14 Things NOT to Say to a Breastfeeding Mom
Thinking about making a comment—or asking a question—about breastfeeding to your sister, your BFF, or the lady across from you at the coffee shop? For the love of all the nursing mamas in the world, read this first.
1. Do you think the baby had enough to eat? If I could legit shoot fire out of my eyes, I would've done so every single time someone asked me this. Breastfeeding moms have no clue if their baby has had enough to eat. We're all just working on instinct and a few hours of sleep. Breasts, while amazing, are not transparent. They don't come with ounce demarcations. Babies are equally amazing, but lack the ability to say, Thank, I'm full! So nursing moms are left with knowing for-sure that the baby seems done.
2. Is the baby really hungry again? See above. If my baby is fussy, if she's making that tongue-thrust motion thing; if she's not settling down for a nap, yeah, I'm going to offer her my breast that comforts, soothes and, yes, feeds, her. Please don't worry about my baby ODing on breast milk. It's never going to happen.
3. Breastfeeding destroyed my boobs! That's like losing 50 pounds, turning to your gym buddy—who's working on her own weight loss—and saying, Now that I'm 50 pounds lighter, my skin is a saggy mess! Keep your negative spin to yourself. Also, get your facts straight: It's pregnancy that causes saggy boobs, not breastfeeding, according to a study in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal.
- Related: Celebrity Moms Talk Breastfeeding
4. Would you be more comfortable if you covered up? Ha! NO. You know why this question is the worst? Because it's not a question at all—it's a judgey statement, meaning "I would feel better if you covered up." But guess what? A nursing (or any) mom's first and only priority is her baby, not her fellow coffee shop patrons, airline passengers, or in-laws. Plus, mothers have a right to feed their children wherever—and most states have laws to protect that right. If you don't want to see a mom nurse, here's an easy-peasy solution: Don't look.
5. I didn't breastfeed and my kids are fine. That's fantastic. But if one mom wants to breastfeed (or formula-feed) it has literally zero to do with how you feed your baby. It's simply about choices.
6. Isn't your child a little old to be nursing? Aren't you a little too old to ask none-of-your-business questions? Just because some people are uncomfortable with extended breastfeeding, doesn't mean it's wrong. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that moms breastfeed throughout baby's first year and continue doing so for as long as mom and baby wish. They don't state "as long as your mother-in-law/best friend/lady at the playground" wishes.
7. You should share the responsibility—and joy—of feeding the baby! It's true that exclusive breastfeeding is a heavy responsibility. It can be extremely taxing to be the one and only in charge of feeding. But, broken-record-alert, it's a choice. Moms are aware that bottles, pumps, and formula exist. Pointing out these options doesn't shine a light on a little-known motherhood secret. It simply makes you annoying.
8. WOW! Your boobs are huge! Just stick with the never-miss You look great! All moms love that one. If you home in on breasts, you may think you are giving a complement, but most nursing moms would like the focus, for once, to be off their milk-makers.
9. If you offer your baby a bottle, she'll never take the breast again. That's pure, 100 percent poppycock. Plenty of women feed their babies via breast and bottle. (I did.) There is no rule that states once you start breastfeeding you must do it exclusively. Besides, the lactation pros note that as long breastfeeding is well-established, moms should feel free to introduce the bottle when baby's about one month old.
10. Has your partner tasted your breast milk? Please don't fetishize my liquid gold. If I want to disclose who's sampled my milk, I'll be sure to share on my own terms, likely during mommy's-first-happy-hour post-baby.
11. Bottle-feeding would let you sleep more. Here's the sad and sleepy truth of new parenthood: No matter if moms nurse, bottle-feed or do a little of both, everyone gets the same less-than-adequate amount of sleep, according to a 2013 study in the journal Pediatrics. All new moms considered themselves exhausted.
12. If you're having such a hard time breastfeeding, just give the baby formula! People who say these words mean well. They do. I wholeheartedly believe that. They see a new mom who's stressed out—maybe freaking out—who's struggling to get the baby to latch, who's dealing with cracked nipples and sore breasts. Partners, friends, and parents just want the new mama in their life to feel better. The thing is, encouraging a nursing newbie to give up isn't helpful. A struggling breastfeeder wants to nurse. She wants to make it work. Instead of asking, in essence, why are you making this so hard? Ask her how you can help make it easier? (Hint: Google some lactation consultants in the neighborhood.)
13. Feeding on demand will spoil the baby. Those infants are so darn manipulative with their wanting to be held, cuddled, and nursed so much! Here's the deal: You cannot spoil a baby. Some newborns feed as often as every 1.5 hours. Some go about every 3 hours. It's quite normal for nursing newborns to feed 8 to 12 (or more!) times over one 24-hour period. Spoiled? Nope. Nurtured.
14. You stopped nursing already? Dude. Dude! You did not. Just walk away.