Happy Holidays! Tips for Breastfeeding Around Family

The holidays are right around the corner and ’tis the season for social gatherings and family time. Many of you wanted more tips on breastfeeding around others, so we’ve rounded up our favorites.

We’ve broken this into two sets, one regarding comments, judgment or awkwardness surrounding actually physically breastfeeding your child at gatherings and social functions, and another set regarding comments and questions you may get about your decision to breastfeed your child.

The Act of Breastfeeding:

  • Breastfeed around others. Use a cover if you’d like. We’re big advocates of the right to breastfeed and nourish your child any time, anywhere, with or without a cover. It’s a protected right in all 50 states. What are you most comfortable with?

  • Ask. When baby gets fussy, simply ask, “Is it cool if I breastfeed here real quick?” You may be surprised how few people actually care. The few times I’ve asked, I have never been told “no, please go elsewhere.”

  • Go to another room. Sometimes baby (and mama) could use a little quiet time away from all the excitement. I have FOR SURE used nursing and pumping as an excuse to chill out for a few minutes and snuggle my baby and play a little Candy Crush. Depending on the situation or familial culture, you may or may not feel the need to excuse yourself to do this. If it’s a big party, no one will likely notice that you have slipped off somewhere. If it’s a small gathering, you may want to say, “Let me go feed him.”

  • Feel confident in accepting or rejecting visitors while you breastfeed. Some family members may think it’s no big deal to accompany you to another room to just chat while you nurse your baby. You may or may not be comfortable with this. This may also be a real distraction for your baby, and therefore, not really welcome! Or maybe you’d love to catch up with that person, and would love to talk to a living, breathing adult. You get to make the call!

Fielding Questions or Comments about your Decision to Breastfeed

  • You know formula is healthier, right?

  • First of all, this is untrue. This sort of comment probably comes from a misunderstanding about formula vs breastmilk from many, many years ago. Also, how you choose to feed your baby is no one else’s business. You may try saying something like, “I talked this over with my OBGYN and our pediatrician, and we decided this was the best decision for us!”

  • I could only breastfeed for 2 months and then I dried right up. The same may happen to you.

  • This may come from a family member. This is also false. Family history of milk production is not an indicator of your own personal breastfeeding journey. You may want to say something like, “I’m sorry to hear that. So far, we’re still going strong!”

  • You are so lucky to be able to breastfeed/pump for your baby! I wasn’t able to do that.

  • This is a well-intentioned comment, but it can make you feel awkward. Yes, I feel very very fortunate that I am able to produce breastmilk for my child. And we live in an amazing age with awesome technology that has made breast pumps better, more efficient, and frankly, cooler than ever. But sometimes it's hard to know what to say about another's inability to breastfeed. Maybe you too have had struggles and challenges, but may not want to talk about that over the eggnog. Depending on the person, you may be able to direct away from it by saying “Yeah, she eats well and is growing so fast! She just started holding her head up.”

  • Are you sure you’re producing enough milk?

  • Yes. You are sure. Or perhaps you aren’t sure. In which case, see a lactation consultant. But your cousin cannot diagnose this, and frankly, has no idea what they are talking about. Chuckle, say “we’re doing great!” And then ask a question about their life, the recent vacation, work, their hobbies, etc.

  • Comments about your breast size, shape, and milk production (big, small, or whatever!).

  • This one’s a hard stop. No one has the right to comment on your breast size or shape. Or really, any size or shape of any body part of yours. It’s weird. It’s creepy. They either have no filter and said it without thinking, or they are not nice. Either way, we don’t feel it’s your job to be gracious in this situation. Tell them that is a weird thing to say and that it’s none of their business. End it there. For the record, there is no scientific evidence that the size or shape of your breasts determines how much milk you will produce.

  • Are you still breastfeeding him?

  • The answer is YES, Karen. OBVI.

  • When do you plan to wean her?

  • How you answer this may have a lot to do with who asked it and how they asked it. Was it said with judgment? Or genuine interest? A nice, sweet aunt, or a grinchy sister-in-law? You don't have to answer this question, actually. You can say "whenever the time is right for both of us." Keeping it vague may avoid unwelcome opinions about whatever your goal may be.

The holidays can be a time of great joy and celebration, but they can also force you to navigate some awkward situations with family or friends that you don't see often. People may have a little too much bubbly, their guard goes down, and they may say something weird or offensive. We are big fans of a plan! Having some ideas of how you will respond to comments can help you enter a social situation with a bit more confidence. We hope you don't have to use any of the advice and your celebrations are 100% cooing over that sweet baby!

We know you've got a lot going on, so we wanted to create a resource that would help you nourish your body while breastfeeding that precious babe. Click here to request our free download all about nutrition while nursing!

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