Even though women have been breastfeeding since the dawn of time, much of society has developed an "ick" factor around it. We've managed to sexualize breasts to the point that a woman providing sustenance for her child is seen as indecent. It's freaking ridiculous, you guys. The decision to breastfeed is yet another example of "my body, my choice," which is why there are certain things you don't get to ask me when I'm breastfeeding. Well, I guess you can, but just know that I will straight up eat your face.
Before I even had my baby, complete strangers asked me if I was planning to breastfeed. Excuse me, but I'm getting a call from my friend Nunya. As in, Nunya Business. After reading the baby books, I'd decided to exclusively breastfeed for one year. Once my sweet cherub arrived, however, breastfeeding was anything but easy. I struggled to get her to latch without a nipple shield, and I damaged my supply with early formula supplementation. Most of the time, I was too flustered to have an actual conversation while I was trying to feed her. Like, I'd love to talk to you about the Paris climate agreement, but right now I'm trying to figure out how to grow more hands.
Nursing moms are too damn busy to be preoccupied with the stigma around breastfeeding. So if your friend, or even a stranger, pops her boob out to feed her kid, make sure these questions don't pass your lips:
"Aren't You Embarrassed?"
Um, no. I'm not embarrassed that I'm feeding my baby from my body. I'm not embarrassed that I'm providing my child with the best nutrition possible. I'm not embarrassed that my breasts are doing the job they were designed to do. I'm definitely not embarrassed that my boob is out. The end.
"Are You Going To Cover Up?
Can you cover up your face? A mother's decision to use a nursing cover is her decision alone. A breastfeeding mama shouldn't have to cover up for someone else's benefit. It's about the degree of modesty that makes her comfortable.
Personally, I chose to use a cover in public, but I basically walked around naked from the waist up for my first several weeks postpartum.
"Would You Be More Comfortable Somewhere Else?"
Would you? Because you are more than welcome to leave. I am perfectly fine breastfeeding here on my couch/in my car/at this park/in this Target nursery display. You know what's not comfortable? Nursing on a toilet in a public restroom. Don't make me go all legal on your ass. The fact is, many states have policies protecting a woman's right to breastfeed in public. So there.
"Do You Do That In Front Of Your Dad/Brother/Husband?"
Of course, but that's because they don't make it weird. You know, kind of like you're doing right now. This may come as a surprise, but they all know I have breasts. Also, my baby doesn't actually care who's around when she gets hungry. She just wants that boob in her mouth. Stat.
"Are You Drinking?"
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Easy there, Judgy McJudgerson. It is perfectly safe to enjoy an occasional drink while breastfeeding, as long as you wait two hours before your next feeding session. I am a responsible adult, and if I want to imbibe responsibly, I will. I don't need the Prohibition Police on my back.
"Are You Sure Your Baby's Really Hungry?"
I mean, it's not like I know my own child. I haven't grown her for nine months in my womb and spent every waking moment learning to distinguish her cries. It's not as if breastfeeding newborns eat frequently. Oh, wait. Yes it is. In fact, all of the aforementioned actually happened.
So if my baby is rooting around or whimpering, I'm going to stick a nipple in her mouth. She can feed or suck for comfort — I'm not worried about it.
"Do You Think The Baby Got Enough?"
Well, she is on Weight Watchers and breast milk is a lot of points.
Come on, people. It's not like we have our kids on a diet. Nursing infants eat until they are sated and then, usually, they fall asleep. If they get hungry again, there's always another opportunity to eat. I can't measure the volume of milk she's consumed, but I can tell from all those diapers I'm changing that she's doing just tine.
"Have You Tasted Your Own Breast Milk?"
I know many people who haven't experience breastfeeding are really curious about it, but a nursing mama is not a circus sideshow. Let me clear up a few things for the insatiably inquisitive:
Yes, I've sampled my own breast milk. It tastes like the nectar of the gods. Unless I've eaten asparagus.
Yes, sometimes my kid bites me. Yes, it hurts. Shall I demonstrate on your nipples?
No, breastfeeding hasn't made my boobs saggy. I'm perpetually perky, #thankyouverymuch.
Yes, my partner still finds my breasts sexy. He's a grown up who recognizes that breasts are both fun and functional.
"When Are You Starting Formula?"
If I learned anything as a breastfeeding mother, it's that the last thing a struggling mama needs is formula dangled in front of her. That's certainly not to say that formula isn't a viable, healthy option. At the end of the day, fed is best. That being said, just because it was the right choice for you doesn't make it the right one for me.
"How Long Are You Planning To Keep This Up?"
If people get worked up about breastfeeding, then nothing gets them in quite such a twist like extended breastfeeding. Whatever, people. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding until the age of 2, so nuts to you.
If you're struggling with what to say to a breastfeeding mom, just channel your inner Thumper. Looking for a no-fail comment? Try, "Here's a casserole."