastfeeding out of the paper or health magazines and save them for me. I've heard them make positive statements to others about the benefits of breastfeeding. Now, my MIL. That's another story. :)
—Guest Nancy


My own mum was brilliant. She breastfed me and my brothers and really helped me in the beginning when I was struggling. My mil was the problem. She formula fed her children and can't understand why I want to breastfeed. She tries to give me advice which is only relevant to bottle fed babies and makes comments such as 'the thing bout breastfeeding is you don't know how much they are getting' she won't ever convince me to change to formula, but I doubt she will give up trying.
—Guest Katie

MIL Hates It

My MIL hates that my husband and I made the choice for me to breastfeed our daughter. I prefer to feed my daughter in private so she hates that I take our daughter away for a feeding whenever she visits. She hates that we have to be somewhat flexible with a every 2-3 hour BF schedule as opposed to a strictly regimented every 4 hour routine you might have when formula feeding. My MIL never breastfed so the feeding advice she gives is based mostly on her experience with formula feeding and usually isn't relevant to breastfeeding. I am now pumping for some feedings b/c I will eventually have to store milk when I return to work. Even that was a little stressful at first as she expected that I would be exclusively pumping milk and not feeding at the breast at all. She also doesn't like that you don't track amounts in BFing. My MIL hates it so much she even tried to imply that we are under feeding our child to scare us into stopping even though my child has been gaining weight on schedule.
—Guest Sbdd3

She's been great!

My Mother has completely supported me in every decision I've made regarding my son. She too breastfed when so few were doing it and being told harmful lies. She and I grew apart a few years ago, but since my son came into the picture, she and I have become so much closer! Though we never spoke of it previously, she and I have the same parenting style and beliefs. She only wants to support me and her precious grandson and never forces anything on me. I have so much more respect for her now, knowing the opposition she faced was greater than mine. She didn't have access to the information we have today and chose to follow her instincts. I am so grateful. Needless to say, she thinks breastfeeding great. My MIL however....
—Guest Liz

Different times

When I had my first, I was determined to BF. My mom told me that she wanted to breastfeed me, but my grandmother convinced her not to. She did BF my sister for a bit (not sure how long) so mom was glad that I wanted to BF. The only thing she's ever disapproved of is nursing in public, despite the fact that nothing ever showed. She actually bought me a cover four my second baby. My mother-in-law had never said anything derogatory, but she asked questions which I gladly answer. I know that they were told BF was bad and so I made sure to research anything they told me. I am now nursing baby#3 and have both of their support.
—Guest Tamara

Sometimes you just think differently....

When I told my mother I would be breastfeeding she cried. She cried because she had been told that breastfeeding was inferior to formula and something only those that were too poor to buy amazing formula did. She was given shots to dry up her milk and had a 10 day (routine) hospital stay before going home to formula and sterilized (a daily chore) glass bottles. Even though it had been 25 years since I was born she still truly believed that. She also voiced concerns on the time it would take to breastfeed - time taken away from keeping a perfect home and pleasing/taking care of my husband - things drilled in to the hearts and minds of women in the 1950's. She never lost her concern or questioning of breastfeeding the entire time I breastfeed two children - the first for 18 months and the second for 24 months. She would not stay in the room if I was bf, nor would my father. She voiced disapproval of most of my parenting choices from bf to cosleepeing to babywearing to not using formula.

Mil only formula fed

My MIL wants me to pump asap because then she can feed my daughter. She only fed formula to her kids which is her choice. How I feed my daughter is my choice. After daughter was born and in the hospital she had the nerve to ask the nurse for formula thinking that I couldn't hear her... I was fuming. Anyways I'm still exclusively breast feeding. I'm scared to get a pump because then she'll be more of a pain.
—Guest Jenna

My mom was great, his was the problem

My mom was the "whatever works for you works for me" and never had a problem about when/where I feed him. My DF mom on the other hand... well, to start with, I think she was ok with the concept, but was freaked out about how comfortable I was with it. She was "forced" (her words) to breastfeed 2 of her 3 kids (due to issues with my DF getting sick from the formula) and so I think she doesn't understand my desire to breastfeed. She wants me to go hide away to nurse my son. At her house I did, but when she came to visit at my house, I just feed him where ever I was sitting. I did cover, so nothing showed, but she refused to come into the family room (where we were all watching football) and instead stood in the door between the kitchen and the family room. I am hoping that she gets over the "need for privacy" when I nurse, because I hate to have to go and hide away to do something natural.
—Guest Heather

She hated it! But she got better...

For my first baby, my mom HATED me breastfeeding, constantly remarking, "Ooh, doesn't that hurt?" Actually it did hurt since we were having latching problems to the point that I finally was cracked and bleeding and quit. I will never forget her beaming as I mixed formula, as though it was her finest achievement. Then she decided it was time to go back home. With the second baby, she didn't come to stay with us, and baby 2 was a nursing all-star, so everything went fine. By the time we went to visit her with baby 2 for the first time, she was casually explaining to the older one that this is how you feed a baby and it's perfectly normal. I have no idea what happened to change her mind, but I was certainly happy!


I am 55 years old and was seventeen when my first child was born, hippie girl I was, there was no other source but me. My mother was as supportive as she could be. When her children were born breastfeeding was presented to her as something only the poor women needed to do anymore. She secretly breastfed each of for six weeks, "to give us a good start." Such a stubborn contradictive Aries she was. She often said "do as I say do not as I do." She did think I breastfed too long.
—Guest babzc

She was great!

My MIL was great! She had actually breastfed all three of her kids at a time when breastfeeding rates were low. She then went on to become a NICU nurse. So she had a lot of know how as well a lot of belief in the power of nursing. It was a bit intimidating at first wondering if she were going to judge me, but she didn't at all and was really low pressure, just there if I needed her but I always knew she was there and she never did any of the harmful or hurtful things I've heard my friends talk about.
—Guest Sherry

She was supportive, but...

Didn't know anything practical. She had not breastfed me or my sister so she didn't know much. Her advice wasn't really applicable or helpful. At first I found it annoying but once I realized that she was trying but just didn't know what to say or what to do, I was able to articulated what I needed from her and that was very helpful for the two of us. After that she'd simply ask, "What can I do to help?"
—Guest Elise
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