From the moment you get pregnant, the incessant questions start — about your body, your birth plan, your baby, and of course, about breastfeeding. The inquiries don't end when you give birth, either. In fact, in my experience, they get worse. It seems like whenever someone finds out that you have a baby, they have to ask if you are still breastfeeding. I heard this question after all three of my babies were born and hundreds of times, from men, women, other moms, curious strangers in the check-out line, co-workers, family members, and well, you get the idea. I am so done answering it. So done you guys.
Why does it bother me? Well, mostly, I think, because it is so hard to figure out how to respond, especially when the person asking me something so person is a relative stranger. If you say "yes" people generally give you unsolicited advice, or worse, they judge you for breastfeeding, especially if your child is older than a few weeks old. If you answer "no" people ask you why, tell you how sorry they are, or shame you for formula-feeding. So yeah, us moms can't win.
How I feed my baby is a personal choice — and one that involves my breasts — so it's not something I feel like discussing with many people, and certainly not if I am not the one bringing it up. It's really none of their business, and it almost always ends with them asking me to justify my choices. Besides, it honestly hurts when people ask, because for me, at least right now, the answer is "no," but not for lack of trying. As a mom who struggled with undersupply, and who has a baby with food allergies, I couldn't breastfeed even though I really wanted to. So, we switched to formula and haven't looked back. So, when people ask me if I am still breastfeeding, I feel like I have to explain my medical history or tell my breastfeeding saga to a perfect stranger, and it almost always followed by a request for more information or a comment like, "that's too bad," or "you can try again next time."
I am tired, so tired, and not just because my baby hates sleep. So, I came up with a few responses to have on hand for next time someone asks me if I am still breastfeeding.
"Why Do You Ask?"
Why do you want to know? Because, honestly, your intentions will impact my response. If you are asking me so you can shame me, insult me, or give me unsolicited advice, I will probably respond with sarcasm or vitriol. If you are asking to make conversation, I might reply no and move on with my day, but you really should get some new material. However, if you are trying to be mean, you might just find that you are messing with the wrong mama.
As a mom who suffers from undersupply, and has a baby with food allergies, I would rather stab myself in the eye than have to explain my medical history and tell the long drawn-out story of our breastfeeding journey to one more person. Please don't ask.
Here, I'll make you a deal: I will you tell you our story, if you tell me about your last orgasm.
"No, I Prefer Wine"
Sometimes sarcasm is the best medicine. Seriously.
"No, My Breasts Are Here For My Pleasure"
"Why? Do You Want Some?"
I really only use this one when people are being assholes. I mean, there's nothing like being offered a snack to stop a busy body in their tracks. Don't think I won't do it. I am a mom, people, so I am way past shame when it comes to my body or the way I feed my baby.
"We Use Formula"
Sometimes, especially if it's a new mom or mom-to-be asking, I will tell people that I use formula. Mostly because it's flipping awesome, and so few people talk about it. I spent my first maternity leave crying in the formula aisle, thinking I was a bad mom because I couldn't breastfeed exclusively, when it was so not true. Formula is amazeboobs. Seriously.
"No, My Baby’s Allergic"
If I think someone might benefit from hearing my story, or they are facing similar challenges to mine and need to hear someone say it's OK to stop breastfeeding, I will go ahead and tell them the truth. We have got to start normalizing formula as something good moms (and dads) use to feed their babies, and I am glad to do my part.
"What Makes You Think I Ever Started?"
There's always this underlying assumption that everyone has to "try breastfeeding" and fail before switching to formula, and always with their head hanging in shame. That is so messed up. Formula-feeding is a choice, and as equally good a choice as breastfeeding. Besides, no one has to breastfeed. In fact, they don't even have to try.
No is a complete sentence. You don't owe anyone any explanations about why you are or are not "still" breastfeeding. It's none of their freaking business.
Nothing. Just Say Nothing.
Sometimes when people ask me if I am still breastfeeding, and I don't feel like getting into it with them or making a snarky comeback, I simply stare in their general direction, as if to say, "I can't believe you just asked me that." I am not sure, because I haven't checked with anyone, but I think they hear my message loud and clear.
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