8 Ridiculous Things People Say About Breastfeeding

There isn’t very much in this world that irks me more than all of the cr*p that is bandied around about breastfeeding. I have lost count of the amount of times I have had to suffer dirty looks thanks to my (apparently uncontrollable) urge to correct people when they say things that simply aren’t true.

So, following is my top-ten rundown of Ridiculous Things I have heard people say about breastfeeding, and my responses to them (out loud or otherwise!).

(I just want to take the opportunity to point out that I am not one of these lactivists that make it their life’s work to make mamas feel bad about themselves. However, I am one of those lactivists who gets very frustrated with untruths being spread about breastfeeding that stop women from being successful in their own efforts to breastfeed.)

Image courtesy of LuisVallecillo @ flickr

1. “Most people can’t make enough milk.”

No, that’s right, they can’t. Goodness knows how the human race managed to get this far without formula milk. *facepalm* Most people who have issues with supply have those issues because of mismanagement of their supply. Yes, there are some very unfortunate women who can’t seem to be able to produce enough milk despite doing everything right, but this percentage is very small in comparison to how many women who report struggling with supply. And besides, even if someone can only produce a partial supply, why not feed a combination of breastmilk and formula, instead of formula feeding exclusively?

2. “There’s no point in breastfeeding past 8 months old; the milk loses its nutritional value then.”

Um, no. The benefits of breastfeeding have been proven to span for as long as the child breastfeeds – hence why the WHO recommend breastfeeding until a minimum of age two and to continue, should both parties desire. True, once the child is eating food they are no longer so reliant on the boob to sustain life, but that doesn’t cancel out all of the amazing immune system-boosting properties of breastmilk, not to mention the emotional benefits.

3. “If you don’t wean at X age, you’ll never get him to stop!”

OK. So how many 10-year-olds do you know who are still nursing? Not many, I’ll bet! All children wean eventually even if mother makes no effort to discourage them from nursing. A mother should only wean her child if it’s what she wants to do, not because of pressure and fear-mongering from uninformed individuals.

4. “Breast milk and formula are pretty much the same these days, anyway.”

I’m afraid you couldn’t be further than the truth. The composition of breast milk is completely different to formula. Secondly, it is individually tailored to each baby and changes hourly to meet their needs, unlike formula which is a one size fits all approach. Thirdly, it’s a live substance, full of antibodies and other immune-boosting properties – formula is artificial and has none of these. Beyond all of this- it’s free, available on tap, prevents disease in mum and baby and promotes bonding. Still think that it’s the same as formula?

5. “But if you breastfeed you’ll be tied to him CONSTANTLY! Don’t you want your FREEDOM?”

Yes, that’s true. If I choose to breastfeed, it will be harder for me to spend time away from my child. But consider this – exclusive breastfeeding rarely continues past 7-8 months, and most children are having some solid foods by 6 months. This will ‘free me up’. By 5-6 months, my baby will be able to use a sippy cup, allowing me to pump milk for them to drink in my absence. Plus, in the US where the women get a really pitiful excuse for maternity leave, women still manage to work AND exclusively breastfeed their babies.

And freedom? I’ve got years left for freedom. This few months in my child’s life is going to pass in the blink of an eye, and quite frankly I don’t want to miss a second of it.

6. “Breastfeeding ruins your sex life. Having a baby hanging off you does nothing for your marriage.”

This has to be one of the most ridiculous ones I’ve ever heard. Children are very good at preventing… ahem… Marital Activities, regardless of whether they are breastfed or not. Most mums go through a period of time after their babies are born when they don’t feel like having sex, regardless of how they feed their babies. If anything, breastfeeding has strengthened my marriage – my amazing husband is supportive and proud of me for nourishing our babies, and his willingness to put his son’s needs before his own for this short time in his childhood makes me love him even more.

7. “Yes, well, breastfed babies are more clingy to their mums. They know they can snap their fingers and have you come running.”

This one was especially worrying, seeing as I heard it at an NHS baby clinic from the mouth of a health visitor (!!) to a young mum who was despairing of her weeks-old baby who was waking very frequently at night. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Babies wake in the night for many reasons, and bottle-feeding is NO GUARANTEE that a baby will sleep any better than a breastfed baby.

8. “Breastfeeding’s great and all, but I would never feed them past 3 months old. That’s just gross.”

There are so many thing’s wrong with this statement that I barely know where to begin. For a start, the WHO recommendation (and the Government recommendation here in the UK) is to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months. The WHO then recommend nursing until 2 years of age AT LEAST. The international average age for children weaning from the breast is 4-7 years of age. I’m not saying that feeding a child for that long is everybody’s cup of tea, and weaning age is of course up to each individual mum and baby. But to say that breastfeeding a baby is gross? That’s just so wrong, and a sick reflection of how overly-sexualised the breast is in western culture.

I’d love to read your contributions to this list. What’s the most ridiculous/ill-informed/plain ignorant thing about breastfeeding that you have ever heard? And what was your response?

Comments

  1. says

    Oh, the freedom thing really gets me!

    Yeah, because we all have babies so we can go out more!

    Any human with even the faintest idea of what is involved in having a baby knows they arent renowned for freeing up your time. And even if a person did chose to formula feed, the child would still have emotional bonds and needs which would (hopefully) keep the mama nearby!

    I really hate (i know its a strong word, and its one i dont use if i can avoid it) this whole attitude of ‘formula is a cure-all’. I dont know how it came about but it really couldnt be further from the truth!

    • says

      “i really hate (i know its a strong word, and its one i dont use if i can avoid it) this whole attitude of ‘formula is a cure-all’. I dont know how it came about but it really couldnt be further from the truth!”

      YES YES OMG YES.

  2. Helen MacDonald says

    The craziest thing I’ve ever heard is “I don’t believe in breastfeeding”

    At the time I was volunteering at a sausage sizzle for the Australian Breastfeeding Association and a female walked past and said that! Unbelievable!

  3. Karen says

    I totally believe that it is the mothers choice how to feed their baby and would never pass judgement. However I have found that other mothers who bottle feed their babies can be extremely negative to my decision to breast feed my baby. Some women seem to me to feel guilty and jealous that I have been able to do it and have voiced their opinions and ranted that it is not natural as health proffesionals would have you believe. Well I’m very sorry but my baby is 8 months old and I have found breast feeding to be very natural and easy. Can formula feeding mums stop giving me a hard time just because you’re jealous and feel guilty? I don’t say horrible things to you!!!!!

    • says

      I’m sorry to hear that you’ve had to deal with aggravation for your feeding choices :( It’s a shame that we can’t all just live and let live! Thank you for your comment :)

    • says

      see, I find this one difficult because I often wonder what it would be like to be free of the responsibility of nursing… so I can understand someone saying that they want their body back. After being either pregnant or breastfeeding (or both) for 4 years I can relate to that sentiment ;)

  4. Hoppy says

    Thank you for this!

    Breast can never be the same with formula! One of my friends that is a nurse was trying to make this argument and i found it soooo pathetic and sorry for the health system that have people that have such uninformed views..

    Then they say, when you brestfeed, your baby will have to be with you all the time….It’s such a funny thing to say in these days when there are all types of breast pumps… I am on my 4th one at the moment! LOL. I have an 8th month old, I am back to work as a solicitor, my son has never had formular cos he does not need it, i nurse and pump as required.

    xx

  5. Kristy says

    It annoys me when people say they don’t want to breastfeed because its not natural- thats ridiculous! What could be more natural?

    Also my mums excuse for not breastfeeding me and my older sister is because she “didn’t want to lose my big boobs”- which ironically she lost anyway because of age and weightloss. The excuses some women come up with are just so ridiculous!

    This post is great btw :D x

  6. shannon says

    I had plenty of negativity during the 6 months I was able to breastfeed my now almost 1 year old, and I say all the time how much I miss nursing him. I am soo anti formula, Haha. I hate it. It smells bad. It’s sticky, gets grain everywhere, sticks to EVERYTHING, and most of all it is waaaay too expensive. If I could still be nursing, I would be. I hated all the negativity I got from family friends and co workers. “Just give him formula, hell be ok” “why are.you nursing, its so much work” “I couldn’t do it, I like to keep my body to myself.” (That last one.blew my mind lol) needless to say, I am all for nursing mamas!!!!

  7. says

    I am currently attempting to nurse my 6 month old. He is very fussy and frustrated during the day with the breast, so I have resorted to pumping and bottle feeding – however, when he is sleepy at night he nurses just fine. Just trying to make things work – However, I would never consider formula! It is so expensive. After I had the baby I got a Similac bottle of formula in the mail. The label accually said something on the lines of “Breastfeeding is recommended, but if formula is chosen, we have the right stuff here”. How funny – even the formula people recommend breastfeeding!
    Also, I am a stay at home mom. We could use the income I used to bring in before babe was born, but we have changed our lifestyle, budgeted, and make me being at home happen. I know that for some people that is way too hard, but I hate hearing the “I want my body back, it’s not natural, the freedom it gets me…” If you wanted to be selfish, and be so free to live your life…why did you have a baby to begin with? If you don’t want to be a parent – then don’t have a kid!!!!! This may seem really harsh, but that goes to all the parents that go back to work and have a day care practically raise their child from age 6 weeks on so that they can “provide for a more loving home for baby”. If you have a child – he/she needs their mother. How horrible it is to pawn your baby off for 8 hours while you are at work, so you can provide a more “loving” home for your baby. Maybe if you didn’t need to pay for child care you wouldn’t have to work!!! And don’t think that this is coming from someone who has tons of disposable income. My husband makes $2,400 a month and we live in Alaska where the cost of living is very high. We do not take any welfare of any sort. If we can do it, I think most other people can too. Having children is a lifestyle – if you don’t want that lifestyle, than don’t bring innocent angels into this world and screw them up because you don’t want to be there for them.
    G

    • says

      P.S. I do understand that some people really DO need to go back to work (kudos to all the single moms I know- you are amazing). I am just saying that sometimes moms go back to work for selfish reasons and try to justify it with needing money.

  8. Yvette says

    Breastfeeding is just sick! How can you let a baby do something that makes you orgasm!

    I wanted to literally punch this guy in the face that said this to me. I asked him if he felt ‘intimate’ with his girlfriend when they cuddled and he said yes. I then asked him if he felt ‘intimate’ with his neices and nephews when they sat in his lap and cuddled and he was horrified I even suggest such a thing. I then said, well breastfeeding is no nearer to what you said than what I said. And furthermore mate, breasts are made with mammary glands that produce milk when you have a baby because thats what they are for! If you were to ask a tribal man if his wifes breasts please him he would laugh at you and say no they please and noursish my children. Its only in your sick western mind that you think breastfeeding is wrong!!

    He walked away muttering something about me being sick…but I spoke my mind and I hoped he thought about our conversation many times over after this.

    • says

      Oh my goodness :O it’s amazing that there are still people in the world who think breastfeeding is about sexual pleasure. How twisted our society is :( good for you for informing your…. Ahem…. “unenlightened” commentator!!

  9. Beth says

    “Don’t you worry about giving your baby germs?”

    {I shake my head} Really? So all those months of shared BLOOD were ok for transmitting “germs”, but my milk isn’t, seriously?

    By the way, my baby turned 3 months yesterday and sleeps 7-8 hours every night just fine. Formula and (GASP) cereal at this age is not required to get a full nights sleep!

  10. Kalalu says

    I had a mother tell me it was wrong to breastfeed my daughter in public and that I should do it in my car or in a bathroom. I told her that was ridiculous! I don’t eat in my car or in the bathroom, so why would I want my baby to?

  11. Elizabeth says

    I think it’s funny, how people think all of these things. Well if you plan to have a baby, guess what. You have a kid, do you really expect to go out and party right after the baby is born, much less 3 years from that time? I’m a pretty clingy momma, and I’d rather be around her than be alone not knowing if she is alright. I’ve been breastfeeding my baby for 6 months now, and yes she eats solids, and I’m about to wean her, but I like breastfeeding. It’s much easier, no clean up, and babies are so interesting to watch while they’re feeding. LeAnne always stays in eye contact with me, and coo’s..and pets me. I think it’s cute and funny. People don’t seem to appreciate these small things about their child.

  12. Bev says

    Spot on. Every answer I rant to myself when excuses are made for not breastfeeding. Especially the ‘I didn’t have enough milk’ crap, or I found it difficult and painful. Being a mother is generally about putting a babies need before your own and this seems like falling at the first hurdle of parenthood. Breastfeeding for most is a skill to be learned not nescessarily something we take to naturally and easily at first.

    There’s only one FF mother I have respect for not breastfeeding and that’s because she simply said she didn’t want to. We all have he right to choose how to feed our babies, but don’t make up bullshit excuses for not feeding!!!

  13. Emma says

    “It’s nice for dad to be able to feed the baby” is one I hear a lot. In our family, bath time and bed are exclusively daddy times. I get feeds, and everything else is shared equally. Dad can feed the baby in a few months when he’s weaned!

    Also, “Breastfeeding is too much hassle, I can’t be doing with it”. Errr… pulling up your shirt is more hassle than sterilising bottles, measuring out powder, boiling water, mixing formula, waiting for it to cool down, etc etc? I remember being shown how to make up bottles when I was 14 and babysitting for a small child and thinking then “Why on earth would you do this to yourself?!”

    Even if you disregard all the health and emotional benefits, breastfeeding is cheaper, easier and more portable!

  14. Michelle says

    I am so glad to see someone stand up for this, I had such horrible depression because of my grand mother and her horrible attitude towards my breastfeeding because she hardly fed her children for a month. My baby picked up atleast 1 kg a month on breastfeeding alone, yet when my baby had cramps or was over tired and wouldn’t stop crying (I’m a single mom who went through all this by myself) she used to come knocking at my door saying, this baby is hungry, the breast feeding isn’t enough for her! She needs to have formula (my baby then around 2 months old) and she never even saw the baby, she just assumed and tried to push her will down on me and get me to do what SHE wants instead of what is good for the baby. Well . . . I am proud to say in spite of the complete lack of support and bullying, I didn’t listen to her, my baby is now 7 and a half months old and we are still going strong and loving breastfeeding! :)

  15. Sabrina says

    I’m so glad to find this article today. I have a 5 year old that I breastfed for 19 months and now have a 4 week old. The other week we went to a park. My older daughter wanted to swing so my husband was pushing her. I sat on the ground, lifted up my top shirt (had a nursing camisole on underneath) and nursed baby. I had a blanket on top of her, because it was little windy. You could see absolutely no skin (actually normally in public I don’t even cover up if I’m wearing a nursing top. The only thing I don’t like is to have my flabby stomach in public view, so I try to cover it). Two women were sitting on a park bench BEHIND me. They started a loud conversation about how it was so gross to breastfeed and how everyone knew what I was doing and I needed to do it elsewhere. I turned around to see if they would say something to me directly. Neither would look me in the eye. Later, they got up off the bench so I sat there. One had left her sunglasses there and came back to get them. Didn’t say a word to me about nursing even though it was just the two of us. I don’t expect everyone to breastfeed but sheesh, stop the judging. and if you’re going to say something that you’re trying to get me to hear, have the balls to say it to my face when you have the chance.

  16. Deanna Fultz says

    It always gets to me when people say you have to quit nursing once the baby gets teeth because they will start biting you. I just tell people that you train your baby not to bite. Trust me it’s not that big of a problem!

    Btw, I nursed my son for 22 months and I don’t have a single regret or scars from bite marks. I would do it again. I think the best thing I ever did was take a class on nursing before I had my son. I recommend it to everyone that is having a baby and wants to nurse. I have found that the people who give up on nursing are the ones who are the least informed.

  17. Inga says

    I am currently breastfeeding my 8 month old, and though it’s much easier now, we had difficulty at the beginning. First, I have chronic neck pain, which would hurt whether or not I was breastfeeding, but it sure was tempting at times to bottle feed even though I am personally against formula. She was a sleepy eater the first few weeks and didn’t’t gain enough weight, so I had to pump after nearly every feeding and give it to her through a feeding tube while nursing her the next round. That was difficult, so I ended up pumping and giving her bottles most of her feedings. Now I pump and give her bottles for her morning and night feedings, and nurse her throughout the day, which feels like a piece of cake compared to what we were doing before. Lucky for me, my husband and family support my decision and do all they can to help. I try to be a role model for my older daughter and nieces (who were not breastfed because their mom thinks it’s gross), so they see all the positive benefits to breast milk as opposed to formula, and at least have an open mind about it when they become moms themselves.

  18. Freckle says

    I don’t think it’s right that anyone give a mother a hard time for stopping breastfeeding because she ‘wants her body back’. If she was successful feeding the baby for a week, a month or a year, then good for her!!

  19. Jennylyn Rollon says

    My baby is now 8mos old and he is exclusively and still breastfeeding. And I strongly agree with everything you said :) … I had my first child but I wasn’t able to breastfed her for lack of knowledge about breasfeeding since I was just 19 years old when I had her … Now that I have my 2nd baby I am now more knowledgelable about the best things that a baby “must, could and should” have and the firts thing on the my list was to breastfeed him :) it worked a lot and helped a lot and I know it is all worth it seeing him active strong and healthy :) and i do have a very supportive husband as well :) so … Hurrah for all you mothers for breastfeeding your babies :)

  20. Brittany says

    My mother in law is against breast feeding. She asks me how do you know how much he’s drinking, he don’t seem satisfied, with formula you know he is getting enough, with formula they sleep longer at night, he is too hungry(cause every time a baby cries it must mean they are hungry)……. ect…… He drinks till he is done and he doubled his birth weight in 4 months so that’s how I know he is eating enough. I don’t need to know exactly how much he is drinking every meal cause he drinks till he is done. Babies don’t just nurse cause they are hungry. Babies comfort nurse too. Breastfeed babies don’t over eat cause they aren’t being forced a bottle till they finish it.

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