Welcome to the April Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting advice!
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month we’re writing letters to ask our readers for help with a current parenting issue. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Recently I stopped by my good friend’s place to hang out for a bit and naturally I brought along Tristan, my 6 month old son who (of course) is breastfed.

Overall the visit was fine but there was some moments that made me feel uncomfortable. She has an almost 19yr old son who was in the living room with us and naturally the baby (since it was past midnight) needed to nurse.

Her son never said anything negative or stared, he was busy playing on his computer! We conversed normally, he even asked if the baby was eating or sleeping.

During my 5 hour visit, the baby nursed many times and during a couple of his marathon nursing sessions, my friend gestured and whispered that I should try to hide my breast because her son was in the room.

The next day we talked on the phone and she made it a point to inform me that she “discussed the breastfeeding” with her son, that she asked him how it made him feel (apparently he said he was just not prepared for me to “whip it out and just do it”), and overall made a really BIG DEAL (in my opinion).

I was a bit surprised, granted she formula fed her kids but from what I recall nursed her son until he was 3 months old (she quit because she thought at his 3 month growth spurt that he was “starving”). Also we’ve been friends since before I got pregnant with Daniel and she is MORE than aware of my style of parenting.

I have other similar situations, for example a few weeks ago at the local grocery store, we were about to pack up and go home when my brother surprised us in the parking lot. I was in the backseat of my car, breastfeeding the baby in his carseat (mad skills yo!), when after 10 minutes of conversation my brother realized the baby was nursing and told me I should cover up with a quilt.

After telling him he was out of line, he got irate, tried to get my 8yr old son (who self-weaned at 4yrs old), to “agree” that “mom should cover that up”. My son was confused, a bit freaked out, and now has little to no interest in contact with my brother. He told me later that he didn’t even know what his uncle was trying to SAY.

In both situations, I have NO idea how MY feeding MY son had a damn thing to do with anyone but ME and MY SON.

I won’t even go into the recent facebook drama!

So Natural Parenting Community, my question is this, how do you handle your family and friends when they attack you or create a “situation” out of YOU breastfeeding YOUR child?

Carnival of Natural Parenting Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

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Lauren @ Hobo Mama
posted on April 13th 2010 at 5:57AM CST

And people wonder why more women don’t breastfeed in this country! What terrible (lack of) support you’re getting. I really am so upset with these people on your behalf. I think what you did do was right — in the first case, you went about your business and then told your friend you couldn’t see what was wrong with it (because, um, there wasn’t anything wrong with it). In the second case, you told your brother to back off. I’m still mad that he tried to get your 8-year-old to agree with him. That was way out of line and very confusing for your son.

All I can hope is that both your brother and the 19-year-old (well, and your friend) are maybe opening their eyes a little to a different perspective on breastfeeding. The fact that you DON’T think it’s shameful and needs to be hidden maybe will start leaking through to them and eventually they’ll change their minds. I mean, it’s a slim hope, but I do think it’s possible.

I guess my advice is just to continue, as far as you can, to be level-headed when responding, to state that you prefer not to cover up, thank you, that breastfeeding’s natural, and then just leave it at that and refuse to argue the case. And then come rant online so you feel supported! :) Because I’d hate for that to be your main exposure to breastfeeding attitudes.

posted on April 13th 2010 at 12:51PM CST

Overall I could care less what other people think about me breastfeeding MY kids… it’s just the ignorance that drives me INSANE.

None of us have heard from or spoken to my brother since that incident in the parking lot. He severed what sliver of a relationship we could have had.

Oh geez, if I didn’t have twitter or all of you guys, I think I would be weeping in a corner every single day!

posted on April 13th 2010 at 6:35AM CST

That really annoys me women should be able to breastfeed anywhere they want and not have people making them feel like they are doing something dirty, urgh!

posted on April 13th 2010 at 12:53PM CST

Exactly! It’s crazy to me that we NEED LAWS in place to PROTECT our biological RIGHT to feed our children the way they are BORN to be fed.

posted on April 13th 2010 at 7:23AM CST

While I haven’t yet had to deal with it (quite unfortunate. I want babies!!!) I know I will eventually. And essentially I will have the same policy as my mother. If you don’t like it and it’s not illegal, go F yourself. If you don’t want to explain it to your child btw, I will -_-

posted on April 13th 2010 at 12:54PM CST

LOL I love that policy!!

posted on April 13th 2010 at 8:19AM CST

oh my goodness!! I can’t beleive your own brother would do that! I would punch mine in the face and tell him to get out.

Ok more seriously….if a friend called a told me they were uncomfortable I would apologize and talk about what could be done to make them more comfortable. I have found that most people just have almost zero knowledge of breastfeeding. You can tell her you will not be using a cover but if she wants warning so she can look away while you latch on or something like that. let us know how the situation plays out! I hate that you are going through that. :(

posted on April 13th 2010 at 12:57PM CST

I was just… in shock that he would do that. I will NEVER understand why my family (with the exception of my twin sister) acts SHOCKED that I breastfeed anywhere without hiding/covering/etc. I freaking nursed DS1 from birth until he was four years old! Around all of that same family!

See my friend had breastfed that same 19yr old for his first 3 months of life and is always telling me how great breastfeeding is, yet to put forth that “should be hiding!” sentiment really confused me. I wasn’t taking my entire shirt off to nurse and I am large chested, there’s only so much I can cover heh.

posted on April 13th 2010 at 8:36AM CST

How annoying. I can’t honestly even imagine having friends who would be uncomfortable with me breastfeeding my infant in their home. Your brother is just absolutely ludicrous. Don’t know what happened on Facebook, but I just don’t understand why people have so many problems with others’ feeding their babies!

posted on April 13th 2010 at 1:01PM CST

Oh I tweeted about the facebook situation.

Basically an old HS friend posted a status (she has a baby girl, formula feeds) saying how disgusted she was that in her apt complex a woman was walking around while bfing her child. That she should have done that in her home, not in PUBLIC because her HUSBAND and CHILDREN might SEE her BREAST.

Her “supportive” friends commented like crazy how “disgusting” that woman must be, how children could be traumatized, that a breast is 100% sexual, that formula exists for a reason, etc. Just gets worse, I commented a few times and just… couldn’t take it.

So I unfriended her, deleted my comments (so that I could stop getting notifications), and ranted on twitter heh.

My brother is just… sigh. I have no words really.

I am just more sad that my friend saw me breastfeeding my baby and turned it into a “situation”.

posted on April 13th 2010 at 8:57AM CST

You handled both situations beautifully. I try to have a couple of breastfeeding facts in my pocket for situations where someone might comment negatively. Gently educating people like your friend (who was at least not combative) and being firmer with people like your brother is perfect. It’s so sad that we hear stories like this so often. Thank you for writing about them and encouraging other women.

posted on April 13th 2010 at 1:03PM CST

I didn’t even know how to respond to my friend on the phone, I think I got off very quickly actually.

I still continue to nurse the wee one anywhere… although generally he is old enough that he would rather LOOK at everything in the store than nurse… hence my mad carseat nursing skills lol.

Joni Rae
posted on April 13th 2010 at 11:00AM CST

WTF. What wonderful, supportive friends and family you have around you. No wonder women give up. Hugs to you mama!

I think in this sort of situation the best thing you can do is be clear that breastfeeding is natural and awesome and the BEST thing for your baby. Maybe eventually they will see that, but if not at least YOU know it.

posted on April 13th 2010 at 1:07PM CST

Oh gosh it was WAY worse when Danny was a baby. I remember nursing his then 10mo old self on our porch in Ohio and my father (who was down to help us move in with him here in Illinois), was SCREAMING for me to go inside the house, what if the police saw me, that it was indecent, etc.

I had my mother be in shock that I could nurse a baby (she first met Danny at 18mo old) who was 1. over a year old 2. had a mouth full of teeth.

I think the ONLY person in my family who didn’t expect me to hide/cover up/etc was my twin sister.

posted on April 13th 2010 at 11:33AM CST

When my oldest was about 2 months old, I attended my sisters baby shower. Huge surprise as most of us didn’t even KNOW she was pregnant until after I had my son, nearly 6 months into her pregnancy. Anyways.
Camden woke up, and I took him out of his carseat, got him a new diaper, and of course got ready to feed him. EVEN using a BLANKET! My Grandmother who I seriously doubt breastfed ANY of her kids FREAKED OUT! She insisted I go in the other room repeatedly so no one would see me. I repeatedly told her we were perfectly fine where we were.
She kept trying to push me into the other room till my mother came over and in so many words told her where to go and how to get there. Something she is good at to say the least.

I was pissed off, and horrified that I had to deal with that in front of not only a bunch of strangers, but my family and friends who had no issue with it at all.

posted on April 13th 2010 at 1:10PM CST

Woah that is CRAZY about your sister! I don’t get how you can hide a pregnancy, then again I couldn’t keep food down for mine so that was a dead giveaway lol.

That is GREAT that your mother stood up for you. It’s insane how someone thinks it’s ok to ATTACK a breastfeeding mother IN PUBLIC no less, yet would NEVER do that if say they were vegan and the person was eating a rare steak. (I just know my friend Lisa Marie is going to kill me on that one heh).

posted on April 13th 2010 at 11:52AM CST

Oh my, your friend and your brother (and, I suppose, many others in our culture) make me sad! And angry. :-( First off: 19 year olds NEED to see breasts being used for breastfeeding rather than just sexualizing them. That way, when they’re your brother’s age (I’m assuming he’s older) they won’t feel the need to tell women to cover up ’cause it’ll be normal/invisible/not a big deal to them. It’s all about normalization of a normal, healthy practice. And it makes me upset that any of us have to fend off comments like those you’ve received. So, I guess I don’t have much to say other than I feel for you, I hope you continue to breastfeed where you want to as you want to, know that I’m right there with you (I nurse my 18 month old daughter) and let’s hope that if enough of us are out there feeding our kiddos that people will get over being shocked at our scandalous behaviour and realize that we’re not doing anything scandalous at all. Hugs!

posted on April 13th 2010 at 1:12PM CST

Oh yes my brother is 27yrs old!! No kids though (thankfully).

I so completely agree, it’s about normalization!! Oh yes, I breastfed DS1 until he was four years old, IN PUBLIC *gasp*.

I thankfully have an awesome boyfriend that fully supports me. That always helps lol.

posted on April 13th 2010 at 12:44PM CST

You know, maybe it wasn’t her son who had the problem. It sounds to me that she’s the one with the problem. I think she just used her son as an easy way out. Pardon my French, but screw that. A) She’s your friend. She should be more supportive. B) She’s a mom herself. WTH? C) It’s not polite to stare at people while they’re eating anyway.

I have to agree with what Joni Rae said. No wonder women give up is right. There’s just not enough support anymore. Not even from other mothers. It’s sad.

posted on April 13th 2010 at 1:18PM CST

Oh I am fairly sure her son didn’t really care TOO much one way or the other. It’s that she created a situation. Even if her son DID have an issue, she could have taken that opportunity to EDUCATE.

Oh geez, after the FB drama, it’s INSANE how other mothers REINFORCE the belief that breastfeeding is “Gross” “Disgusting” “Sexual” and so forth. This is why I used to make friends with non-parents so I never had to debate this stuff lol.

posted on April 13th 2010 at 2:07PM CST

When I first mentioned breastfeeding Meghan, my mother looked disgusted. She said “I don’t know how you can do it. Its not natural.” So yeah, that’s the support I had.

posted on April 13th 2010 at 5:38PM CST

LOL “it’s not natural”. So then what does she think the milk ducts in our breasts are for?

Ah I’m sorry though that you didn’t have any support!

posted on April 13th 2010 at 3:26PM CST

Man, people never cease to amaze me. It doesn’t matter how long or where you breastfeed your kids, either. Someone’s going to find fault with something.

Stick to your guns and stick to the places you know are [emotionally] safe.

posted on April 13th 2010 at 5:41PM CST

I never in a million years could have thought that people could have an issue with breastfeeding. I mean of ALL the things in the world really.

Ah just drives me nuts.

posted on April 13th 2010 at 3:58PM CST

I’m no longer breastfeeding, but I breastfed Alyssa for ten months and Ryan for fourteen. My mom would occasionally ask or joke about me covering up, or would mention that I “obviously” didn’t give a damn what people saw or thought (my retort was always: “Obviously!”), but other than that I didn’t have too much to deal with. My husband knew better than to say a word if he had a negative opinion about breastfeeding in public (which to my knowledge he never has, good man!), and his family was VERY supportive of me breastfeeding.

But my general response to those kinds of reactions? I’m feeding my child the way nature intended. He is getting the best possible nutrition. I am not showing anything obscene, and I do my best to be discreet when breastfeeding, though I do not use a blanket or a cover, nor will I hide in a bathroom or bedroom or vehicle. My son is eating, and if you have a problem with that, then don’t look!

posted on April 13th 2010 at 5:46PM CST

Exactly. I don’t get why people don’t seem to make the connection that formula is actually INFERIOR nutrition. Granted some children NEED that option but the majority do not.

It’s been proven time and time again that breastmilk is best. Formula is NOT “second best” more like fourth best. Right after your own expressed milk and the milk from another individual.

Says a lot!

posted on April 13th 2010 at 5:16PM CST

I had a similar situation with my Mom. She didn’t understand why I didn’t want to cover up in front of my brother. She would always tell me that it would make him uncomfortable. It was really frustrating.

With my first I was a lot shyer and I did cover up, mostly because this is the norm of what I would experience.

I’m currently living in South America and it is so different here. People are much more comfortable and accepting of it. I haven’t covered up once with my 2 month old.

When we get back to the States I will not be covering up. I hope that if people see it enough, it will be the norm not to cover up in the States. I just tell myself that I’m doing a civic duty by not covering up. Otherwise, some kids (like my niece and nephew) might never be exposed to breastfeeding and that’s just a shame.

posted on April 13th 2010 at 5:59PM CST

It drives me INSANE when people project their own feelings about breastfeeding onto younger children and then disguise it as concern for them.

I would respect people more if they were just honest you know?

It really does seem like the US is one of the worst countries when it comes to breastfeeding doesn’t it!

Zoey @ Good Goog
posted on April 14th 2010 at 2:14AM CST

Thankfully it was never a problem when I was breastfeeding my daughter but still can’t believe what an adverse reaction people have to it. I sometimes used a cover and sometimes didn’t. But that was all for MY comfort, not anybody elses.

And that guy involving your son? That’s completely out of order.

posted on April 14th 2010 at 5:28AM CST

Yeah my brother really destroyed ANY chance at a relationship with me and my boys after that day.

posted on April 14th 2010 at 4:24AM CST

I’m very lucky that breastfeeding is the norm for my immediate family. My mum breastfed all of us except my sister (who refused the breast – my mum thinks a midwife gave her formula) so we grew up knowing that breastmilk is superior. Because of that I’ve had nothing but support.

I’m not sure how they’ll feel if and when we get into full term breastfeeding territory, but if they don’t like it, it’ll be their problem & not mine.

posted on April 14th 2010 at 5:29AM CST

That is so great that you were raised in a pro-breastfeeding household!

I feel so bad for your mother though that your sisters chance at breastfeeding was destroyed due to someone giving her formula. That is awful!

I also love that you say FULL TERM breastfeeding, more and more I don’t like the term “extended” because the MINIMUM is two years!

posted on April 14th 2010 at 5:51AM CST

Good for you!
That 19 yo obviously felt happy to be treated as an ADULT by you- you assumed he’d be cool, and he WAS. What a shame that his mother had to butt in.
In my opinion, people accept your breastfeeding, or they get out of your life. It’s their choice. In the meantime, email them some good websites so they can get educated!
So how close is the closest La Leche League to you?
I breastfeed in front of all men. I don’t care. I consider this as a form of respect- that I expect them to be adult and cool enough to handle it. I will admit that one time, I was sitting really close to a young guy- we were in a 4 seater on the train- facing each other- and the latch-on did not go quite as smoothly as expected. I completely flashed him- but he didn’t care. Then again it was also St. Patrick’s day and this train was going into NYC!
It’s actually the young guys, I think, who are the most cool with it, because their minds have not been poisoned, bc breastfeeding ISN’T a part of their life, and they have not heard a bunch of trash talk and prejudice about it, so the exposure they get from us is how we educate them. Sorry for the pun in that last sentence.

posted on April 14th 2010 at 2:20PM CST

Thank you!! I know LLL has a headquarters in Schaumburg which is 20 or so minutes from me. I believe there are a couple of local meetings as well. I just wouldn’t know how to START going. I hate feeling like the newbie at stuff heh.

I LOVE your line of thinking. That it’s a sign of respect for everyone involved to not “assume” it’s going to be a “situation”!

posted on April 14th 2010 at 10:09AM CST

I would tell them all to mind their own damn business! If you don’t want to see me breastfeeding my child, please feel free to look away. No one is making them look.

They are the ones with the problem, not you. Shame on your brother for trying to tell your son what to do! I hate when other adults try to talk to me through my kids.

I would tell people that if they can’t be respectful, then the topic is not up for discussion.

posted on April 14th 2010 at 2:22PM CST

OH I completely agree, my brother DESTROYED any chance of a relationship when he tried to use my son against me, my son who bf’d for FOUR YEARS! Just ugh. I still get upset thinking about the issue!

posted on April 14th 2010 at 5:35PM CST

Hang on there mama, you’re doing a good job! I nursed my first child for 4 years and never cared what people thought and said. I am still breastfeeding my 15 mos son and am even more confident now. When he nurses (in a baby wrap), nobody can tell he’s nursing. I nurse in public and kids seem more ok with that than adults. At the end, don’t get influenced by people who try to make you uncomfortable. Boobies are for babies!

posted on April 14th 2010 at 5:45PM CST

Oh no worries about me getting influenced! I nursed my first son until he self weaned at 4yrs old (he is 8yrs old now). I just get upset at the ignorance for the most part. The older I get the less tolerant I am of peoples snide or rude remarks.

posted on April 15th 2010 at 12:05PM CST

Oh- this makes me sad. She had an opportunity to talk to her son about breasts as NOT always sexual objects and went the other direction. That was an awesome chance for her to share with her son what a natural thing it is, but obviously she doesn’t feel that way. It sounds more like she was uncomfortable with it than he was.

I always go out of my way to breastfeed discreetly because I am self conscious. But it is NOT because I think I need to hide it and anyone ballsy enough to come up and call me out on it is in for an ear full because they’d have to get awfully close up in my personal space to see anything.

This is a big issue I have with raising our son- I hope when he is that kid’s age he’ll know better. breastfeeding is not dirty or sexy or shameful.

(and I’m another one of those commenters whose Mom seems totally creeped out by my breastfeeding, go figure)

posted on April 16th 2010 at 9:47AM CST

Exactly, even if she IS uncomfortable, to not take this as a teaching opportunity… you’re right, it’s sad!

posted on April 15th 2010 at 10:39PM CST

Oh my god, people are so rude :-(
I haven’t had to deal with much resistance to my bf’ing in public, though these days I tend to go into a quiet room because Alexa is too distracted by, well anything, to nurse around other people. I used to NIP all the time though, was much easier than formula…for sure! BTW, totally jealous of your ability to bf while your son is in his car seat. I really want to know how you do that!!

posted on April 16th 2010 at 9:49AM CST

It’s funny in some ways that I’ve not had a stranger say anything to me about NIP yet my family/friends feel “free” to ATTACK me for it.

I seriously still feel that only my twin sister, out of my family and such, is the ONLY person that has NO problem with how/where/how long/etc I breastfeed my kids.

LOL I need to do a post on how to breastfeed baby while baby is in a carseat WHILE buckled in yourself. LOL!!

posted on April 16th 2010 at 11:15AM CST

It seems to me that sometimes friendships end because of how we parent… it’s sad, but true. I simply cannot connect anymore with parents who let their kids CIO, or who don’t AP… I respect that they’re doing the best they can, but I don’t want them in my inner circle, you know? I would feel sooo mad if I were you – that my friend, and my brother, were not supportive of my choices. I would not want to be around them, frankly. The only person in my life that didn’t support my choices was my father – and I chose to not expose him to my daily life because of it. I don’t want my kids to think there’s something wrong with the amazing choices I’m making (breastfeeding/cosleeping, etc.) I’m sorry you had to go through all that. That sucks.

posted on April 19th 2010 at 10:02AM CST

I am completely with you there. I can not CONNECT with people who parent in a way that I feel is detrimental to their children emotionally/health wise/etc.

I can’t smile and try to alleviate someone’s guilt because they CHOSE to formula feed (for example) just because I happen to be nursing my son in front of them.

posted on April 18th 2010 at 12:27PM CST

I’m just amazed that you can breastfeed a baby in a carseat. I never tried that one! People are funny, that’s all I can say. My neice is breastfeeding her baby and she makes so much milk that she pumps and gives it to her 3 year old twins. One of the twins just got diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and my neice was asking me about the number of carbs in breast milk. I was talking about her question and my mom was freaked that she was giving the twins breast milk in a cup. She should just give them cows milk she said. I thought that was so funny, it’s cool coming from a cow but gross coming from their mother. Peculiar!

posted on April 19th 2010 at 11:20AM CST

Thank you! I have mad breastfeeding skills lol! Oh that is SO awesome that she is able to give her twins her milk! Oh yes. I never understood why giving a baby HUMAN breastmilk is shamed/shunned/etc but giving a baby a COWS breastmilk is seen as superior?! Insane right!

posted on October 4th 2010 at 2:02PM CST

How do you feel about circumcision?

posted on October 4th 2010 at 2:04PM CST

Well this post has nothing to do with that topic. I know I’ve brought it up in the past… basically, I don’t see the point of it. Sadly DS1’s bio-father didn’t feel the same way and did it to my first son while I was drugged up from the c-section with him (without my permission). DS2 thankfully did not go through that.

posted on October 4th 2010 at 2:34PM CST

It is quite obvious that this post has nothing to do with this topic. This is my first time at your site, and you brought up the natural parenting community so I was curious about your stance regarding circumcision. I am pretty militant about that topic. I am VERY anti-circumcision. Unfortunately, I find that many people who call themselves “natural” parents who support breastfeeding, etc…have sons with cut penises. It is unfortunate that your own oldest son had to experience this ridiculous procedure without your knowledge. But, I am happy to see that you seem to be educated about this topic!

posted on October 4th 2010 at 3:09PM CST

I’m subscribed to this post, so just jumping in because I have nothing better to do. I think a LOT of women leave it up to their husbands because they have a penis. I find many women who are truly upset about their sons getting cut, but figure it’s not their right to decide.

I highly support educating women about birth, breastfeeding and circumcision. All three can have a big impact on the overall health and life-enjoyment of the child in question, however in my opinion, circumcision is the anti-natural choice that affects the child majorly throughout his entire life.

Sarah – I cannot imagine how horrible that feeling must have been when you learned the bio-dad had Danny circed while you were out of it. I’ve had nightmares of my baby being taken away and circed.

posted on October 4th 2010 at 5:36PM CST

I completely agree with you. Thats why I find it so absurd when I see self-proclaimed “lactivists” with circumcised sons. I am just like “???What???”

posted on December 16th 2011 at 5:07PM CST

It’s really sad how something as NORMAL as breastfeeding your child seems so taboo here is the states, unless it becomes “cool & trendy”. In other countries, people are more tolerable. I applaud women who take a natural approach at having children and living their lives how people USE TO live in the US. It’s like the world has flipped upside down! Fortunately, some women are making a comeback to “old traditions” since a lot of people are trying to live healthier lives. You know your children/families are healthy in the long run and that’s what matters! Keep it up!

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