How To Handle Criticism When Breastfeeding In Public


Many moms decide to breastfeed because of the countless benefits it provides. But, in many cases, some of the negatives, like cracked nipples and mastitis, never cross their minds. Even more so, moms rarely think about things like the criticism they will encounter if they choose to breastfeed in public.

So, what happens if someone judges you when you breastfeed in public? How can you deal with this effectively? Well, you can use these expert-recommended tips.

Remember The Benefits Of Breastfeeding

When you experience criticism about breastfeeding your child, you may internalize the critic’s words and start to question your choices. In some cases, moms even stop breastfeeding because of the judgment and harsh criticism they encounter. However, that’s not an ideal solution.

Instead, the team at Medela recommends that moms remember the benefits of breastfeeding when they encounter criticism in public.

Most experts recommend exclusively breastfeeding during your child’s first six months of life and continuing breastfeeding as long as you and baby find it mutually beneficial. Breastfeeding provides your baby with many benefits for their immune system and overall health, plus it helps keep you healthy too. In addition, it gives your baby the best nutrition and can help mom with weight management. Breastfeeding also helps mom and baby bond.

While these benefits can help you feel more confident about your choice, you can also use them to justify your choice to critics. While this doesn’t always work, it can help demystify breastfeeding, particularly in public settings.

Keep Your Emotions In Check

Nobody likes it when others criticize us, especially when it comes to our parenting choices. In fact, many young moms take these judgmental words to heart and may quickly find themselves spiraling into feelings of anger, sadness, or shame when someone calls them out for breastfeeding in public.

However, the experts at La Leche League International say it’s important to keep your emotions in check when you experience criticism in public. In many cases, your emotions can influence your tone of voice, facial expression, and body language, especially when you interact with critics or try to respond to their judgmental language. They can also cause you to lose confidence or feel ashamed of something that doesn’t necessarily warrant those emotions.

By keeping your emotions in check, you can more effectively navigate situations and avoid dysregulation and responses that will make you feel worse after the fact. If you keep your emotions in check, you can remain calm, think rationally, and communicate more effectively with the person who criticized you. This will not only help you avoid internalizing their words, but it may even help you educate the other person and change their perspective.

Find A Response That Works For You

It’s hard to think clearly in the heat of the moment when someone attacks you or criticizes you for breastfeeding in public. When this happens, you may feel uncertain of what to say if you’re not prepared for this type of situation. For this reason, certified lactation consultant and blogger Kelly Bonyata of KellyMom suggests that mothers arm themselves with responses that work best for them in the face of criticism.

If you prefer to take an educational approach, you can prepare some benefits of breastfeeding to share with the other person. You can also educate them on how breastfeeding works and why your child may need to breastfeed while you are out in public. In many cases, people just don’t realize how breastfeeding works or why it’s so important.

Alternatively, you can also find some general responses that work for specific common criticisms people have about public breastfeeding.

These may include topics like covering up, exposure, or the specific demands of breastfeeding. While the other person may not always be as receptive as you’d like, it will still help you feel more confident if you have a go-to response for their complaints or judgments.

If you’re not the type of person to enter into conflict, you may not feel comfortable with one of those responses. So, instead, you may just want to ignore their comments altogether or find a way just to laugh it off. Sometimes this helps you remain calm and just avoid any further complications, which can be helpful if the person is a complete stranger you don’t plan to see again.

Although criticism of your breastfeeding in public is never a pleasant experience, you can always find ways to deal with people’s harsh words. If you remind yourself of the benefits, keep your emotions in check, and plan out responses that feel most comfortable for you, you’ll be able to navigate these uncomfortable situations with ease.

Previously published on BabyGaga.

Photo by Wendy Wei from Pexels.


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