So now that I’ve been nursing for several months, dare I admit out loud that I kind of feel like an old pro. Which is strange considering not that long ago, I didn’t know up from down, right from wrong, the sleep deprivation and constant questioning and self-doubt taking hold. My eyes bleary from all the books and websites I’d read looking for answers about breastfeeding.
But now I feel like my baby and I have got it down. And I’m proud of that. I stuck with it and got over that hump- the beginning part that’s so hard because it hurts physically and emotionally. And everyone is giving you their two cents- mothers and mothers-in-law and other family members and friends who mean well when they tell you this or tell you that but then before you know it your head is swimming with too much of this and that. And you’re confused.
And now that I’m out of the fog and feeling good, I have other friends who are pregnant and asking for my opinion about breastfeeding. And I’m not sure what to say and what not to say. Because when I was in their shoes and received advice- solicited and unsolicited-- it was hard to know who to listen to and who not to listen to. So now I find that I’m censoring myself and over thinking and being fearful that I’ll say too much.
Inside I’m thinking, YES, you should do it! It will be amazing for you and your baby. You’ll bond! It will create memories you’ll never forget. It will be hard at first, maybe even painful, but you will figure it out. And you will be happy you stuck with it.
But instead I simply tell them that it worked well for me but it’s a very personal choice- one that they have to come to on their own because in the end, it should be their decision and shouldn’t be influenced by me or anyone else. And I’m not sure if that’s the right thing or wrong thing but it’s the thing I’m saying because it feels right to me.
First, remember that you're being asked for advice, not offering it unsolicited. Second, handle the request as you might with other parenting topics. Just as you might want to be helpful in telling a friend about an amazing meal you had, a great movie you saw or a vacation spot that you can't wait to revisit, imparting your breastfeeding experience can be a great help to a friend who is asking for your help. Since she is asking for your help you needn't feel like you're giving unsolicited advice. You don't need to be a breastfeeding cheerleader but sharing your general experience will be a great help to your friend as most moms don't make it as far as you have breastfeeding. Chances are you are one of the few people in her life who has even gone through this.
I agree that you should't give your friend advice about how to breastfeed but you also want her to have a happy experience with her baby The best, least harmful thing you can do is to tell your friend that despite some hiccups that breastfeeding has been a wonderful experience for you and HH, and point her towards the resources that you've found helpful.