How to Respond to Negative Breastfeeding Comments

When new moms decide to breastfeed in public, they are sometimes met with negative comments or even forms of public shaming. Here are some tips to help nursing mothers respond to criticism and have peace of mind.

Breastfeeding is the most natural and nourishing way for a mom to bond with her baby. Unfortunately, despite the countless health benefits, some moms become targets for breastfeeding criticism. If mothers internalize negative comments about public breastfeeding or breastfeeding in the workplace, it can lead to a reluctance to nurse in these places. Whether you choose to breastfeed in public or believe extended breastfeeding is best for your toddler, we’ve got the tools to help you overcome common breastfeeding criticisms.

Keep in Mind the Benefits of Breastfeeding

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of your baby’s life and then continuing to breastfeed as long as it’s mutually beneficial for mom and baby. Why is that? Because the list of breastfeeding benefits is incredible, including boosting your baby’s immune system, preventing many common diseases, and helping to reduce your risk of some cancers – it doesn’t get much better than that!

In the face of breastfeeding shaming, it can be helpful to remember that the benefits of breastfeeding for your baby are long-term, while the sting of criticism or negative comments is typically momentary and fleeting. So, when you feel discouraged, know you are truly providing the best nutrition possible for your baby.

Find a Response That Represents You

If someone chooses to confront you about your breastfeeding decisions, you have many options for how you can respond. But always choose a response that represents your family and makes you feel comfortable. Looking for some suggestions for responding to negative breastfeeding comments? Try these responses to breastfeeding criticism or shaming.

Give them the facts. Some people are unaware of the health benefits of breastfeeding and could be open to learning more. Calmly explaining that you are doing what is proven to be best for your baby may help deter criticism or negative comments. So, throw out your favorite benefit of breastfeeding the next time you face a challenge.

Ignore them. You know what works best for your family, so don’t feel like you have to justify it to others. If you don’t feel comfortable responding, don’t.

Talk about the demands of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is a serious time commitment. There are going to be times when you’re away from home and your baby needs to nurse. So, try telling critics how often you have to breastfeed. Or, let them know that lactation consultants recommend breastfeeding 8 to 12 times in a 24-hour period. That’s a long time to stay at home, especially when occasional errands need to be done. Whether you need to grab diapers, wipes, and a few snacks at the grocery store or you have to run inside the bank for something, you shouldn't be expected to stay at home for the duration of your breastfeeding journey! Communicating the demands of breastfeeding to critics can help eliminate barriers to breastfeeding in public or the workplace.

Seek Support for Breastfeeding

Finding reliable breastfeeding support is the key to success. Surround yourself with people who support your breastfeeding goals and desires. They’ll not only be a great resource when times get tough but they can also help you manage breastfeeding criticism from others. Bounce response ideas off them, or just reach out to them when you’re frustrated with negative opinions. If you’re looking for a more extensive support system, consider joining a breastfeeding support group. Talk about a group of caring people!