When it comes to being a mom, the ridiculous things you hear when breastfeeding probably top my list of "things that drive me absolutely crazy". There's nothing like becoming a mother and using your body to sustain human life, that tends to invite the million unsolicited pieces of advice you never knew you needed. In truth, I know that many of the things that friends and family suggest are well-intentioned, but even with the best motives, they're outdated or ill-informed.
When my daughter was born, I had many, many problems with breastfeeding. Everyone wanted to help, and I truly appreciated the suggestions, but a lot of the time the advice just wasn't appropriate for my specific situation. I had a little girl dropping off the growth charts and refusing the bottle. I had to breastfeed on demand during the day, and wake her up at night to feed so she would get extra calories. Sleep was a pipe dream, and there just wasn't much I could do about it.
Both of my kids seemed to react to one or two things I ate or drank while I was breastfeeding, and I got pretty tired of seeing people's shocked reactions, and replying, "Yes, I'm sure," when someone would ask, "Are you sure the baby is reacting to that food?" I'm their mom, of course I'm sure. People commenting or offering advice saw certain reactions my kids were experiencing once (or maybe not at all), while I had seen them five times, or ten times, or however many times it took for me to notice that there was a correlation. It was so frustrating to constantly remind people that I was the parent, and as such, I know my children far better than they do.
And, sadly, that was just the tip of the iceberg. Here are eight equally infuriating things that people say to breastfeeding moms:
"It's A Myth That What You Eat Affects Your Baby When You're Breastfeeding"
Any mom who's ever had a baby who stops being "colicky" when you omit something from your diet will call bullsh*t. Straight up. The arbitrary assignment of "myth" to a real-life experience that a breastfeeding mom is handling, doesn't automatically make that experience invalid. Honestly, it just makes that breastfeeding mother angry and somewhat self-conscious, like she's the only person in the world who is experiencing that particular difficulty (which, you know, isn't true at all).
"You Should Just Stretch Out Their Feedings, So You Can Get A Bit More Rest"
You know what? That's a great idea, because I totally feel rested after listening to my baby scream because they're hungry for 15 minutes and I would totally get peace of mind knowing that my kid is hungry and I'm refusing to feed them. Yeah, nope. So much nope.
"Breastmilk Stops Being Beneficial After Six Months, So You Don't Need To Keep Breastfeeding"
Right. Which is why the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding children for up to two years and beyond, for maximum health benefits for the child, right?! I mean, why would the WHO recommend extended breastfeeding and sighting the numerous benefits, if it wasn't actually beneficial? I don't think deception is the name of the WHO's game.
"You're Breastfeeding, So You Can't Have A Drink"
This is a topic that is very much filled with conflicting reports and studies and unending pieces of advice. Follow your instinct on this one, but for me, I had no problem drinking the occasional beer or cider after checking the information provided to me by a website for breastfeeding mothers that I trust.
"Do You Want To Go Someplace More Private To Nurse?"
Why can't I breastfeed right here? Is it because you think I'll be uncomfortable, or because you're the one who's uncomfortable? Never mind, don't answer that, because either way, I've made the personal decision that I'm going to breastfeed when and where my child needs to be fed.
"I Bet You Can't Wait To Get Your Body Back"
Well, first of all, it's still mine. I didn't lose it and, as far as I know, there's not a single "wanted" ad for my body floating around. Second of all, if you have kids, they don't suddenly understand what personal space is when you wean them from breastfeeding. In fact, they often want more cuddles and touching than before, because they're lacking physical contact they've previously relied on. So if that's what you meant when you said that, it's going to be years before I "get my body back."
"Why Don't You Make Your Partner Wake Up And Feed The Baby At Night?"
Sometimes, babies don't love the bottle and it sucks. Or sometimes, they just want mommy and I'm not going to deny them mom when they need/want her. And that can suck, too, to be honest. Either way, it's not always as simple as getting your partner to take over for you.
"Why Don't You Supplement With Formula?"
No judgment on moms who use formula (like, at all) but if what I want is to feed my baby with breastmilk exclusively, then that's what I'll do, and reminding me that there are alternative methods that I've already decided against isn't going to make breastfeeding any easier.