Social Pressure & Infant Feeding
In our society, the decision for which type of infant feeding is
preferable is difficult enough if it occurred in a vacuum. However,
when faced with the social pressure to breastfeed or bottle-feed, it
becomes overwhelming. Once you’ve made your choice, the social
pressure does not always fade.
Family, friends, co-workers, and complete strangers are likely to
give you their opinion on what you should be doing with your new
baby and what you are doing wrong. Parenting is complicated enough
without feeling that you are a failure. There are conflicting opinions
on how to feed your baby, diaper your baby, and whether to
circumcise. Even if you have made the decision to breastfeed, there
are still other considerations like what age to stop breastfeeding,
where it is appropriate to breastfeed, whether you should pump your
breasts, and if you should breastfeed while juggling work and other
These controversial discussions are enough to make any educated
mother question their choices. Unfortunately, well-meaning family
members may be a barrier to bonding with your new baby. In their
excitement to see their new tiny family member, they may make it
difficult for you to learn the ropes of breastfeeding or have private
time to nurse and to bond.
While these obstacles may seem overwhelming, knowing about
these potential barriers can promote your ability to create a plan on
how to best deal with them. You know your family best of all and who
the offenders will be. In the case of family members who linger, do
not be afraid to ask for help with chores or for privacy. Finally, discuss
ahead of time with your partner if he or she is willing to be the “bad
guy” to end visiting time in order to promote family bonding time
when guests have left.
Most importantly, sit with your partner and make your own
parenting choices. Educate yourself regarding all the options, make
up your mind, and be confident with your decision. At the end of the
day, the choice is between you and your baby.