Look, I know you mean well but seriously, sometimes you’re better off saying nothing at all and just giving out a hug instead. Here’s a handy list of things NOT to say to a breastfeeder.
Please note: this post is meant to be a bit tongue in cheek, a sarcastic expression of frustration when you’ve heard these things over and over and over and over and…
1) “Why don’t you just give a bottle?”
This is the one said to an outrageous amount of mothers by partners/family/friends/HCPs. For some mothers, just giving a bottle isn’t a choice, it’s a last resort. There’s a reason we are persevering with breastfeeding. We don’t want to be told to give up, we want encouragement to keep going. If we want to give a bottle, we will do so without you prompting us.
2) “Maybe they don’t like your milk?”
Are you kidding? Of course they like their mother’s milk. It has been tailor-made especially for them by my body which has grown them for the past nine months. What, you think they will prefer a completely different species’ milk? How about you go have a taste and be the judge? Then tell me the baby won’t like it. No? Didn’t think so.
3) “My kids were bottle fed and turned out just fine”
That’s great, and I’m so pleased for you, honestly! I, however, have chosen to breastfeed. I’ve researched it and made my decision. Your anecdata has no bearing on that.
4) “They’re STILL hungry?? Maybe you aren’t producing enough milk. You’re obviously not filling him/her up”
STOP TRYING TO MAKE ME DOUBT MY BODY. The only person who can tell me I’m not producing enough milk is a lactation consultant. Come back when you’ve qualified and then you can give me your diagnosis.
5) “They are just using you as a comforter/dummy”
Actually, I think you’ll find it’s the other way around and that they would be using a dummy as a boob. And that so called ‘comfort feeding’ is called cluster feeding. It’s important. Baby is increasing my supply.
6) “What? They STILL aren’t sleeping through the night? Giving them a bottle before bed will help with that!”
Do you want to know the real reason they don’t sleep through the night? It’s because THEY ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO IN THE EARLY DAYS. A bit later on some babies do, some don’t. That bottle you are recommending? You are basically suggesting I overfeed my baby with something that’s harder to digest so I can get some extra winks in. No thanks. I’m quite happy rolling over and giving my baby some boob where required. Don’t you worry about me, I got this! Also… I’d prefer to keep that SIDS risk lowered, ta…
7) “If you bottle feed you could leave baby with others and have a break for the day/evening/weekend”
Lets get one thing straight: I signed up for this. As much as I’m feeling tired and in need of a break at the moment, I don’t need to hand over my child to anyone for the day/evening/weekend if I don’t want to. Feel free to come over and have cuddles whilst I take a quick bath but I don’t need a babysitter just yet. My idea of a break is someone popping over and helping out with chores! Not to mention the damage that a ‘bottle break’ would do to my milk supply. No thanks.
8) “What if your milk doesn’t have enough nutrients? You might not be eating enough vitamins… at least you know they’re getting enough vitamins wth formula”
You realise formula tries to replicate breastmilk and not the other way around, right? My body is clever and will hand over all the nutrients to baby before it uses them for itself. Check out the ingredients list for both here.
9) “Maybe s/he is ready for food now”
No, they are not. They won’t be until they are six months old. They appear to be hungry because they are currently going through a growth spurt (don’t worry, my boobs have it covered).
10) “How do you know how much they’re having?”
Hmm… let me just work it out… the answer is ENOUGH. They are having ENOUGH. They stop feeding when they are full up and they let me know again when they are hungry. Plenty of dirty and wet nappies and they are not showing any signs of dehydration. Yup, we’re good. If you really want an amount it’s roughly 1oz an hour but varies with age.
11) “Just give them a bottle, let your partner and grandma bond too”
Guess what, bonding doesn’t have to happen over a bottle. How about they indulge in a bit of babywearing? Skin to skin for your partner? Plenty of ways to bond without involving a plastic teat.
12) “You’re going to have to wean at some point, you don’t want them going to school and wanting bitty”
This one really grinds my gears. Firstly, STOP CALLING IT BITTY (damn you Little Britain). Secondly, it really isn’t any business of yours how long a mum wants to breastfeed for. There’s also nothing wrong with breastfeeding until school age and beyond. It doesn’t concern you. Jog on.
13) “When are you going stop breastfeeding?”
Umm… when my child is ready to stop? That’s all you need to know.
14) “Don’t be a martyr”
You think I’m doing this to get sympathy? That I’m trying to make some kind of point? No, I’m just trying to give my baby the best I can, like all parents are. This isn’t about me. This is about my baby.
15) “Do you not want your life back?”
Yeah let’s just travel back in time to before I was pregnant and live the child free dream!
Oh… that’s not what you meant? As said earlier, I signed up for this new life as a parent. I’m not about to roll back to my ‘old life’. It was boring. That’s one of the reasons I had kids. I’m determined to make the most of every second my child needs me, because it won’t last forever.
16) “Aren’t you worried that breastfeeding will make your boobs sag??”
Well… if you’re worried about your breasts sagging then best to avoid having kids altogether… and ageing. Turns out pregnancy is the main culprit behind breasts sagging. Breastfeeding just makes them look super amazing for longer. There was a study done and everything.
17) “But it’s pointless breastfeeding beyond 6 months”
The World Health Organisation recommend exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months but to continue to breastfeed alongside solids for a minimum of two years. And that doesn’t just apply to third-world countries.
18) “But aren’t you embarrassed at getting your breasts out in public? Everyone can see everything.”
Nope, because I’m not ‘getting my breasts out in public’. I’m feeding my baby. There’s a difference. No, everyone can’t see everything as all that’s out is a bit of nipple and my baby’s head is covering it. Stop exaggerating. Also, can we stop sexualising breasts when there’s a baby attached to them… please?
19) “Oh you’re turning into one of those hippie earth mothers, aren’t you?”
You make out like it’s a bad thing. I salute those mamas! To detach themselves from mainstream culture and connect with their babies in the most natural, instinctual way possible? I’m not worthy of such a compliment.