The current well-documented and widely accepted mantra is that “breast is best” for both mom and baby. However, moms still might get certain questions from their partners, loved ones, or even strangers on the street. Even if these questions are well intended, it still can feel a bit invasive if people are asking you about your personal decisions regarding how to feed your child. Some people might try to offer advice, or even sound a little judgmental. Don’t take it personally – and be prepared with some witty and well-informed comebacks if needed.
Even other moms might try to offer advice and opinions based on their own experience with breastfeeding. People might be curious about certain choices that you have made about breastfeeding – whether it is how often to feed the baby, nursing in public or pumping breastmilk. You may feel that they are questioning if what you are doing is “normal.” However, the truth is, when it comes to breastfeeding, there is no normal – so every mother’s experience is different.
Depending on your relationship with the person asking the questions, you might need to respond more carefully or tactfully than with others – but try to be informative and upbeat. Remember that other people’s opinions and questions are irrelevant to your own decision making about what is best for your child and yourself. Be confident in your decisions, and don’t feel like you have to defend yourself or rationalize your choices to anyone – but if you want to offer some good responses to questions from friends and family, here are some tips:
Responding to Breastfeeding Myths
People might come up to you and ask about some silly breastfeeding myths, like, “Is it true that breastfeeding makes your breasts sag?” or “Careful – you’re not going to nurse your baby while you’re sick, are you?” or “Don’t drink that wine! You’re breastfeeding and it’s not safe, right?”
Whenever someone mentions a breastfeeding myth, it helps to be cheerful and give them the facts. “Actually…” you might say, “a lot of people have a misconception about that, but the truth is, breastfeeding doesn’t cause saggy breasts/it’s totally safe to nurse your baby while sick/there is a way to consume some alcohol while breastfeeding.”
Check out some of our previous Medela articles for examples of common breastfeeding myths:
- Debunking 5 More Crazy Breastfeeding Myths You’ve Probably Heard
- 5 Ridiculous Breastfeeding Myths That May Surprise You
- 7 Ridiculous Breastfeeding Myths You Need to Know
Common Breastfeeding Questions a Mom Might Be Asked
Here are a few of the most common breastfeeding questions and ideas on how you can respond!
Question: Does breastfeeding hurt?
Answer: Sometimes it feels a little uncomfortable, but it is never overly painful. There are some great products to help if nipples get sore, and most of the time pain is caused early on with breastfeeding when the baby is first getting used to latching. That can be easily corrected.
Question: How do you know the baby is getting enough breastmilk?
Answer: Well, since we can’t see how much milk is being consumed – there are two ways to determine if a baby is getting enough milk. If the baby is producing enough wet and soiled diapers and gaining weight, these are good signs that the baby is getting enough to eat!
Question: What is colostrum?
Answer: Colostrum is the mother’s first breastmilk – it is a special kind of early-stage breastmilk with powerful nutritional and immunity ingredients that is only produced for a few days at birth. Colostrum is very important to the early stages of the baby’s development, so it’s important for babies to breastfeed
as soon as possible after birth to get the full benefits of the colostrum.
Question: Why do some babies take pumped breastmilk from a bottle and others will only take breastmilk directly from the breast?
Answer: Babies are mysterious – some babies love the bottle and some will not touch it; you just never know. Medela makes a feeding solution called Calma, which lets the baby use the same sucking behaviour as they use on the mother’s actual nipple so the baby can go from breast to Calma and back easily. Remember, learning something new takes some time! That applies to both you and the baby. Try Calma a few times before moving to a different brand or a different nipple. Practice makes perfect.
Question: How can a dad bond if the baby will not take a bottle?
Answer: There are many ways for a dad or family member to bond with your baby besides feeding. For example, lots of dads love to sing songs to the baby or carry the baby in a sling or baby carrier, or just hold the baby on their chest until the baby goes to sleep. There are many ways for dads and partners to be very closely involved in bonding with the baby and supporting the breastfeeding mother, even if the baby never touches a bottle. (NOTE: Read this article for some additional daddy-baby bonding ideas.)
Question: Why is the baby vomiting sometimes after breastfeeding?
Answer: It’s actually not “vomit,” it’s just spit-up; some excess milk and saliva. And spit-up doesn’t hurt the baby – sometimes babies eat more than their tiny stomach is ready to absorb.
Question: Is what you are eating causing the baby to have colic?
Answer: The causes of colic are somewhat mysterious, but according to the latest research, most health professionals and child development experts believe that colic is not caused by what the mother is eating. Colic is more likely a stress response from a baby that is struggling to feel comfortable and calm. (NOTE: This article explains how to deal with a baby who demonstrates colicky behaviour.)
Question: Why does the baby cry when he is drinking from the breast?
Answer: Why babies cry is a question that has absolutely no answer. Babies need to soothe themselves, and sometimes the process of making the transition into the world takes some babies longer than others. Crying is a natural part of the child’s development and adaptation to the world outside the womb.
Question: Why are you breastfeeding for longer than a year?
Answer: It’s perfectly fine for babies to keep breastfeeding for longer than a year. According to World Health Organisation guidelines, breastfeeding is recommended along with complementary solid foods for up to two years and beyond.
Question: Why are you pumping milk so often?
Answer: Breastfeeding works on a system of demand and supply – the more milk the baby takes from the breast, the more the body produces. I need to keep pumping milk so I can keep my breastmilk supply at the level that it needs to be.
Places Where Moms Can Get Answers
You might get some questions that are medical in nature or that are very specific and require a nuanced explanation. If you want to be prepared to answer these questions in detail, check out some of the previous articles on the Medela blog that help anticipate some of the questions a mom might receive.
- 6 Questions to Ask Your Healthcare Professional
- Breastfeeding Support in Canada
- Breastfeeding Basics – A Survival Guide for New Dads
- Welcome to the New Normal
- What’s Normal Might Surprise You
We hope this has helped to address most of the questions that might come up from family, friends or strangers. You don’t really have to answer any questions; a simple smile is usually a good response to any well-intentioned question.
What’s the best (or worst) question someone has ever asked you about breastfeeding? Leave a comment and let us know, or join the discussion on the Medela Canada Facebook page!