As I mentioned in last week’s post, I have never have anyone say anything negative to me whilst feeding in public. That’s not to say I’ve never had anything negative said to me at all. Just the other day, someone was feeding Zack a bottle of expressed milk and said “Oh this milk looks quite weak”, as well as the comment from someone else “Oh when can he have a bottle? I’d give him a bottle if it was me”.
And that got me thinking. There are lots of posts this week about breastfeeding support and where to get it, so I didn’t want to duplicate that. I thought I would look at things from a different angle, and took to Facebook to ask friends what negative things have been said to them in a bid to educate people what NOT to say to a breastfeeding mum. I was actually quite shocked by some of the things I was told.
“My mother-in-law (who never breastfed) told me I was being cruel to my daughter by breastfeeding her and not giving her water (which she wouldn’t take at all) because she was always thirsty. I tried to explain she was crying because of colic not because she was thirsty and wouldn’t take water and that the foremilk is designed to quench their thirst and the hindmilk to satisfy their hunger but it was like talking to…well a moron really.”
“It winds me up something rotten the comments I get when I breastfeed in public and refuse to inconvenience myself by hiding away. The other week I breastfed on the bus and one guy shouted out ‘oh my god is she actually tit feeding her baby on the bus’ which was met by other mutterings of ‘ewww’ or ‘gross’ under their breaths. I won’t let people like them stop me but it does wind me up”
“Do you have to do that here?”
“My mother-in-law told me I was selfish for breastfeeding because apparently its a dads right to be able to feed his daughter and to decide if they should be bottle fed or not.”
- “Are you sure he’s getting enough milk?
- Are you sure your milk is nutritious enough?
- I think he’s feeding too often / little / long / short.
- You should top up with formula!
- Do you want me to go buy some formula?
- Why don’t you just top up with formula you’ll get more sleep / break / time
- He/ she looks small. You should top up with formula.
- You look tired. You should top up with formula.
- Your nipples are sore? Top up with formula!
- I don’t know why you bother when you could feed him formula.
- What? He’s feeding again?? You should give him formula!
- Formula fed babies sleep more!
- I WANT to hold/ cuddle/ feed the baby but YOU’re breast feeding him all the time.
- He’s crying because he’s not getting enough milk / it’s not nutritious enough.
- Can’t you put something over the babies head?
- There is no benefit in breastfeeding after 6 months.
- After a certain age it’s more for the mother than for the child.
- Can’t you go face a wall / sit in the bathroom / toilet / dark hidey hole / stuffy changing room …
- Isn’t he/ she too old / big for that.
- Mothers who breast feed after a certain age get enjoyment out of it ( hint pedophilia )
- You’re preventing dad from having a relationship with his child because you’re breastfeeding
- You’re fostering separation anxiety
- He only wants you for your milk
- It’s your fault he doesn’t want to come to me”
“My only negative experience was when I had my son and the nurse tried to force him to feed by grabbing my boob and his head forcing him to feed. He still refused to latch until he was ready but it made me feel like crap and since then I always follow my gut instinct and not what they say,they don’t know everything!”
“For me it was the pressure to do it, I really wanted to but struggled. I feel like focus should be put on the positives of breastfeeding rather than the negatives of formula as I felt like a failure when it didn’t work out as I hoped it would and have spoken to lots of friends who have felt the same”
“I really wanted to do it, I managed to express while she was in hospital and did a mix of breast, expressed and formula for about 3 or 4 weeks. I found the midwives and my health visitors were really supportive of me breastfeeding and when I gave up. I honestly don’t think I’d try to breastfeed next time round though. In my case I’m sure some of the problems were down to her being premature”
“I felt with my youngest that everyone telling me she would sleep better if I gave her formula was really really annoying especially as I was exhausted and irritable anyway! I’m not 100% I would breast feed our next baby even though I enjoyed feeding both of my girls purely because I struggled so much with not having more than 4 hours sleep in one go for about 7 months”
“I really wanted to breastfeed and really tried but she just wouldn’t latch on, I felt horrible giving her formula but really had no choice”
Some of the things that people have had said to them have really shocked me. It amazes me how people think they have the right to make that decision for you, or make you feel bad for the decision that you have made. Being a new mum is difficult enough without others trying to make you feel bad.
I would also like to say that there is plenty of support out there for you if you feel you need it.
Thank you for reading. Please complete the following to enter the competition for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Grand Prize:
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