I’ve seen you a lot lately. I see you wherever breastfeeding women talk about their struggles. You’re easy to spot when you say:
- That looks like a tie
- It sounds like there might be a tie
- I know someone told you that there’s no tie, but I’m pretty sure there is a tie
- All of those problems relate to ties
I admire your passion. Being a mum who’s breastfeeding journey was affected by ties in both of my kids, I know you spread information about ties because you want to save another mama from experiencing the struggles that you have. Your experience is valuable and your message is important.
I see why you are frustrated. People think you’re crazy because you’re always talking about ties. Sometimes people don’t want to hear it. They may have previously been told that ties are a fad. I see this hurts you greatly, because you have experienced ties first hand, and have experienced huge benefits from having ties corrected. It must be really upsetting to have someone dismiss your experience as invalid or simply a fad.
It takes a special mama to do what you do – to try and help other others find a smooth journey while you are healing from your own trauma. Perhaps it’s your recovery process that causes you to feel both energised and triggered when you see another mama who may benefit from learning about ties.
If you find some are not very receptive to your advice, perhaps you need to reconsider your approach.
- Empathise. This mama is asking help from other mamas because she is hoping they will remember what it’s like to be scared, frustrated or overwhelmed. When you only share blunt, factual statements or links, it can make a mama feel like her feelings aren’t important
- Keep it about her and your baby. Your experience may be relevant but let her ask for it
- Empower her. Let her make her own decisions. Give her options and choices. Ask her if she would like more information, or details of where she can find help
Instead of “It’s obviously ties”, try “It sounds like there may be a physical oral issue that’s preventing your baby from breastfeeding effectively, which is creating other issues. Can I refer you to a list of professionals who have a track record of diagnosing/correcting these types of issues?”
“Ties” get thrown around so frequently they become easy to disregard. Using an alternative phrase can get people paying attention, because it’s feels like a new solution instead of something they’ve already explored.
Instead of “Your doctor/nurse/paed/whoever doesn’t know jack shit about ties”, try “As you are still having some problems, would you be interested in getting a second opinion? Can I refer you to a list of professionals who have a track record of diagnosing/correcting these types of issues?”
Remember it hurts to have your experience dismissed. Acknowledge her experience and help her move forward.
Instead of “None of these problems will stop until you get the ties addressed”, try “Your experience sounds really similar to mine. We found a professional who helped us eliminate/reduce these issues and our journey has been much easier ever since. Can I refer you to a list of professionals who have a track record of diagnosing/correcting these types of issues?
While you may believe this statement to be true and valid, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be helpful for the mama trying to work out what her options are.
Instead of “If you don’t get those ties sorted out, your child will suffer for the rest of their life”, try “It sounds like you’re having a hard time deciding what to do. Can I give you some links to information that I have found really useful?”
This mama and her child are suffering. The blame for breastfeeding struggles doesn’t lie with the mama – she’s a victim of misinformation.
Instead of “I’ve told you over and over again that it’s ties, if you don’t want to listen then that’s your problem” then you need to let it go and move on to someone who wants your help.
When we are feeling vulnerable and sensitive, it can be hard to take a message the way it was intended. This includes giving information about ties and giving feedback about the information received. It also includes this post. I write this with love, but accept that it may be hard to read for some. As lactivists, we need to remember that our goal is to support each other to find successful breastfeeding relationships. With a gentle approach, hopefully you will find more mamas to be receptive of your message.
Have you had tie issues during your breastfeeding journey?