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Criticism From People Who Are Hurting

Today I had someone react badly to a post that was shared from our website (a Member Post about being Unsure About Breastfeeding).  I don’t get a lot of negative feedback about the posts I write, but that’s probably because I’m relatively small-time, and my posts are generally shared with people who have opted, in some way or another, to read posts about breastfeeding.

The post was shared on the Parent Talk Australia page on Facebook – a Facebook dedicated to sharing content from Australian writers aimed at parents) and it attracted a really negative comment.  “Please stop making out that breastfeeding is amazing because not everyone feels that way… I breastfed because I thought it was the best thing for my son but the feeling is yuk and I felt so wrong doing it“.  She said if she ever had another child she wouldn’t breastfeed, and then criticised Parent Talk Australia for regularly sharing positive stories, when there are many women like herself who don’t have positive experiences.

When I first read the comment, I felt really hurt because while it may not always come across that way, I try extremely hard to keep my posts positive and aimed towards celebrating breastfeeding without putting non-breastfeeders down.  To feel accused of something I strive not to do felt really insulting and hurtful.  Besides that, what the heck did she want us to do?  Never ever talk about breastfeeding positively because she had a crappy experience with it?

But as quickly as I felt upset and defensive, after rereading her comments a few more times, I softened.  It sounds like she had an extremely difficult time trying to breastfeed.  It sounds like she had dealt with some seriously negative feelings about breastfeeding, and despite no longer breastfeeding, was still greatly affected by them.  It sounds like whatever she went through was bad enough to make her act irrationally in response to gentle, happy stories about mums feeling good about themselves.

And then I felt bad that I couldn’t even really offer her support.  I don’t know what it’s like to try really hard to breastfeed and not succeed.  I can’t tell that mama she was wrong for feeling the way she did – I don’t know exactly what she went through, but it must have been pretty bad to invoke such an angry reaction.  When someone’s in the moment of being angry and hurt, there’s often nothing you can say to bring them out of it.  In deed, anything I said from that point on, no matter what my intention or how nicely I worded it, would likely be seen as something with an agenda beyond offering support.  There was nothing I could do except let her feel what she felt and hope she had people around to help her through it.

I hope she’s OK.

If you are having a hard time with your emotions after your breastfeeding journey, the National Breastfeeding Helpline’s breastfeeding counsellors are trained in offering a debrief.  You can contact them on 1800 MUM 2 MUM,

 

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