For better and for worse, I didn't take a whole lot of interest in conversations about breastfeeding in public until I myself started breastfeeding (in public and everywhere else) almost two years ago. I was always annoyed by people who harassed moms over it, but I would scroll past comments about it until they became unavoidable; like when the comments were directed at me, or at moms I've befriended in various support groups. Now, I've become something of a connoisseur of next-level comebacks to comments about breastfeeding in public, if I do say so myself.
In various places in person, and especially online, I've heard way too many ignorant, judgmental, and otherwise foolish things directed at moms who are just trying to feed their kids. It amazes me that there are so many people out there who feel totally entitled to walk up to others — including total strangers — and tell them how they should use their own bodies and care for their own kids. It almost makes me want to write, "Not your body, not your baby, not your business," on the back of my kid's hat or something. (Ooh, there's an Etsy opportunity.)
Anyway, if you're as annoyed by ignorant meddling as I am, or you're worried about being accosted the next time you nurse your kid in public, or spend a lot of time participating in internet comment threads about breastfeeding, here's a cheat sheet for responding to comments you're likely to encounter. If you're the kind of person who struggles to mind your own business when you see moms with their kids in public, don't say you weren't warned if a sassy mama decides to school you right on the spot.
When Someone Says, “That's So Gross”
"Judging people for feeding their kids? Yes, I agree. That is so gross."
When Someone Says, “Do You Have To Do That In Public?”
"Yes, I do. If I don’t feed my child when he gets hungry, he could be hospitalized and I could be arrested for child neglect."
When Someone Says, “Seriously, Can’t You Go Home And Do That?”
"All people have to eat in public sometimes, thus the preponderance of convenient food options for sale literally everywhere you go in this country. Food from a breast is no less decent than food from a supermarket checkout aisle, or a drive-thru window, or a lunch box."
When Someone Says, “Please Don’t Do That Around My Husband/Male Partner”
"If your partner is offended or aroused by children eating, then y’all clearly have much bigger problems than my breasts."
When Someone Says, “Can You Please Cover Up Your Breast?”
"Is my child’s head not enough of a cover? I mean, have you seen this kid's cranium? It's bigger than most bikini tops."
When Someone Says, “You Know What I Meant”
"No, I don’t. But if you are on a mission to go around covering up exposed breasts, there are approximately 11 million billboards and ads featuring women’s breasts that aren’t needed by hungry children at the moment. Can you please cover them up first? Or, you know, don’t, because visible breasts aren’t hurting anyone?"
When Someone Says, “Why Can’t You Just Pump If You’re Going To Be Out In Public?”
"Because honestly, pumping is the worst. So is doing extra dishes, carrying extra stuff, and wasting free time I don’t have catering to the wishes of ignorant strangers."
When Someone Says, “Can You Do That In The Bathroom?”
"Do you eat in the bathroom? Neither does my kid."
When Someone Says, “Isn’t That Child A little Old To Still Be Nursing?”
"Aren’t you a little old to still be interrupting strangers to ask intrusive questions?"
When Someone Says, "Can You Do That Somewhere Else? There Are Children Here"
"My main responsibility is to the hungry child on my breast, so no. Besides, the only danger a nursing mom poses to children is the 'danger' of showing them that breasts have purposes beyond advertising and cheering at major league sporting events."
When Someone Says, "If You Can Do *That* In Public, What's To Stop Anyone From Peeing Or Whatever Wherever They Want?"
"Milk is food. Pee is waste. If you can't tell the difference, kindly remove yourself from any and all situations that have to do with other people eating, because eww."
When Someone Says, "If Women Can Just Pull Out Their Boobs In Public, Why Can't I Just..."
"...Just stop talking? Yes, please. Please stop talking. Because I guarantee no one's health or wellbeing depends on anything you were about to say in the rest of that sentence, like some babies depend on breastfeeding."
When Someone Says, "You're Just Showing Off"
"Nope, I'm just feeding my kid. When I make gourmet meals for my family and post them on Instagram, then I'm showing off."
When Someone Says, "Do You Mind? We're Trying To Eat"
"So is my kid. If eating around other people eating bothers you, why are you eating in a restaurant? You should really go somewhere private."
When Someone Says, "When *I* Breastfed *My* Babies, *I* Was Discreet About It"
"So was I, until this random hater walked up to me and started drawing attention to the fact that I'm breastfeeding, by making a stink about the fact that I'm breastfeeding."