My mother wants me to keep formula in the house

This is my first child. I will breastfeed once the baby is born. My question relates to my mother. She feels that even though I want to breastfeed that I should keep formula in the house. I'd rather I didn't. How do I deal with this? I feel if formula is in the house and she is here to help that while I am feeding the baby and problems start that she will say, "Where is that formula? Why don't we try that." Am I wrong in not wanting to have any formula in the house? Please help.

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Having formula in the house can jeopardize your breastfeeding relationship. This is shown in numerous studies on the (promotional) formula discharge packets that many hospitals are still handing out to new moms.

As you said, if it's in the house and something (anything) goes wrong, it's the first thing many parents reach for. These packets of formula go a long way toward keeping the breastfeeding rates in this country at a low level.

It's a perfect time, while you're still pregnant, to begin talking to your Mom about your feelings. You might want to have her over for a quiet lunch and let her know your concerns about keeping formula in the house (and any other issues that might be coming up for you). Remind your Mom that your top priority is to love and take care of your new baby, and if for some reason supplementation would become necessary, you could purchase formula in a heartbeat (unless you live in a very remote area of the world).

I really understand that as a new mom-to-be, your Mom's support can be invaluable to you. You are probably reluctant to "step on her toes," telling her how strongly you feel about this issue. But, this is your baby and you are just beginning to make important decisions as a new mom. You need to be given the chance to make this transition into motherhood without being told how you should do things. You might make a few mistakes along the way (we all do!), but you need to parent your new baby as you see fit. If that means no formula in the house, that is your decision. Stick with it!

Begin to surround yourself with supportive friends and family members. If you find this difficult, you might really enjoy attending some La Leche League meetings. To find the phone number of a La Leche League leader in your area, call 1-800-LALECHE . Their monthly meetings are a great place to meet other nursing moms and learn more about breastfeeding. I would also recommend contacting ILCA (ilca@erols.com) to locate a Board Certified Lactation Consultant in your area. Getting in touch with an Lactation Consultant during your pregnancy will give you peace of mind, knowing that if you do run into any difficulties, you have someone to help you.

Let your Mom know how important she is to you. But also let her know that you need to begin making these parenting decisions on your own. If she's a bit upset at first, I bet she will come around once she sees how healthy and happy her new grandchild is, thriving on your love, and your milk. Best wishes for a good heart-to-heart talk with your Mom and a healthy, happy baby!

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