Before you became a mom, you probably imagined feeding your baby in a serene, quiet nursery with no one in your business. And then real life happened. When babies are hungry, moms have to feed them. No matter where they are. For breastfeeding moms, that can lead to some very awkward situations in public and some not-so-nice comments from strangers. Get ready for your jaw to drop because you won't believe some of the things people have had the audacity to say.
They did not just say that
Susan B. was trying to breastfeed her newborn on a New York City bench while her 17-month-old and 3-1/2-year old sat in a stroller. A not-so-helpful fellow New Yorker decided to weigh in on the whole situation. "My middle child was pulling my older ones hair, I was breastfeeding my baby and trying to get my middle one to stop pulling Claire's hair. This woman stopped and said 'Ugh. What are you a cow???? Give your kid a bottle and learn how to control your animals!'"
Yup that's right. I'll wait until you're done gasping.
Alexandra R. founds herself breastfeeding her baby in a coat check room at a wedding. Did she find a little peace among the jackets in there? No, she did not. "The girl checking coats turned to me and said, 'My boyfriend won't let me nurse. He says it will give me saggy boobs.' Then she looks at my... saggy boobs."
People who should be smarter than this
And sometimes comments come from professionals that should really know better.
Julia M. was at her six-week postpartum appointment. "A young pediatrician asked me if I was nursing. When I said yes, she said, 'Phew. Good thing, otherwise his IQ would drop.' Yeah, she said that. Three months later, I stopped nursing with no regrets. Hope that doc grew some sensitivity since then."
And another mom wished the human resources department would keep its mouth closed. Ann H. says, "The most gut-wrenching comment was made to me by the HR woman at work, who when my baby girl was 11 months, said, 'You need to wean that child — at this point you are just doing it for you.'"
Mothers fight back
And some mamas refuse to stay silent when they are being judged.
Valerie L. didn't appreciate being criticized for feeding her baby. "The worst thing anyone ever said to me was a guy in an airport who said he 'shouldn't have to see that,' so I said, 'Fine, feel free to walk away!'"
Mother Ivy L. says, "I nursed my son at a restaurant booth once and got stared down by a couple at a table nearby. So I glared back at them and said, 'What? You're eating. So's my baby.'"
A look can say a thousand words
Many women deal with dirty looks. Jessica R. says she and her sister stopped to feed their babies in a New York City shopping center. "We were in a small shopping center/mall-type thing and the only place to hang happened to be close to where an escalator let out. As we sat there, me nursing, her feeding the baby a bottle, we were the first thing people saw as they got to the top of the escalator. We both got equal numbers of dirty looks. Her, for not breastfeeding, me for breastfeeding in public. Utter proof that you simply can't win."
Crystal S. noticed the looks too. She says, "I nursed my oldest walking around the mall. No cover, but no one said anything rude to me. The dudes gave me the side-eye, but I didn't care."
And some moms actually get unwanted feedback when they aren't even nursing. Rebecca V. will forever remember one comment. "I was in the mall, carrying Catherine in the sling. I wasn't nursing, but this old man thought I was and said, 'I wish I was that baby right now.' Ugh. I still cringe when I think about it."
A shining moment
But sometimes moms actually get some supportive words, which is nice when you're exhausted from taking care of a newborn and feel like you have to feed them roughly 10 million times a day. Jill F. was nursing her baby at a restaurant when she heard from a fellow customer. "Someone sent a free dessert to my table with a note on a napkin that said, 'Nurse on, mama!'"
Free dessert and positive affirmation? We need more people like that.