Sarah Remmer: The Non-Diet Dietitian


Dear Stranger: Don't Ask Me If I Breastfeed My Baby Or Not

It's none of your business!

don't ask a mom how she is feeding her baby

It amazes me that some people feel that it's appropriate to ask very personal questions to complete strangers, especially when it comes to pregnant women and new moms. Some of these people feel as though they deserve the right to know whether or not a mom is breastfeeding or formula feeding her baby. Complete strangers. In the grocery store. 

My big question is...why?!

Why on earth would someone randomly approach a new mom and ask her this? To judge her? Do make her feel guilty if she chooses to formula/bottle feed her baby? I can't really think of any other reason. And why wouldn't they kindly ask a normal question like "how old is she?" or "is this your first?"

I've been asked a few times whether or not I'm nursing my new baby girl over the past couple of weeks, and even though I am breastfeeding, I couldn't help but be a little offended. Why is it any of their business?! What would they say if I said "no, I'm not"? Do they know how hard breastfeeding can be?! 

A very close friend of mine, who is an amazing mom in every way, recently told me a story that infuriated me. She was at the grocery store with her toddler and newborn and was randomly approached by an older man. He made a nice comment about her baby and then proceeded to ask her if she fed her baby with her "thingys" and pointed to his chest. After my friend reluctantly replied "no, I don't," he explained how his wife fed all of their kids with her "thingys" and that he has always heard that it was the healthier way to go.

Ummmmm...... are you kidding me?!

Don't get me wrong, I will be the first to advocate for breastfeeding. I am well aware of the nutritional and emotional benefits that it provides to both a mom and a baby. But I'm also VERY aware of how challenging breastfeeding can be and have personally struggled with it in the past. I know how it feels to want to breastfeed so badly it hurts—literally—but not succeed. As a first-time mom and a Registered Dietitian, I assumed that I would breastfeed my son for at least a year, it was a given. But unfortunately I struggled with nursing from day one. I did not produce enough milk for him and experienced major anxiety over it, which made it worse. I felt like a failure and felt deeply guilty for not being able to exclusively breastfeed. For many moms, especially first time moms, breastfeeding is not easy. In fact, it can be excruciatingly hard. 

Strangers, please don't ask a mom how she is feeding her baby. Even if you're really curious. That mom is doing her very best to provide nourishment to her baby. She is likely getting up several times at night to do this. Instead of asking an inappropriate question that may make her feel like she's not a very good mom, congratulate her. Tell her how great she looks and how adorable her baby is. You will make her day.