Most Ridiculous Breastfeeding “Advice” Ever

When I saw my breast surgeon for a consultation two weeks ago, she made a startling discovery: I’m still producing breastmilk. It’s been more than a year-and-a-half since I nursed Mason, so I was shocked by the news. How in the world could that be? Truth is, I have no idea. I had so much on my mind during that doctor’s appointment, including my upcoming lumpectomy for a precancerous breast mass and the BRCA test that I chose to take right then (more to come on that), that I didn’t say more than Wow, you’re kidding, when she mentioned it .

(Update: I emailed my doctor as a follow-up for this post and she says: “The breast milk is not a problem, and it’s not related to the atypia [a clinical term for abnormality in a cell]. I see milk leaking more often when women have had multiple pregnancies, breast fed multiple times, but it can happen in someone who has nursed once .”)

Despite the mystery of it all (to me, at least), my doctor’s finding made me feel nostalgic for my breastfeeding days. Although I found nursing to be extremely stressful, I’ll never forget the moment Mason latched on. It was at least as magical as his birth, and it was at that moment that I felt the overpowering love that you hear new mothers describe. Despite the angst that I felt when I wasn’t able to nurse him, I’m grateful that we had that bonding time–and I have serious hopes of breastfeeding success when (if?) I’m lucky enough to have a second baby. On the way back to myoffice after the appointment, I had the crazy (and very brief) thought of What if I tried to breastfeed him again tonight? Maybe it would work!

I live in New York City, and in the short time that I nursed, I felt very supported by most people around me. Because breastmilk was Mason’s first food, and this blog is all about feeding my kid (and yours), it’s a topic that I cover frequently. I follow breastfeeding news and articles to get the latest scoop, so my interest was piqued when I saw a breastfeeding etiquette Q&A on A first grade teacher in Scottsdale, Arizona, was seeking advice on how to handle protests from other parents about a mom of a child in her classroom who nurses her one-year-old at school events “without covering up sufficiently.”

I rolled my eyes at the question and thought, Tell those parents to get a life. Then I kept reading.

In response, writer Judith Newman offered this advice from Patricia Rossi, author of Everyday Etiquette: “Talk to the school ­principal about designating a comfortable, quiet place for breast-feeding. You can then offer the mom use of the room as a place away from noise and germs.”

Maybe Rossi’s suggestion would work. If the mom is at a two-hour open-house for her child’s classroom, for example, then I don’t think it’s unreasonable to offer her a private place to nurse (she might even appreciate it), as long as she has the right to decline. But if she’s sitting in the audience of her older child’s class play then I don’t think it’s fair to suggest she go elsewhere–she might miss her kid’s part in the production.

Then Newman, who is also an etiquette expert, added her own (absurd, in my opinion) two cents: “Of course she could also consider the feelings of others and try to feed her son before or after a school event.”

Really? She must be joking.

When Mason was hungry I never stopped to consider the feelings of the people around me, I simply fed my child. It wasn’t always predictable when he might eat, and there were even a few times when I didn’t have a cover with me, so I nursed him as discreetly as I could, but perhaps someone near me saw too much and was offended. Frankly, I couldn’t have cared less. My number one priority was to attend to my child’s needs and if someone didn’t like it, they didn’t have to look.

I’m all for knowledgeable, informed, supportive breastfeeding advice–everything else should be left unsaid. Please.

Care to share your thoughts?

Photo: Breastfeeding mom via Natalie Dexbakh/

20 thoughts on “Most Ridiculous Breastfeeding “Advice” Ever

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more!! Who cares if someone else is uncomfortable. It would be impossible to accommodate the beliefs of everyone else, especially when you need to nurse your child. It is just totally crazy to assume that a nursing mom or baby that needs a bottle for that matter, should try to feed them around the schedule of an event or dinner out or whatever the situation is. Ugh. I honestly can’t even believe that that comment was print..after editing. I have had so many moments with my first daughter where I didn’t..and really couldn’t I’d I wanted…think twice about nursing her wherever I was or worry about making sure I was all the way covered up. Think about it…at home most of us probably nurse(d) our babies without a blanket over their head. When you try to cover up, baby sometimes gets frustrated and wants to see and have things be the way they usually are for him. I just wish others could understand that. I think then they would be less offended.

  2. i breastfed. i wish my daughter and i had had an easier time of it, but it was hard. that said, as a breastfeeding mom. leave your tits at home. it’s disconcerting to be out at dinner and your sister-in-law starts feeding right in the middle of the restaurant at the table. it’s disturbing when you’re shopping at the mall and some lady is half exposed on a bench outside American Eagle. if it’s such a beautiful, private moment between you and your child… keep it private. just because you have the good fortune to get knocked up doesn’t mean other people want to see your boobs or be made uncomfortable by the suggestion of them. find a room and a keep it between you and your kid.

  3. I have breastfed both of my children. My younger child is 9 months old and I am still breast feeding her. I really appreciate that many public places have family lounges and rooms for breastfeeding mothers to nurse. I still prefer to be in a private area or as private as I can get. But if my baby is hungry I’m going to nurse her wherever I have to. I do have a drape though she fights to get it off the whole time. What really, really drives me crazy is how people can be so bothered about. Especially when girls walk around in hardly any clothes. With everything hanging out! When nudity is all over tv and advertisements as you walk around the mall! Why does that not bother people? There is almost nothing showing when I nurse. Possibly my side, near my waist. How the idea of feeding a baby be so uncomfortable to anyone?

  4. I breastfed my daughter also, she will be 2 next week and I also noticed this past week that I am still producing milk. I can totally relate with you as to your thoughts of could I nurse her again?? It was such a wonderful time of bonding between us.
    As for the public nursing, our society accepts so many unacceptable things I really don’t see the problem with a mother nursing her baby. How many of us are not going to try our best to be discreet? Sometimes it is harder than others especially if it is warm or babe is more awake and wanting to look around. It’s natural food produced by our body for baby. No one scoffs at an animal feeding it’s baby, why is it so unacceptable for a human to do the same. Our society needs to better educate on the benefits of breastfeeding so it can be seen in a different light.

  5. Is it really so difficult to pump some breast milk and keep a bottle or two handy when you and your tot are out and about? Junior gets fed, his food comes from your body, and you don’t have to worry about offending anyone. Is it that important that the kid drinks directly from the tap, as it were?

    (I’m genuinely curious, I have no children of my own.)

  6. I thought it was rude to suggest that the child be fed at home. I breastfed 4 kids and even though I did always feed them before we left home, sometimes they still need to be fed in public. No Mom is looking forward to NIP or trying to be an exhibitionist, but sometimes a baby needs to eat when it is not convenient. I am sure that there are other parents at these school functions showing off more skin than this mother is while feeding her baby.

  7. Wasn’t able to bf my first, who is now 2, so I am thankful to be able to do it half the time with my son. I get dirty looks when my kid is crying in a store, dirty looks when I give him a bottle, or when I’m nursing (as coveed as I can be, pushing a cart, with a 2ur old). So, I’m going to do what is easiest for me, and I’ll try to be as discreet as possible (its uncomfortable for moms as well), but if someone sees my boobs, I bet its not the first they’ve seen.

  8. I’m a breastfeeding mom- nursed my older two and am currently nursing my 6mo old. I know I’m a bit backward; but there are places I feel uncomfortable nursing depending on amount of people and situation. In the middle of church; for instance; I would rather retreat to the nursery or sitting area of the bathroom. I do put my child first- I will not let them starve; but I also try to do my best to be secluded and sufficiently covered. When with a group of friends or family; I have asked if they’re ok with me feeding there; when aroind larger groups

  9. I hit submit when trying to correct!
    Ok; I was saying- around larger groups I try to sit off to the side. I take care of my child’s needs; but I try to be discreet and courteous when I do. I think that’s most (not all) people’s problem with breastfeeding moms- how we do it; not what we do 🙂

  10. (computer keeps cutting me off)
    I was saying when around larger groups; I tend to go off to the side. My kids fed ALL the time no matter where I was so I totally understand the inconvience of people asking us to “put it off”…others definitely need to understand thats just what happens. However; I try to be as courteous and discreet as I can when those times come up- maybe it will help someone view nursing in a better light 🙂 I think thats most people’s problem anyway- how we do it; not what we do.

  11. It really makes me giggle when people say they couldn’t breastfeed, it was just too difficult for them, but don’t feed your baby in public. Clearly you have not educated yourself on what it takes to nurse a baby. You can not skip feedings and keep producing milk. AKA why breastfeeding isn’t working for you probably. In most countries the breast is not a sexual thing. It is a bottle. It is food. America is just over-sexualized and boobs freak people out. Be thankful, I cover up for your sake. If it were for me I would whip mine right out. I suggest none of you boob haters travel abroad.

  12. My daughter is over a year old and still being breastfed. Nothing wrong with how long you choose to nurse. I am now getting comments from folks who feign surprise that I am still doing this. Not that it’s anyone’s business but mine, my baby’s and her doctor’s…still the questions come. As for feeding in public, here’s what I encounter, and I do make full effort to be modest, cover up and/or seek privacy: My daughter does not take a bottle; she has always refused vehemently. Also, she pulls the cover off. If I had 4 more arms to hold each side down it might work. My husband has even had to “stand guard” to help me in this, but he can’t always be around, can he? I get lookers trying to look for something, and I know this because I make eye contact with folks who get too close, and I never look away until they do. Yes, it’s my challenge! I am challenging them with my eyes, to make a single comment, because I try hard but it’s not enough sometimes. I think misogyny is unspoken topic in this society, but if were more openly spoken about, breastfeeding in public would definitely fall under that category! Yes, I said it! There it is. Folks don’t have to look, but they do, and when they do, they HATE.

  13. @tar – One of the best things about breastfeeding is that it is so convenient. When you start packing bottles and milk, you have to worry about keeping it cold and then how to warm it up. Also if you miss a feeding by using a bottle your body knows and will produce less milk. Boobs are ready to provide fresh warm milk on the spot. It’s awesome, our bodies are amazing. I can never understand why people make such a big deal over it. I hardly ever use a blanket because what my shirt doesn’t cover up, the baby does. You seriously see more boob action on T.V. How many wardrobe malfunctions have we seen on Dancing w/ the Stars?

  14. I gotta agree with Jolene, “egsmom is such an ueducated idiot!”
    Makes me want to go sit right next to her and nurse my daughter!

  15. I breast fed all three of my children for a year. My kids didn’t mind the cover once I got a good one. But sometimes it was too hot or they wanted to look around at everyone that was talking. And to pump and bring akin a bottle is a silly request. I never had time to pump. I agree with previous posters. We aren’t providing a peep show, we’re feeding our hungry children. If you don’t like it, don’t look. You see way more boobs and more body parts on TV and ads and just people walking around.

  16. As one of the only parents in our kids 4-H club that didn’t work, I often sat all day at the county fair with not just my kids, but several others. When breastfeeding my 2-m0nth-old in a building with no air conditioning, in heat the hovered in the upper 90’s, I didn’t even attempt to cover up. I sat out of the way and was discreet, but I fed my baby. No one complained. And even if they had I wouldn’t have stopped. You have to feed your baby when it’s hungry. Period. The other parents at that school should in fact get a life.

  17. Let me preface my response with the fact that I am a very modest and private person and though I’ve nursed/am nursing both of my daughters, I’ve never been the whip-it-out-in-front-of-God-and-everybody type (Had a SIL, my hubby’s brother’s wife, who I am told, would none too carefully pull her boob out in front of him, any of his brothers, any company, etc!). However, I’m am a HUGE supporter of breastfeeding and feeding on demand. Here are my thoughts and solution to the situation at hand. Firstly, I can understand the other parents’ frustration with this mom if she is in fact whipping her breast out in front of their 6-7 year old sons/daughters. I’m all for nurse-when/where-you-need-to, but in front of other people’s children especially you should be careful and modest about it. Many children at that age have NEVER been exposed to bf and have NO understanding as to why a grown woman would think its okay to be naked in public, and to them that’s what a quick flash of boob amounts to. I know, I have nephews and nieces who know that I nurse and what that generally means, but they don’t see it in action because they are being raised to know that you shouldn’t be naked in front of people, especially if they are of the opposite gender. What I recommend to other nursing mothers is to 1, always have a game plan when you leave the house, know where you will nurse if the need arises while you are at each location you plan to visit 2, ALWAYS keep a cover of some sort in the diaper bag (I recommend a sarong bathing suit cover-up, they are thin, large, fold up really small and can be used for about a million other things as well!). I’m not a prude, I promise, but even I have very little desire to see another mom’s boobs. I also don’t want my husband or nephews to see them. Because like it or not, to males, boobs are sexual whether that male is 6, 16 or 60! I don’t think that she shouldn’t nurse at school events, or that she should even leave the room, I do think that she knows that she’s going to the school and she should pack a cover-up! The baby might not like it, mine don’t, but they will nurse that way, at least in my experience. Still there will be those who will be all offended just because they know what you(she) are(is) doing, even if they don’t see a thing, and that type can bite me.

  18. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading everyone’s comments. Before I add my own cents, I just want to say that I nursed my second daughter for about 5 weeks and due to complications had to stop. I am a very discreet and private person. With that said, I don’t think there are many mothers out there who don’t try to be discreet. Some babies are difficult and some mothers (especially when it’s their first experience with nursing) have difficulty manuvering their baby and items. I don’t think any mom goes out thinking, “I’ll just give anyone looking a peep show while I’m feeding my baby.” My daughter had trouble latching the entire time I nursed her so I had to use a nipple shield with every feeding. Let me be clear with those who have never had this experience–it is EXTREMLY difficult to be completely discreet when using one. Your child cannot be as close when latching making it that much more difficult. And forget trying to keep a blanket or cover up over you while trying to get your child to latch. Trust me, I tried everything and it didn’t work. I tried every method I could think of while at home so I would have it mastered should the need to arise while I was in public.

    I think it’s absolutely lubricious to expect a mother addressing her child’s need to have to go to a separate area just because someone could/would/will be offended. The reality is that the person being offended has the option of moving away, not looking, or here’s a thought–NOT BE OFFENDED. It’s not that difficult!

    I also want to address the “not being sufficiently covered” comment. What does this mean? There are women walking around in public, on TV, in movies etc. who wear bathing suits and everyday clothes with smaller triangles covering their nipples than a baby’s head, even a newborn. The average newborn’s head has a 14″ circumference which is definitely, even when divided in half, larger than the triangles you see on women’s bikinis. Why is it okay in our society for women to wear just enough fabric or a sticker to cover the nipple and no more but it’s not okay for a mother to feed her child in public? If a person is TRULY offended by a nursing mother, then they need to educate themselves because it is one of the most natural things in the world–all mammals do it. It’s not sexual and that’s where the problem lies. Those who are offended think of it in terms of sexuality, not a source of food. You wouldn’t tell a mother bottle feeding her child to just not feed her baby or expect her to go to a separate area so suggesting that to a nursing mother is just absurd.

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