mother-in-law is not supportive of MY choice

Stephanie - posted on 05/21/2009 ( 19 moms have responded )

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I am pregnant with my second baby, which is my partner's first baby. I nursed my son untill he was 21 months old, stopping was a mutual decision at that point. My partner's mother says it's "a bit much" and gives discusted looks when I proudly talk about how long I nursed my first baby. (who is now 10 and super smart and healthy) I am planning on nursing this baby and letting her/him choose when they want to stop. My problem is that my mother-in-law keeps sugguesting that she buy me a breast pump, so she can feed the baby and keeps talking about how she's going to take the baby over night and on outings, with out me. It is making me crazy! I don't want to rock the boat too much, but I am finding it difficult to come up with a nice way of saying, " Look lady! This is my kid, not yours. I will be doing ALL of the feeding and baby WILL NOT be having a bottle, EVER!"

See my problem? I believe in attachment parenting, co-sleeping and all that good stuff. I do not feel very supported in my choices, even though all of my decisions are WELL INFORMED and I have done extensive research into early childhood developement and psychology. When ever I throw out a statistic or information supporting my choices, I am glared at like I am a know-it-all bitch. Encouraging words?

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Bridie - posted on 05/27/2011

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My mother-in-law was EXACTLY the same and still is. I put their attitude down to a lack of knowledge and intelligence and possibly some guilt. My MIL always left her children with other people and never breastfed any of her children and doesn't understand the first thing about breast feeding. Her daughter breastfed her son for the first five days in hospital (after a caesar) then once she got him home my MIL had a bottle in his mouth and her milk dried up shortly after that. That child is now in full time day care, over weight and is CONSTANTLY sick. My MIL told people I need to get my child babysat at 3 weeks old because he would be too clingy and I was starving my son and I needed to top him up with a bottle because he wasn't over-weight like her other four, bottle fed, grandchildren. I was disgusted and appauled by her comments and behaviour but eventually my son rolled over and the others didn't, myson crawled and the others didn't, my son walked at 9 months which at that time his 12 month old bottle fed cousin wasn;t even crawling. He never gets sick like the others and speeks alot clearer than the others and is no where near as clingy. My advice is that you won't need to say anything but "I told you so"! The proof is in the pudding and the pudding should be full of breastmilk. Stick to your guns and breastfeed! breastfeed! breastfeed! And I am pretty sure that someone like that would try to stick a bottle of formula inyour babies mouth the minute your not looking. Just like my son had a mouthful of lollies and cake shuved in his gob, by his oh so caring grandmother, that I had clearly said no to. Goodluck, stay strong! xxx

Leonie - posted on 05/23/2009

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Firstly I would see your local Lactation Consultant or child health nurse and get some professional advice about this, believe me they have heard it all before! It's also important to note that our mothers were taught a very different way about babies than we are taught today. Back in the 70's and even early 80's, mothers were told that formula was best and feeding was regimented into what the matron thought was best (4 hourly feeds). This led to a lot of young mothers not allowed to hold their hungry crying babies (because it would spoil them), and because the babies were kept seperated from them. These mothers became frustrated, angry and guilty. And then when their milk came in, they weren't allowed to follow their instincts about feeding, then they got mastitis, and told their milk was "poisoned". I know, I watched my mother expressing "poisoned" milk into the sink and then put my brother on formula. So a lot of Grandmas today have a lot of residual anger and guilt because of what they were cheated out of, and are probably unconsciously trying to make up for.
If this was my problem, I would have a sit down cup of coffee with the MIL, and a Lactation Consultant or child health nurse, and really talk about what is really bothering her. Perhaps she heard you say something that she interpreted as an insult to the way she brought her child up. I bet it is guilt that is behind her behaviour.
This lady is going to be in your life for the next 30-40 years, so make friends while you can. One day she is going to be very valuable to you.
But I do agree that this is your child, so your partner should support you, and you both need to lay down some reasonable ground rules on outings. Perhaps you can explain it in terms she would understand - would she loan you something that was extremely valuable without some ground rules?

[deleted account]

Leonie, great post!



I think it's definitely a generational thing. Most women of our mothers and mothers-in-law's generation formula-fed, and their doctors encouraged CIO. Attachment parenting might as well be from another planet to them.



I think they genuinely don't understand how breastfeeding could be "best" since they were propagandised against it. Either that, or they can't face that what they did wasn't the best (though it isn't their fault, it was just the culture).



My MIL kind of undermined me about breastfeeding in the early days. Looking back, I think it was her way of dealing with her guilt. She was trying to convince herself about formula, only through me indirectly.



I think also they tend to ease up once they see your child is healthy, growing, and happy. People talk a lot of nonsense when a baby is just born out of excitement, and they're full of enthusiastic (though rarely helpful) advice. My MIL is way less bossy now that my son is 8mo. She's always saying, "He's so happy, you must be doing something right."



I don't lie to her about our parenting choices, but I don't really get into details either. She wouldn't understand co-sleeping and baby-led solids, so there's no point in explaining details to her.



My husband is good at deflecting her questions with vague statements like "this is what doctors recommend now" or "this is current thinking" -- so it's not critical of the way she raised her children, and it doesn't lead to an argument -- it's just a polite reminder that it's been 40 years since she was taking care of a baby.



I count on my husband's support and intervention, because she's his mother, not mine.

Heather - posted on 05/21/2009

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It sounds like she just wants to be needed and is excited about the baby coming. I had a hard time with my mother in law as well at first, she bottle fed her kids with homemade formula- that was the craze then, and fed them every 4 hrs. She couldn't understand that breastmilk is considered to be the best and that feeding every 2 hrs was ok, she must not be getting enough. What I ended up doing was telling her that the dr said breastmilk was best, and that every 2 hrs was fine, and that I could nurse as long as i wanted to b/c that was best for the baby. She also didn't get the whole nipple confusion thing either. Anyway, my way out was to say the Dr said it was ok. It always worked like a charm.

[deleted account]

I know a woman who told her in-laws that she weaned her son at 6 months old, and then went on to nurse him until he was 3 1/2 years old without another complaint or irritating comment from the in-laws (since they thought she had already followed their advice). She chose a little white lie over the stress and confrontation...worked for her, but might not be the right decision for you.



Seek like-minded mothers for support (notice who's wearing a nursing tank at the supermarket or playground, contacts from your birth ed class, attend a La Leche League meeting, etc). Try to find comfort in knowing you are doing what's best for your baby and ultimately your mother-in-law wants the same thing (best for baby).



Good luck!

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[deleted account]

That pressure can be SO stressful, but I agree that she is probably just thinking that you're judging her methods and also that your partner turned out fine, so bottle feeding must not be so bad. :O) My husband and I had to stand up to my family about moving when I was very pregnant and also bottle feeding. I know this is a breastfeeding group so I'll explain that I was feeding my daughter breastmilk, but she was in the NICU and couldn't breastfeed at first and the story goes on...Anyway, we stuck to our guns, tried to explain and just did what we thought was best anyway. It turns out my daughter came 6 wks early and botched the whole moving thing anyway. :O) Your MIL will have to come to terms eventually.

Natashia - posted on 05/23/2009

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I am a mom of four and have very proudly breastfed them ALL!!!! (have a 7 month old and am breastfeeding her as well) My first three children weaned themselves off at exactly 12 months...but either way you look at it, whether it be 12 months or 21 months it makes the child much more healthier than most bottle fed children...it also makes them less likely to have colds and things of that nature...As a breastfeeding mom i enjoyed the co-sleeping and all that good stuff...If your partner thinks he won't be included in the whole breastfeeding process, or that maybe the baby won't be as attached to him as to you; suggest to him other ways to bond like burping the baby after feedings, or changing diapers...And another thing....IT IS YOUR BABY WHOM YOU ARE GIVING BIRTH TO...NOT YOUR MOTHER IN LAW'S! SO YOU DO WHAT IS IN THE BEST INTEREST FOR YOU AND THE BABY!!!! With that being said you have my support!!! Don't stress yourself over what someone else has to say!!!

Kat - posted on 05/23/2009

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I don't think white lies or anything that implies you'll do things her way is the answer. If she is like this, it won't just be about Breastfeeding. It will also over the years about sleep overs, discipline, food, clothing or whatever. You name it, she's going to have an opinion on it. She needs to back off & she needs to mind her own business. I do think your partner needs to put her in her place. And have him address the whole issue, not just the breastfeeding choices issue. (Breastfeeding & co-sleeping were most likely not done in her day, she's threatened by your desire to be a wonderful mother & being different to her might make her feel like you think she was a bad mother. If you know what I mean). Anyway he needs to make it perfectly clear that this is his & your home & you'll raise your child his & your way. She has no place to comment or interfere.

Itsamystery - posted on 05/23/2009

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I would just stick to your way of doing things and make sure she gets some contact and feels involved. I would explain to her that breastfeeding is what you've chosen and you don't want to use bottles, but you'll be supportive of her having time with the baby as much as possible around breastfeeding. If she feels like breastfeeding 'gets in the way' of her seeing the baby, she'll hound you to stop and/or pump, but if you make arrangements where she can see the baby regularly, and when baby old enough take him for 2-3 hours, then it minimizes her motive to be anti-breastfeeding. When she talks about having him overnight, I'd just keep saying 'soon, you can, but he's not ready yet', or 'when he sleeps through the night you can but he's not quite there yet'.

My mum was keen to have my son overnight, so we tried it at about 15-16 months and even though he was still feeding through the night with me, he was just fine overnight with her (the plan was that I'd come over if he woke up and was upset). When he woke up for a feed she just cuddled him and said 'it's ok, Mummy's not here. Go back to sleep', and he did.

It's your child and the parenting decisions are yours, but I think it's wise to be diplomatic in how you express that.

Kayleigh - posted on 05/22/2009

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breast is best, bottles are so much work, i know how u feel. My mother in-law keeps insisting on a soother and i dont want any plasic touching my sons lips.

Gloria - posted on 05/22/2009

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So there with you...My mother-in-law does not seem very supportive. This our first child (her 3rd grandchild) but my son is the first to be exclusively nursing. I am back to work now so I do pump but the minute I get home bottles go away. You can understand why...double the work. My son is now 4 months and she still asks me how long I plan on "doing this" Finally yesterday I said until he refuses it. The bonding is amazing. There was one occassion I lost my temper. My advice, if you have a healthy relationship, tell her how critical her support is & the benefits. Maybe a bottle of expressed milk once in a while won't hurt but also explain that it creates more work and can eventually affect supply. Women who never breastfed do not understand the stress and demands and how the process actually works.

Let me know how things go.

Sabrina - posted on 05/22/2009

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I'm so glad my MIL is the type that likes to spoil and give back. She knows that when they are loder and I am done BF she will have her turn. Until then they are my babies. I am BF my daughter until one year. But I think it is great that other women can go longer. Like some other moms said your partner should really help out in the situation. In my family we have had problems in the past with my side of the family and I would stick up to them as nice as possible, but ther is only so much you can take. I eventually had to put my foot down. They still love me and learned that I do what I think is best for my child. So if him talking to her doesn't get through then maybe you will just have to be firm and straight to the point. Eventually she will come around cause it sounds like she will do anything to see the baby. Good luck.

Sara - posted on 05/22/2009

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I nursed both my children to one year when they could handle cows milk. I won't get into your choice of going longer - I do agree that's your choice. But I don't think that having a little personal freedom is that bad either. We breastfed, but that included pumping and giving bottles of my milk when I couldn't be there - either because I was working, or just getting away for a few hours.

Personally, I would embrace the idea of getting a pump and having a night away once in a while. If your MIL is otherwise responsible and would be a good choice to watch the baby, maybe you don't need to reject the idea (if your only objection is that you want the baby to have breast milk, you can still do that, AND have some breaks).



I also agree that it's your partner's place to help support you in the line of fire with your MIL. If you want to share the research on why you made the choice, that will probably have to come from you so you can be perfectly clear. But your partner can (and should) still back you up in the decisions that you make together.

Melissa - posted on 05/21/2009

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Hahaha I am sorry I am laughing as I used to pretend I had to nurse my baby so people would back off.. These ladies are right your babies your rules..After all she raised her own now its your turn stick to your believes I personally like a pump to have frozen ready it helped when I have my arthritis pain as I have Osteo Arthritis so If I do have to take pain pills I can still give my son milk.

Krystal - posted on 05/21/2009

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I have a great pump. I am a stay at home mom but ended up needing surgery so it was nice. My daughter has had a bottle maybe 10 times in total she is 9 mths 2 weeks. I would have your partner talk to his/her mom. I think it is awesome that you breastfed your oldest for 21 months! Congrats! I am hoping to let my daughter self ween! :) good luck on the rest of your pregnancy. :)

Shannon - posted on 05/21/2009

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Sound like my MIL... she complains how she never gets to see my son, who is 9 months and still breastfed most of the time... she too believes I should give it, but within the last couple weeks is getting a bit better... others I work with also feel I should give it up seeming I pump 3 times a day while at work... however, I deal with the snide comments and remarks and just continue to tell myself that it is what is best for both of us.. and a hell of a lot cheaper... and continue.
What does your partner say?? If he is the same way about it,, I'd say that you need to convince him of your feelings and desires... and then he can go on to convince your in laws. Find some articles on why BF is best... and somehow slip them to her quietly... maybe she will start to understand.
I wish you luck with the whole ordeal, and ope your MIL comes around!

Nora - posted on 05/21/2009

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Well how does your partner feel about your decision to breastfeed? I would politely let your MIL know that you feel very strongly about BF your baby and thanks for the offer but I won't be needing a pump.

Jennifer - posted on 05/21/2009

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The general rule of thumb in our house is that we each deal with our own families. If my MIL is driving me nuts I let my husband know and it's his job to deal with it diplomatically...or not depending on what the situation calls for. He can talk more frankly with his mother than I ever could and she'll love him anyway. If I were to go to her directly, when I'm very frustrated, it could be very damaging to what we would all prefer to be a peaceful relationship! :P



I think that's a smart way to handle it no matter what the conflict is. However, it helps if your husband is willing to have the conversation. If he's not and you're on your own, then there will probably be some rough patches. I would suggest sending her some website links or book suggestions that support your choices. Stay calm and try to keep the frustration out of the conversation while supporting your intentions. When the baby is actually here, try to involve her in other ways to keep her satisfied (and because grandparents are important even if they drive us nuts!) while not sacrificing your priorities/principals/child rearing values, etc.

[deleted account]

I know a woman who told her in-laws that she weaned her son at 6 months old, and then went on to nurse him until he was 3 1/2 years old without another complaint or irritating comment from the in-laws (since they thought she had already followed their advice). She chose a little white lie over the stress and confrontation...worked for her, but might not be the right decision for you.



Seek like-minded mothers for support (notice who's wearing a nursing tank at the supermarket or playground, contacts from your birth ed class, attend a La Leche League meeting, etc). Try to find comfort in knowing you are doing what's best for your baby and ultimately your mother-in-law wants the same thing (best for baby).



Good luck!

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