There’s something about breastfeeding that somehow encourages insensitive people to spout unsolicited advice. Who knows why they do this?
Perhaps it’s the sight of a mother doing what comes naturally. Perhaps it’s the watching a sweet baby tucking into a meal. Honestly, it’s hard to know.
What we do know is that breastfeeding mums will very, very often be on the receiving end of comments or advice that there is simply no place for. Not only that, these comments are often false, ignorant, passive-aggressive, misleading and/or downright rude.
Let us take you through a few so that, if you are new to breastfeeding, you know what you should ignore.
1. Could you cover up?
For some folk, the perfectly lovely sight of a baby feeding is extremely upsetting. These are often the sort of folk who think boobs are the domain of lasses in bikinis or the bedroom. They have forgotten why boobs were invented, so feel free to ignore. Or even throw a blanket over them while they try and drink their coffee? That could work if you and your baby are fast runners.
2. It doesn’t hurt
During the first three months of breastfeeding, as new mums come to terms with attachment and their nipples come to terms with the super-powered sucking of their hungry bub, breastfeeding may be painful. Beyond that, mums may have to contend with cracked nipples, mastitis or bite-y babies. So if someone insists that breastfeeding does not hurt, when it is clearly hurting you, then you have our permission to bite them. And also ignore.
3. Are you SURE you are giving him the full 25 minutes on each breast?
Goodness me. If you find yourself in the company of someone who would like to a) time your feeds, and b) decide how long you should be feeding for, feel free to ignore them entirely. Clearly you are doing what is best for your bub and no pesky stopwatch-wielding spectator knows better than you. IGNORE!
4. Breastfeeding is easy. You just put the baby on.
Hahahaha. No. Perhaps for some women who breastfeed, it comes very naturally. But for many, many women it’s really not an easy breezy experience. In fact, it can be a steep learning curve which deserves the support of those around the mum in question. Ignore this sort of mum-diminishing chatter.
5. Are you sure your milk is enough? He seems small.
Just because breastmilk is not as visible or easily measurable as formula, that doesn’t mean that that there’s not enough of it. Granted, breastmilk gets the job of feeding a baby done a little bit more stealthily, but it’s every bit as nutritionally (some say even more nutritionally) valuable as formula. Ignore these milk shamers at all costs.
6. I could top him up with formula? You look so tired.
Sometimes family members will try this sneaky ruse in the hopes that it might encourage you to wean your baby and give up breastfeeding altogether. It’s another one to ignore in the knowledge that you’re doing great and they’re being passive aggressive.
7. Are you feeding him AGAIN?!
Feed your baby as often as you like and if anyone comments on it, give them the sort of supercharged-yet-exhausted death stare that only new mums are capable of. Some babies feed very, very frequently while others are less busy at the boob. It’s also worth noting that very tiny babies have very tiny tummies, the sort which fill and empty very quickly too. Whichever type of feeder your baby is, they are absolutely doing it right … and so are you. Ignore the feed counters.
8. Should you be doing that here?
Ugh. These are the people who would have you sitting in a dirty toilet cubicle trying to juggle feeding your baby and not dropping your nappy bag on the filthy floor.
If someone challenges your right to breastfeed in a cafe, train, department store, Centrelink office, doctor’s surgery, bus stop, restaurant, cinema, hallway, lunch room, staff room, supermarket, library, lolly shop, hairdresser, phone booth or anywhere else for that matter … ignore. And of course you could bust out that old chestnut and tell the offended offender to eat their dinner in the loo?
9. I could never breastfeed
This is a sneaky one because you don’t really know what the person is implying. Maybe they think breastfeeding is unpleasant? Maybe they think it’s not good for babies? Our advice is to let them think whatever the heck silly stuff they are thinking while you cuddle your baby and feed on demand. Ignore, ignore, ignore!
10. If he falls asleep on you, you’re creating a rod for your own back
The people who say this clearly have forgotten how babies and breastmilk work. Not only does breastmilk contain all sorts of feel-good properties that make babies drowsy, but babies also need to sleep a LOT in these very early weeks. IGNORE!
11. Isn’t he a bit old for that now?
Oh my goodness. Those ‘jokers’ who rib you about your breastfeeding child being big enough to go to school or grow a moustache … they think it’s very funny to discourage the breastfeeding of older children. It’s possible they have some weird hangups about boobs so leave them to those feelings and … you guessed it … ignore.
12. They can’t be hungry again, they must be crying for another reason
Sheesh. As we noted previously, babies are hungry a lot of the time. But just say they are crying for another reason? It’s okay to offer a comfort feed. Again, this is a good one to ignore!
Bottom line on breastfeeding? It’s not okay for other people to make judgements about it. And there is absolutely no reason to explain yourself to others. There is, however, every reason to IGNORE! So do that.