On Peer Pressure (& Moms)

Do you feel the "bressure"...? We hate that word. We also hate the idea that choices pit mothers against each other, particularly at such a vulnerable time. 

Ever the sensible friend and expert, Nurse Lilly shares some thoughts from her mama:

I recently spent some quality time with my mother, who birthed three daughters between 1970-1980. We talked a bit about lactation, I realized I’d never really asked her about her breastfeeding experiences. I knew she gave my sister born in 1970 formula, because that’s what they told you to do. I knew she breastfed me to the age when my sisters made fun of it. 

It was interesting to find out what made her choose to breastfeed her second daughter in 1974. Peer pressure. She said her friends were very “with it” and she knew she had to breastfeed. For her, it wasn’t about breastfeeding’s benefits or any of the myriad of things we talk about these days. Just that she felt the pressure to do what friends were doing and things had changed in four years. And she said breastfeeding was very hard in the first few weeks, mostly because she wasn’t sure it was working. But then it did work, and by the time she had me, it was still hard but she knew to trust the process. Not in those words. My mother would never say “trust the process.”

The most interesting part of her discussion was not that the peer pressure was a bad thing. It was what it was. There was no impending war of those who did or didn’t breastfeed, it was just the culture in her circle that, of course you breastfeed. Knowing my mother, she never would have judged another mom’s choice in that regard. Never. Cultures all over the world support breastfeeding, not to tell mothers who formula feed that they are somehow subpar, but to show that breastfeeding is the norm.

How we support a culture of breastfeeding without making moms feel guilt or judgment is something we talk about all the time. I love a story like my mom’s, it shows it’s possible. I also just love her. Have family members shared wisdom and experience re: breastfeeding with you?





We love online communities and social media for the support they offer. We also really like pretty pictures. The things is, there's so much under the surface that you don't see - how are people actually feeling? What difficulties are they coping with? Where's the grey area? The range of normal that offers reassurance and deep discussion with experts and people who've been there? 

This has never felt more vexing than as a new mom, struggling with latch and breastfeeding in general... when putting on a bathrobe and just being IN IT all day meant that seeking out support from real people felt like a huge task. In these situations, Google and the digital world are rarely good replacements for expert advice and community. 

These days we're about less fear, more knowledge, and welcome that deep discussion we wish we'd prioritized back in the early days. 

Our Co-Founder, Lilly, is an expert, equally frustrated:

Dear Dr. Google,

Once upon a time I remember asking real people questions. When I was a young girl and wanted to know about an illness or something I’d heard about a sick person, I would ask my Dad because he was a doctor. Or I’d ask someone I just thought was smart. Like my friend Liz. As I got older I refined the subtle art of acting like I knew a lot about a lot of things…until you came along.

Strangely, the more of an expert I’ve become, the more you thwart me. Women with questions about lactation run to you. They find all sorts of conflicting answers or horrible stories and have trouble because they are unable to absorb ALL things. As much as I can offer them an answer based on actual research and more than a decade of experience, they struggle to let your multitude of answers and blogposts and random stories go. Don't even get me started on your advertising and insidious formula company marketing.

I know I can’t hope that you’ll leave them be, but there is somewhere safe to go. Somewhere certified, qualified, and educated. Somewhere they can believe in the evidence based research. Somewhere that has their families’ safety as the first priority, not being right or interesting or famous.

Yours truly,

Merryweather - xo, Nurse Lilly