Many mums have opened up about being breastfeeding shamed for nursing their babies in public, but a mum-of-three has revealed how she’s been criticised for feeding her baby in front of his older siblings.
Irina Naumova, 33, first received the criticism after sharing a snap of her breastfeeding her middle child, then three, while pregnant with her third, and as her eldest son looked on.
“I’m all for breastfeeding but having an older boy standing next to his mum with her boob out for her three-year-old is kind of creepy,” one woman wrote, according to the Daily Mail.
Speaking about the criticism the mum-of-three told the publication: “Some wrote that I must be sick in the head to have photos like this taken, that I shouldn’t be a mother and that my kids will grow up with problems.”
But while breastfeeding in front of an older sibling attracted criticism from some, when Irina shared her story on Facebook group, Breastfeeding Mama Talk, the support she received was largely positive.
“This is our breastfeeding story and it’s our ‘normal’,” the mum started her post.
“I share our version of “normal” captured in this photo of you in the hope that stories and images like this do make breastfeeding, extended breastfeeding, tandem breastfeeding and breastfeeding during pregnancy normal for all,” she continued.
“The female body is simply incredible and we need to celebrate, encourage and support one another not bring each other down. Cheers to that and to normalising breastfeeding in all it’s form!!!” she signed off her empowering post.
Though some might find it odd to nurse a baby while an older sibling is present, for many it is just part of their breastfeeding journey.
“For many mothers and families, breastfeeding is such a normal part of family life that there is no need to do anything differently when nursing in front of older siblings,” explains Justine Fieth, Director, breastfeeding support organisation La Leche League GB.
“For the older siblings to see their baby brother or sister being breastfed helps them to see that breastfeeding is a normal way to feed and care for a baby.”
It isn’t just shaming that breastfeeding mums could struggle with when it comes to breastfeeding in front of older siblings.
Last year Kim Kardashian opened up about little North’s sibling rivalry when the now mum-of-three was nursing younger brother Saint.
Though the reality TV star eventually gave up breastfeeding she shared a couple of the genius hacks she tried to help cure North of her jealousy while her brother was feeding.
“When I was breastfeeding him, she was so jealous I had to get a little milk box and put it in the other bra with a straw,” she told Ellen deGeneres.
“So she would drink and he would drink.”
But there are some advantages to breastfeeding when it comes to also offering attention to an elder sibling.
“One benefit of breastfeeding is that a mother finds it easier to have a free hand and to move around while feeding,” explains Anna Burbidge also from La Leche League GB.
“This means she might be able to sit on the floor to play or read or even chase after her toddler while nursing the baby.”
Anna says that some mothers find it useful to have a special box of toys that only comes out when it’s time for breastfeeding so their toddler also looks forward to feeding time.
“The box can sometimes include new little treats. Having some toddler snacks pre-prepared can also help. It can be a “snuggling with mummy time” too, or a time when a special book comes out. Depending on the age of the toddler, looking at pictures of the older sibling when s/he was a baby and talking about that time and how lovely it is for the baby to have a big brother or sister can also help”.
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