We Need To Deromanticize Breastfeeding, But Preferably Not Quite This Much

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woman breastfeeding in meadow with flowersBreastfeeding needs to be de-romanticized. That’s been said before, by smarter people than me: we need to stop pitching it as the only real option for ‘good mothers’, or making it sound like a magically easy, hassle-free, painless (ha) alternative to bottle-feeding. That said, there are some levels of de-romanticization that no one needs to be subjected to. And now I’m going to subject you all to one of them. You’re welcome!

Author Kathleen Founds writes for Salon about her take on the ups and downs of breastfeeding, and I found her take on it to be mostly ups. As in, up-chucks. I’m glad that Founds is working to demystify breastfeeding and trying to show that it’s not as wonderful and glamorous as it’s often made out to be, but still, may I suggest that we don’t need to take off quite so much of the shine? I’ll be going on a year of nursing the twins soon here, and I still just about decided to wean cold turkey when I read this:

It was Violet’s face that got the worst of it. She would pop of the breast to grin at me, then bat her eyes, bewildered, as the spray hit her face. Milk soaked into the crevices of her abundant neck rolls. When she went two days without a bath, she smelled like yogurt. When she went three days without a bath, she smelled like cheese.

Breastfeeding tip #1: if your baby smells like cheese, it might be a good idea to bathe her more than once every three days.

Breastfeeding tip #2: if bathing your baby more frequently is not an option, please at least wipe her down with a baby wipe or a wet washcloth before she cultures a new strain of yogurt bacteria under her chin.

Founds also displays an impressively blasé attitude toward showering everyone and everything in her immediate vicinity with breast milk:

When I attempted a discreet feeding at a sushi restaurant, milk sprayed the decorative Shoji screen. When my father-in-law detailed the interior of our car, he was mystified by the dry white flecks on the glove-box, the dashboard, and the passenger seat window. When my sister sat too close, she suffered a shower of droplets on her wine glass. “Eww!” she said, laughing.

“Deal with it,” I said. “You sat in the splash zone.”

Breastfeeding tip #3: Wiping your bodily fluids off of other people’s property is not optional.

Breastfeeding tip #4: If you’re not going to adhere to tip #3, please provide a list of public venues where you have nursed or plan to nurse your baby, so that the rest of us can eat our sushi without having to bring an umbrella into the restaurant.

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  1. Wicked Prophet Kay Sue

    October 20, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    Wow…I am all about de-glamorizing it, because I think glamor does more harm than good in this case…but this is just a little much.

    A “splash zone”? Yikes.

    • candyvines

      October 20, 2014 at 12:12 pm

      I know! Who does she think she is, Gallagher?

    • Valerie

      October 20, 2014 at 12:13 pm


    • Aimee

      October 20, 2014 at 12:23 pm

      Now I’m picturing a lactating Gallagher and I’ll never be the same again. 🙁

    • LadyClodia the Modest Rat

      October 20, 2014 at 1:32 pm

      Thanks for including us in that little nightmare, Aimee. 😛

    • candyvines

      October 20, 2014 at 1:39 pm

      There’s a joke here somewhere about melons.

    • cabecb

      October 20, 2014 at 8:20 pm

      I second the thanks for that mental image.

    • aliceblue

      October 20, 2014 at 7:56 pm

      No. Didn’t you read? She’s “banana” not watermelon.

    • Aimee

      October 20, 2014 at 12:23 pm

      Seriously! Dining out with a breastfeeding friend or family member should not be comparable to sitting in the front row at Sea World.

    • Wicked Prophet Kay Sue

      October 20, 2014 at 12:35 pm

      Should I be envious of her milk productions? I never splashed anyone. 🙁 #Inadequate

    • Katherine Handcock

      October 20, 2014 at 1:08 pm

      Trust me, it’s not something to be jealous of. For both my kids I was easily spending $50 a month on breast pads.

    • Wicked Prophet Kay Sue

      October 20, 2014 at 1:32 pm

      Good to know. I used reusable ones, so I don’t have a comparable statistic. But I did a lot of laundry! I’ll console myself with that. 😉

    • Katherine Handcock

      October 20, 2014 at 2:05 pm

      I got reusable ones when I had Alicia, figuring it would save me a ton of money and I was washing the diapers anyway. It was genuinely laughable. I would spray THROUGH THE PADS. It was probably the most surreal thing I’d ever seen.

      There was only one brand of disposable nursing pad that was absorbant enough to keep me from making a mess on everything, and it was pricey, but it was worth every penny!

  2. Valerie

    October 20, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    Pop off the breast? That is now right up there for “phrase I hate the most” along with “put to breast”. Shudders for days.

  3. Valerie

    October 20, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    And yeah, jeez, bathe your kid more. I know what scent she is referring to and it would happen unless I bathed my babies DAILY. Gross.

    • Aimee

      October 20, 2014 at 12:22 pm

      You don’t even have to use soap every time! You just need to make them not smell like expired dairy products!

    • Valerie

      October 20, 2014 at 1:04 pm

      RIGHT. C had so many neck rolls and milk would get all up in there. I would use baby wipes all day but if I didn’t at least do a quick bath at night, she would smell so gross.

    • Kate Spencer

      October 20, 2014 at 12:24 pm

      I am very guilty of being lazy on the baths.

    • Aimee

      October 20, 2014 at 12:26 pm

      Baths are eh, as long as your kid doesn’t currently have the aroma of overripe blue cheese.

    • Wicked Prophet Kay Sue

      October 20, 2014 at 12:43 pm

      I am unafraid of smell checks. Smell check and yup, he’s good for another day. 😉

    • shel

      October 20, 2014 at 12:46 pm

      Baby wipes… not just for the diaper area 🙂 Or just wipe down the kids face and neck with a wet wash cloth and usually you’re good to go.
      I think we would go weeks at a time without an ‘official’ bath when my little one was an infant. But she was getting regularly wiped down in the dirty places!

    • Valerie

      October 20, 2014 at 1:03 pm

      My first child had more rolls than an Italian restaurant. She would get SO SO smelly if I didn’t bathe her daily.

    • KarenMS

      October 20, 2014 at 1:17 pm

      I was super lazy about baths when my daughter was a newborn, like once or twice per week. BUT she didn’t smell. She didn’t get sweaty, she almost never spit up, never had a blow out….she just laid there being clean. It would have been a problem if I could have started to name all of the dairy products she reminded me of.

    • LadyClodia the Modest Rat

      October 20, 2014 at 1:40 pm

      I was (still sort of am) lazy on baths as long as they weren’t getting dirty. They might not have been bathed every day, but they never smelled.

    • Katherine Handcock

      October 20, 2014 at 1:01 pm

      Or as others have said, at LEAST wipe them down. When Ben was having an eczema breakout we were only supposed to bathe him three times a week max, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t get out a wet washcloth or a wipe and clean all the places where junk would collect otherwise.

  4. LaughingRat

    October 20, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Nope, nope, nope, nope, it will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, EVER be OK to spray your bodily fluids all over your surroundings without cleaning it up. What are you doing, marking your territory? Cover your baby with a tarp while she’s feeding if you know you’ll spout like Moby Dick if she moves her head. Good gods, clean her up if she’s covered in “milkies” instead of letting her fester like that tub of forgotten sour cream we all have in the backs of our fridges. What kind of inconsiderate, unhygienic, self-absorbed person does this? Ew!

    • Wicked Prophet Kay Sue

      October 20, 2014 at 12:43 pm

      Your comment was epic, and also reminded me to put sour cream on my grocery list…

    • SunnyD847

      October 20, 2014 at 1:33 pm

      Maybe this is the person who inspired all those men who want to “whip out” their dicks and piss in public in response to public breastfeeding. I breastfed two kids for over a year each, often in public, and I don’t remember this EVER happening to me.

    • Jennie Blair

      October 20, 2014 at 2:18 pm

      I think self absorbed and inconsiderate hit the nail on the head. She is just like every other idiot out there trying to make herself sound superior, only in this case she is trying to make herself sound cool via middle school bodily functions humor.

    • Rachel James

      October 20, 2014 at 5:40 pm

      Jennie Blair last month my sister‘s boyfriend basically also got a cheque for $7987 workin a sixteen hour week from home and their friend‘s step-aunt`s neighbour done this for four months and got paid over $7987 in their spare time on line. apply the guidelines available at this link,…&nbsphttp://StartworkingwithGoogle&#x32&#48&#x31&#52PartMsq3R..

    • momma425

      October 20, 2014 at 7:34 pm

      If someone sprayed breastmilk into my wine, I would be SO grossed out. If their response was “deal with it,” I think I would lose my mind. Inconsiderate to the max.
      Also, I suddenly never want to eat at a sushi restaurant again.

    • noelle 02

      October 21, 2014 at 12:33 am

      I have spent a long seven years of my life nursing babies and I was blessed with fast-flow nipples. (Sorry!) However, the only time I ever sprayed anything other than baby faces, which were immediately wiped down with my ever present burp cloth, was during sex. I genuinely don’t understand the logistics.

  5. JJ

    October 20, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    I know this woman is trying to be realistic about breastfeeding motherhood (and spraying milk like a fire-hose while doing so) but I’m sorry but she sounds kind of in desperate need of a break. It sounds like she’s trying to write some kind of creepy exotic novel with all her details about spraying and bodily fluid dripping everywhere. You know you could just say something simple like “sometimes the milk sprays so I try to clean it up after and wash the babies face and neck”. You don’t need to be all “I spray milk all over the truck, the table and my loved ones hahahaha deal with it guys”.

    Remind me to be nowhere near this woman in public when she gets her milkies out since she apparently is cool with spraying every surface. Or to wear a hazmat suit to protect myself.

  6. Joye77

    October 20, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    Ew, this lady sounds quite dirty. Not bathing her kid until she smells and not wiping milk spray off of things. Yuck.

  7. Kheldarson

    October 20, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    I’ll admit, this article has made me very glad that my son self-weaned himself already (dude figured out a bottle let him stay mobile. He hasn’t stopped yet!) “Splash zone”? No thanks!

  8. nikki753

    October 20, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    I think that this article should be the official first article in the WTF Mondays series.

    First, if you spray breast milk into my wine and just tell me that’s what I get for sitting in the splash zone, we’re not going to be friends any more. Because you’re an asshat. Sure, you’ll blame it on me not having kids and “all of your childless friends are selfish jerks because they don’t know true love” all that shit but it’s because you are a shitty friend.

    Second, if my kid ever starts telling me that my breasts belong to her, that’s when she’s officially fully weaned. Period. Nope. I let you use them but they’re mine all mine to do with as I please. Jesus. Sounds like the kind of kid who slaps and spanks her mom out in public. I get such heebie jeebies watching kids just smack their parents over and over and the parents just carry on like no big deal.

    ETA: And employ the use of a freaking wet wipe or washcloth if you can’t bathe her as often as she needs. It’s not nice to let shit grow in her folds. Gross.

  9. Ursi

    October 20, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    Gross, wipe your damn baby down. Ugh. Give that child a bath.

    Although I give her props for doing it for so long. You want to breastfeed your kid till kindergarten I will support you 100%. IDGAF. Do it. Screw social norms. Breastfeeding is awesome and I will always support it forever.

  10. tk88

    October 20, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    I find it a bit disconcerting that people breast feed their children so long and give them the idea they they have claims to another person’s body/body parts. I know they’re usually just toddlers and preschoolers, but even young children should be taught that every person is the boss of their own body and you can’t “own” someone else’s body parts nor can they own yours. And really, “night feedings” for a child that age? She should be sleeping through most of the night at that age anyway! And even if she didn’t feeding her is only going to motivate her to want to stay up.

    • Katherine Handcock

      October 20, 2014 at 12:59 pm

      I’m not necessarily against the idea of night feedings for toddlers/preschoolers — that falls under my “Hey, if it works for you” clause — but I definitely agree that kids by that age need to be learning that they don’t have a claim on another person’s body. As in, you can ask for a night feeding, but you have to respect if Mom says no, or says, “You can have milk in your cup, but we’re not nursing.”

  11. Rachel Sea

    October 20, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    Years ago, I was having a girl’s night with friends, and one of them brought her baby. She was feeding in the kitchen at one point, and he unlatched, so that she sprayed milk all over our friend’s floor and counter. She rolled her eyes, and said he did that all the time because he thought it was funny, and indeed, he was cracking up. I handed her a paper towel, and she took a couple swipes at the baby’s face, completely ignoring that she was still spraying the floor, and then she just left it. I never went over to her house again, I imagine it must have lit up like the fourth of July under a blacklight.

    • Katherine Handcock

      October 20, 2014 at 12:57 pm

      See, I had that kind of crazy spray too, although my son never found it funny. The difference is I CLEANED IT UP, because really, that’s what you do.

    • Rachel Sea

      October 20, 2014 at 1:04 pm

      And at a friend’s house too. If she had spilled anything else she probably would have wiped it up, but I guess because it was breastmilk, it was fine?

    • Katherine Handcock

      October 20, 2014 at 1:06 pm

      I’m kind of guessing she might not have wiped up anything else she spilled either…maybe I’m being judgy, but that strikes me as the person who moves a chair over the big wine spill on the carpet.

    • Rachel Sea

      October 20, 2014 at 1:48 pm

      But she wasn’t, she was the kind of person who would help with the dishes and stay after a party to clean up – just not breastmilk, apparently.

    • Katherine Handcock

      October 20, 2014 at 2:03 pm

      That is truly weird!

  12. Grr! Arrgh!

    October 20, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    I dunno…I’m ambivilant about this whole “take the romance out of breastfeeding” trend, not because women don’t need more opinions and resources (I can go on for HOURS about why I think the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is awful paternalistic tripe) but because both camps seem rather reductive. I’m about to start weaning after a year, and I found breastfeeding, like most things in life was too complicated to be reduced to good or bad.

    Sometimes, it was awful: there was a hell of a learning curve, I cried from pain almost every time she latched week 2-3 (and they latch a hell of a lot at that point), sometimes I leaked (though not much after the first 2 months), sometimes I did spray the baby or the couch, though I always cleaned after and, after the first few times, I got pretty good at predicting it and was able to effectively prevent a “spash zone” by the simple use of a spare burp cloth. Sometimes it was a very utilitarian act; my child needed sustainence, so I did it while inattentively while checking email or playing candy crush. But a lot of the time, especially after we got to be a good team, there really was a tinge of magic: snuggling my sleepy baby in the middle of the night, warm and cozy and feeling like we were the only two people in the world, holding her as she difted off to sleep mid-afternoon, finally comforted as she fought her first cold, and even just looking into her eyes this morning all filled me with a profound sense of soft-focus love. For me, breast feeding has come to feel like a very intimate act between me and my child – not because of boobs but because it gives us these opportunities for small, daily moments of quiet, where we focus on each other and the present. Formula is great stuff, I wouldn’t have done this for a year if there weren’t some pretty significant upsides.

    I’m not foolish enough to think that my experience describes anyone else, or that someone who feeds their child another way can’t feel the same sense of connection and intimacy, or bordom, indiference. I do think this is a conversation that requires nuance and I guess I’m just disappointed because I haven’t seen much of that in what I’ve read so far.

    Except the Milkies thing, that is…not okay.

    • guest

      October 20, 2014 at 11:21 pm

      I assure you, your bond with your child was no stronger or “magical” than any formula fed baby on the planet. And the extent of the benefits are actually debatable. I’m just saying, you sound totally convinced of the superiority of your experience.

    • Grr! Arrgh!

      October 21, 2014 at 12:01 am

      Oh, I don’t think my experience was superior at all! What I wanted to convey was that I’ve noticed the articles about not romanticizing breastfeeding I’ve seen recently tend to frame it as an all-or-nothing affair: either it’s all drudgery and spraying everything around you like an uncontrolled fire hose or it’s beatific, soft-focus trancendance in a anthropologie-perfect nursery. My own experience was that it was both, sometimes in the same nursing session (well, not the perfect nursery) and I wish the conversation was more nuanced to refect that.

      Breastfeeding doesn’t make me a better parent or more bonded to my child, and it certainly isn’t the only way for a parent to feel and revel in the deep, intimate connection with their baby. My bad for not making that clear in my first comment.

  13. Katherine Handcock

    October 20, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    Now, I was one of those women who could spray across the room. And actually, the very first part about spraying her kid in the face made me laugh because when he was little, that happened every time to poor Ben. (With Alicia, I got faster with whipping a breast pad into place as she let go.) But that’s where the funny stopped for me. I spent a stupid money on breast pads and carried about five receiving blankets plus a big package of wipes everywhere I went, specifically because I knew there was a chance I might make a bit of a mess and there was no WAY I was leaving it for someone else to deal with. Sharing varied experiences is great; making it seem moms with fast letdown might be leaving splattered milk all over everything is not.

  14. Jennie Blair

    October 20, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    So basically the options are to be the stepford mom of breastfeeding and creep everyone you know out with soft lighting and $400 photo shoots, or disgust everyone you know by taking pleasure in the knowledge that you have made everyone you know barf from tmi.

  15. Véronique the Attachment Shark

    October 20, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    OMG THANK YOU FOR THIS. I read this and went EW all the way through it. First of all I hate it when people give their boobs and breastmilk nicknames. Ugh. Ew. Ewie. Yucky. And why are you not wiping breastmilk off of the surfaces you are splashing. EW.

    • Aimee

      October 20, 2014 at 1:32 pm

      HAHAHA. I was reading it with a look of shock and horror on my face but couldn’t decide if I wanted to cover it or not. Then I got to “milkies” and I was just like …

    • JAN

      October 20, 2014 at 3:04 pm

      I have to admit to calling them “nummies” for my children. For most of my life I’ve disliked any nicknames for breasts but it seemed weird to always ask my child if it wanted a breast. Probably just me though.

      I also don’t have a problem with night nursing, it doesn’t affect anyone but them so none of my business. However, spraying does affect other people so frickin clean up after yourself.

    • noelle 02

      October 21, 2014 at 12:30 am

      I’m with you on a nickname seeming somewhat better.

    • noelle 02

      October 21, 2014 at 12:29 am

      So I’m guessing the fact that my firstborn referred to breastfeeding as moo-moo’s and it stuck for the other two as well wouldn’t thrill you either? I felt like a cow anyway, so calling them moo-moo’s seemed appropriate, somehow. And, when my two year old would say, “I need moo-moo’s” loudly in public, everyone assumed that she needed a cow toy, not to nurse. It worked for us, but two years post nursing my youngest, it does seem insane, somehow.

  16. cheezecake

    October 20, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    ugh ….everything about breastfeeding grosses me out… I never wanted to try and fought hard in the hospital for the lactation lunatics to back the fuck off me …no baby was even going to suck anything out of me. Breastfeeding is overly romantacized, it is the ultimate act of denying women the power to choose what they want to do ..or if they can;t get the knack of breastfeeding it is ok to stop ..just stop…you do not have to do it …you will be fine. your baby will be fine. mine is extremely healthy smart and has had zero ear infections or allergies… don;t believe everything you read about the benefits.

  17. alexesq33

    October 20, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Aimee, this is in my opinion the funniest article you have ever written. Almost sent my ham sandwich out my nose. (ew?)
    also, I formula feed a baby girl with eczema and unfortunately, one bath every 3-4 days = occasional cheese-baby. cannot be helped, even with wet wipes…

  18. Kelly

    October 20, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    THANK YOU. This article has been all over facebook and I wanted to like it but WTAF is wrong with this woman? Look, I get the spraying and the weird neck milk smell but it’s really not that difficult to keep yourself and your baby clean. It’s not that hard to learn the behavior of your boobs and contain yourself appropriately. Jesus. I kind of want to send her a package of cloth diapers in the mail. Also, a note instructing her on the proper use of the phrase “I’m Sorry”, to be deployed when her BREASTMILK flipping sprays onto, well, pretty much anything or anyone around her. FFS.

    • Véronique the Attachment Shark

      October 20, 2014 at 4:55 pm

      and a picture of the proper look of humbled embarrassment…

  19. NotCool

    October 20, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    This article sounds very judgemental. If she can ask for it she’s too old for it… Really? Who cares if this woman lets her daughter call her breasts cookie and banana and breast milk milkys. Why do you care? Why are you judging?? How is this article helping anyone? Very mean girl of you.

  20. Sailor Fruitpunch

    October 20, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    From someone who formula feeds, there is NO STOPPING milk from getting into the neck folds. NONE. Even if you switch to bottle, something in those folds activates and sucks in as much milk as your kid’s mouth does. I bathe (read: water wrestle) my newborn every day because if I don’t, not only does she smell like crusty cheese, she eventually develops a rash.

    Feeding your child is going to have nightmarish consequences regardless if you’re using boobs, bottles, or spoons. It’s just part of the magic.

    • Kelly

      October 21, 2014 at 1:36 pm

      I don’t bath my child every day because it drys out her skin but especially if we are going somewhere and I know that people will be holding her, I will wipe her neck folds with a wipe and put lotion on her head. That way everyone thinks that I just gave her a bath and she will have that amazing baby smell.

  21. lpag

    October 20, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    I just gotta say, there is a good reason not to call them boobies. If you nurse into toddlerhood, you don’t want your child screaming “BOOOOBIES!!!” in public. Then again, “milkies” doesn’t help much, because that’s obvious too. My solution? We refer to breastmilk as Lon Lon (if you’re a fan of Legends of Zelda, you’ll get the reference). Kid yelling for Lon Lon doesn’t raise eyebrows, people just figured it’s one of those words only the parents of the individual child can understand until they learn to say it properly.

    • noelle 02

      October 21, 2014 at 12:38 am

      I’m with you. Moo-moos worked for us.

    • iamtheshoshie

      October 21, 2014 at 12:48 am

      My son is pre-verbal, but I just call it nursing or milk. I’m really hoping to avoid a cutesy name situation.

  22. jendra_berri

    October 20, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    I’d need a very prolonged break from anyone who unapologetically sprayed me with their breastmilk.

  23. ChickenKira

    October 21, 2014 at 5:03 am

    Splash zone?
    What? How far does this kid spit up?

  24. Suzanne Proulx Wilson

    October 21, 2014 at 9:19 am

    I almost never went out to restaurants when I was breastfeeding, but then, I didn’t have a car or a desire to go. I enjoyed nursing. I took the relaxed approach to breastfeeding…if they were hungry, they nursed. If it was time for bed and they needed the comfort, they nursed (most times they fell asleep before 5 minutes were up). I didn’t worry about weaning or anything. My oldest liked to nurse in bed sometimes, but it was only when I was soooo exhausted that it seemed the simplest option. I had to make a point of covering the other nipple with a receiving blanket though. My youngest preferred nursing on the couch, so that was where I fell asleep. My oldest weaned herself at 15 months old. Her little sister weaned just two weeks after her first birthday.

    As for spraying, that was never a problem with us. Even if it happened though, (like into my cereal or something?) it just blended in. No biggie.

  25. Ginja

    October 21, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    Scrolled through the comments and didn’t see anyone refer to this, so yay me! It is not the same person, but if she was provoked…

  26. Pingback: Ew: Thief Sprays Breast Milk At German Pharmacy

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