Friday, August 17, 2012

Are You Breastfeeding?

This is not a post about the benefits of breastfeeding. The interwebs and doctors are full of breastfeeding facts if one so desires.

This is a post about the inappropriateness of strangers asking mothers whether or not they breastfeed.

Such incidences have occurred to me quite frequently. Usually from older women, who clearly are not breastfeeding themselves. For the record, I don't recall ever asking another mother how they nourish their baby. As I point out above, I feel its inappropriate. I try my best to practice what I preach. I try never to judge other mothers period. Unless it's someone who looks like a model, days after they have given birth. But even then, I keep my jealous comments to myself. I am only human, after all.

Anyway, today an older woman in my Mom's condo building rudely asked me if I was breastfeeding. (This was after she commented that my baby is "large" in a discourteous fashion. Hannah is 75th percentile for weight AND height, and therefore is proportional. My pediatrician has no issues with her growth rate, so nor do I).

If we had been anywhere other than an elevator, and if we had not been the only people in said elevator, I would have just ignored her.

Instead, in reaction to her curt manner, I proudly replied, "No."

By the facial reaction of this woman, you would have thought I just told her I killed puppies and kittens for a living. Thankfully I had enough time to throw her a big smile before she finally got off at her floor.

How is it ANY of her business how my daughter is nourished?

So, today's incident is my final straw. I've had enough of being a friendly mom. The next time someone asks me if I'm breastfeeding, I'm going to say sweetly, "That's really none of your business."

Because it's not. It's every mom's personal choice to determine how they feed their child - and we should not have to listen to unwanted advice from people we have just met, or justify our decisions to people we will never see again. Like all other mothers, I decide what is best for me and my baby - I should not be judged by people who have no idea what my situation is or the factors that went into making my decision.

In my opinion, asking any personal question (like breastfeeding) to a stranger (or to be totally honest, ANYONE) is rude - so if they think I'm being rude with my response, my karma will still remain in tact.

And just like I ranted in See See...No Touch!, hopefully any strangers who ask me, "Do you breastfeed?" will now think twice before they ask another mom.

How do you deal with the breastfeeding question?

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.


  1. Such a good post and an important issue more people need to talk about. As a mother of twins I felt that no matter what answer I gave I was judged. At the beginning I was breastfeeding and when I answered yes people looked at me like I was an alien. Then, later when I said no, people also judge, smirked and like you said stared in horror. Thankfully, now that my boys are over two I am never asked about my breasts! But, sadly, people do still look in my shopping cart and evaluate me anytime I am feeding them anything in public. People need to find better things to occupy their time. Being a mom is hard enough as it is.

  2. I can only imagine breastfeeding twins! And I bet too, you get more people approaching you regardless- TWO gorgeously cute LOs are a bigger draw than one! And I'm glad to know it gets a little better once they are older :)

  3. Yeah- I find it kind of weird that people feel comfortable asking this question, too. I think it's just because breastfeeding is such a hot topic these days, but really, you know if they ask you if you are breastfeeding, then what they're really saying is, "I hope you;re breastfeeding, because I'm gonna judge you if you aren't." Anyway, found you on the SITS sharefest this am!

  4. That's so true - they might as well just ask it that way!

  5. Thank you! I do breastfeed and am proud to because it's hard and I worked hard to get it working for us.... but that gives me no excuse to judge others for not doing it, for whatever reasons they have. Heck, I'm a lot more sympathetic to those who don't because I know how hard it is! (And to be honest, a little jealous because I have way less freedom because it's not something I can get someone else to do; my baby won't take a bottle. It's getting easier in that regard but I haven't been away from him for more than a few hours since he was born a year ago and a few times I've attempted to go out and had to come back because he woke up hungry).

    I have had random people give me positive comments because I've breastfed in public (I always use a cover, I prefer to be discrete), which makes me mad because it made me wonder what they're saying to other people who don't meet their approval. What right do they have to have any comments about how I raise my kid?

    One thing I do dislike about breastfeeding has nothing to do with the act itself, but in the fact that if I gather with a bunch of other moms who BF, a lot of them seem to take it as an excuse to feel superior to others. "I was in the doctor's office and there was a 7 day old baby there who was already on bottles. How terrible!" Well, you have no idea what the circumstances were. And maybe there was breastmilk in the bottle. Is it really terrible to make sure your kid is fed? Just because "breast is best" doesn't mean that formula is bad.

  6. This is a timely post for me. Although I am very pro-breastfeeding (nursed my 1st until he self-weaned at 14 months and am nursing #2 who is about to turn 20 months old and is finally starting to show signs of self-weaning), I have nothing against formula. I was a formula-fed baby and I turned out to be pretty cute, pretty smart and pretty funny. For the first time - EVER - at a party a couple of weekends ago, I saw a friend's wife who'd just had a baby three weeks earlier. I don't know what came over me, but I asked "Are you breastfeeding?" and in the same breath, slapped my hand over my mouth and uttered an apology, with "OMG, that was a terribly personal question to ask." I don't know her all that well, and it was so inappropriate. Look, here's the truth: if you don't know someone well enough to know whether or not they're breastfeeding, then you've got no business knowing. And that means you've got no business asking.

    I also want to post a comment directly to Tahlia. You mentioned you're having issues getting your baby to take a bottle. I hear that. My first wouldn't take one until 8 months old (I tried EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT from the time he was 5 weeks old), when I finally got lazy one day, didn't pump and had nothing in the house but a can of sample formula I got from a baby show. I thought, well, he's not gonna take it anyway, but it's worth a shot. And, guess what, he took the whole damn thing. He just didn't want BREASTMILK from a bottle. So that became his nightly routine...he'd nurse as much as he wanted and then Daddy would give him a bottle of formula. He had that nightly bottle until he was a little more than 3 years old! And my second doesn't take a bottle but I never really bothered trying. She drinks from a cup when not nursing. But here's what I wanted to suggest to you so you don't feel like breastfeeding is limiting - so you have more freedom. Nurse using a baby carrier! I don't know how old your baby is yet, but I review a ton of different carriers on my site (, and I'm happy to answer any carrier questions via my FB page (, or any questions about nursing freedom!

  7. Uggghh. How rude! Sarah, I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO with you on this one. I can't tell you how many strangers and distant acquaintances have asked me this and how uncomfortable it makes me. I am pumping so that makes it even more awkward, because yes my daughter is fed breastmilk, but no, I am not breastfeeding in the traditional sense. Then if I tell them I'm pumping, they ask why. Unbelievable. I think next time someone asks me about this stuff, I'm going to ask them about their bowel habits. Because apparently it's fully appropriate to share personal details of our lives and bodies with complete strangers, right?

  8. I remember how shocked I was when I had my babies and any woman I would pass in the street or sat next to on the bus felt the urge to ask me about my feeding preferences. Like there's this unwritten rule that if you have ever had a baby, no matter how many decades ago, it gives you the right to comment, advice and debate any pregnancy/birthing/baby topic with any young mother you come across... I was breastfeeding myself but that didn't make it any less acceptable for me to talk about to perfect strangers. So go ahead, tell them it is a personal question and none of their business. Or better still, return a favour with another question; when they ask: Are you breastfeeding?, simply ask back: Are you still having sex with your husband?

  9. I am LOVING all your ideas - especially the ideas on how I should reply!

    Thanks so much for making me feel supported. :)


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