Breastfeeding in Public- You’ve Got This

by Jessica Martin-Weber
This post is generously made possible by Bamboobies

bamboobies banner - 2016

Not sure about baring your breast, at least partially, and feeding your baby in public?

Mama, you’ve got this.

If you’re uncomfortable with breastfeeding your baby while out and about you’re not alone. Many women experience some nervousness over feeding their baby away from home. It’s no wonder either, spend any time on social media and it would seem that women are regularly experiencing harassment for breastfeeding in public.

Thankfully, that isn’t really the case. Out of hundreds of thousands of breastfeeding moms every single day, only a a couple of dozen or so will end up on the news talking about harassment she experienced for feeding her baby. A few more may experience negative comments or looks from strangers or more likely, friends and family. But more often than not, breastfeeding in public is either appreciated and encouraged or not even noticed. Far more women have positive breastfeeding in public stories than harassment stories.

With that in mind, there are some steps a breastfeeding mom can take to help her feel more comfortable with breastfeeding in public. Drawing from 17 years of off and on, mostly on, breastfeeding experience and from helping others in their journey, there are a few ways I have found can make it all a little easier.

*A note about covering to breastfeed in public. Covering is a matter of personal preference. Do what works for you and what will help you reach your personal breastfeeding goals. Whatever you choose to do, I encourage you to make the decision for yourself, not for others. If you choose to cover, do so because you feel more comfortable covered, not because you want other people to feel more comfortable.


You've got this cobranded image 2016 pt.2

Get comfortable. Breastfeeding may be natural but it is a skill to develop for both you and your baby. Getting comfortable with it may take a little time for both of you and being able to develop that skill in the comfort of your own home in those early days will go a long way for when you need to breastfeed on the go. Get comfortable with breastfeeding with your baby, when you feel like you know what you’re doing it will be a lot less intimidating. This doesn’t mean you can’t leave the house until then, just that the more time you spend breastfeeding where you feel safe the more you’ll feel confident in other settings. You’ve got this.

Practice. Does practice make perfect or is it practice makes permanent? Either way, practicing can be a game changer. Practice breastfeeding in public as soon as you can with baby steps. Breastfeed in front of people you feel safe with- your partner, your best friends, family, etc. Work your way up gradually to breastfeed around people you’re not sure are supportive. Two of the most effective ways to practice breastfeeding in public are 1) breastfeed in front of a mirror and 2) practice what you would say if someone was to harass you for feeding your baby. By breastfeeding in front of a mirror or by video recording yourself feeding, you may find you don’t expose as much as you feared. By have a prepared response to possible negative reactions to you feeding your baby, you may find you feel equipped. Plus, the more prepared you are to stand up for your baby’s right to be fed, the less likely you’ll ever need to. You’ve got this.

Get the tools you need. Have boob, feed baby! But you may feel more comfortable with some additional items. A nursing bra or tank, nursing pads (or breast pads) so if you leak your shirt stays dry, breastfeeding top or dress, easy access clothing, a portable breastfeeding pillow, a nursing cover, a water bottle, etc. Figure out what is going to help you feel more comfortable and secure to confidently feed in public. Having clothing that works for you to get a breast out is crucial (avoid back zip up high neck dresses!) whether you’re lifting from the bottom, doing the two layer method so your tummy and back are covered, pulling down from the top, using clothing designed specifically for breastfeeding, or choosing a breastfeeding cover. Having the tools that work for you can be a big confidence boost. You’ve got this.

See it. One of the reasons we may be uncomfortable feeding in public is because we’re not used to seeing it. It seems weird to us and we’re the ones having to do it! Seeing it can help a lot. Look at breastfeeding photos on social media (check out the hashtags #beautifulbfing, #brelfie, #normalizebreastfeeding, and yes, #breastfeeding), attend a parenting group that supports breastfeeding, spend time with friends who are breastfeeding. And if you’re really anxious about breastfeeding in public, go out with other women who breastfeed your first few times. There’s strength in numbers. You’ve got this.

Be informed. Most areas have laws protecting breastfeeding in public. While there aren’t really any teeth to those laws, breastfeeding in public isn’t illegal and is protected in most places. We shouldn’t have to but knowing the law, even having it printed out and with you, puts you in a position of being informed of your rights. Feel confident that the law is on your side. You’ve got this.

Focus. Now that you’ve done the prep work, when it’s time to feed your baby, just focus on feeding your baby. Don’t look for the negative, look at the positive right there in front of you. Shut out the world for just a moment and draw strength and courage in this shared time together. Focus on your baby and let any negative reactions pass you right by. You’ve got this.

Let it go. You are not responsible for the thoughts and feelings of others, particularly when it comes to you caring for your children. Sure, some may disapprove, some may be offended, some may take issue with breastfeeding in public, but it isn’t your job to protect them from what offends them and it certainly isn’t your job to sacrifice your child’s needs for someone else’s comfort. Let it go, you can’t make everyone happy but you can ensure that your little one is. You’ve got this.

You matter. Your baby matters. You deserve to live life fully, feeding your little one with confidence. It isn’t asking too much to feed your baby in peace out in the world as you live your life. You’ve got this.

Breastfeeding in public, you’ve totally got this.


Check out the Bamboobies nursing shawl, it’s practical for breastfeeding and long after as a fashion accessory!


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Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of, co-creator of, and creator and author of the children’s book and community of What Love Tastes Like, supporter of A Girl With A View, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. She co-parents her 6 daughters with her husband of 19 years and is currently writing her first creative non-fiction book.

I’ve Become a Creepy Mom

by Jessica Martin-Weber

There are so many things I never imagined I would do before becoming a mother. There was a list that I was aware of but I had no idea that there would be things I would do that I never even considered. My list had the typical items: never let child… whatever, doesn’t matter because we all know that was a joke. I thought I would never use my spit to clean my child’s face (ok, but for real, children are dirty and it is gross but my spit IS actually cleaner than some of the crust I’ve cleaned off their faces), never yell in public (but for real, they do run toward the street like it’s a bouncy house), have my kids in matching clothes (now I consider it a success if the clothes are mostly clean, bonus if they fit), not allow screen time (snort), and all the other typical I’ll-be-the-perfect-parent-don’t-have-kids-yet ideology.

What I didn’t anticipate is that I would become a creeper.

I totally have. It snuck up on me. Like reaching out to touch another mom’s hair and admiring that she showered… but it was so clean and it smelled so good. Or seeing a cute baby and saying how I could just eat them up.

Admit it, that is a totally creepy thing to thing… and I’ve actually said it out loud to people.

I was a total creeper in church on Sunday.

We go to a big church downtown, regal and very traditional with a huge pipe organ, robes, and a classical choir. And the coolest red doors. It’s beautiful and reverent.

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One pew back and across the aisle there was a young mom with an adorable chubby little baby girl. She made the cutest coos and happy sounds, taking in the sights and sounds of the service.

I wanted to give her a little nibble.

(Look, before you judge me about that, there’s a scientific reason we feel compelled to bite cute things. It’s real and it is even a good thing!  I’ve never done it… hard.)

But that isn’t the creepiest part of this story.

This adorable little girl finally got tired and somewhere between reading the epistle and singing the hymn before the sermon, she began to fuss. Mom-radar up, I recognized that fuss. She was hungry. I glanced back, because even hungry babies that belong to other people make my boobs ready to leak into action.

Now, I didn’t care if she was given a bottle or given a boob, I just needed to see the adorable baby I wanted to nibble being fed when she was hungry. It was important to me, an almost physical ache. So I was relieved to see this effortlessly beautiful mother (seriously, I knew she was tired but she made tired look good and her hair was a little messy but it was like the perfect sexy messy beach updo and she rocked it) fiddling and in motion to feed the hungry baby I was ready to spring over the pew to feed.

I saw nothing but I knew. No breast came flying out, no milk spraying anywhere, no nipple pointed at anyone, just a suddenly quiet baby making nothing more than happy grunts as her mother cradled her.

She was breastfeeding.

Right there, in our regal church as the Gospel was being read.


Photo Credit: Second Ave Photography (IG: secondavephotog)


In full on creep mode, I kept looking back at the pair. Contented baby at the breast, attentive mother gazing at her.

And as cheesy as it sounds, I felt caught up in the moment of worship. Not of this mother and child, not of breastfeeding, but of the God I believe designed us to be able to do this. As songs were sung, Scripture was read, and a homily shared, I was witnessing love in action and God’s design being celebrated as all designs should be celebrated: through the beauty of their function.

(I believe I would have felt the same if it was bottle-feeding, in fact, I know I would have, I have before.)

Before anyone goes there, though some probably already have and probably will no matter what, this isn’t a debate about modesty since we’re talking about feeding a baby. If you wouldn’t bring modesty to the discussion of giving a baby a bottle, it has no business being a part of the discussion at all. To debate that point, head over here.

To complete my creepiness, following the service I went up to the mother and thanked her. THANKED HER for bringing her baby into the service and caring for her as she worshiped. What an act of worship, to show love, to embrace the body she has been blessed with, to nurture her child. I thanked her too for feeding her baby how she feeds her baby and that my daughters saw this act as well. Thank you, I told her, for helping change the culture so maybe our daughters won’t be nervous about their bodies feeding their babies in church some day as well.

We chatted a bit, her mother was with her and they both thanked me for saying something. She had been nervous about breastfeeding in worship and it was good to hear that it was ok.

I can’t imagine a place where it should be more ok, I told her. According to our faith, God made her, and acting as she is designed isn’t a flaw, it isn’t shameful, it isn’t inappropriate. Pretty sure God can handle breasts being used to feed babies even in the place of worship.

Not everyone is going to be comfortable breastfeeding in public with or without a cover and many who are fine with it in most settings aren’t in their place of worship. That’s ok, the most reverent and sacrificial act of worship any parent can do is to care for their child(ren) no matter how it is done.

From the creepy mom in the pew over, thank you for doing so.

Jessica Martin-Weber Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of, co-creator of, and creator and author of the children’s book and community of What Love Tastes Like, supporter of A Girl With A View, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. She co-parents her 6 daughters with her husband of 19 years and is currently writing her first creative non-fiction book.

Infant and Child Feeding Advocacy- Why I Continue

by Jessica Martin-Weber

Recently in a Facebook group for people of faith who are interested in egalitarian theology, I ran across a thread that surprised me. Not because there was debate, debate is common in that group and usually inspires quality conversations promoting reflection. No, what was surprising about this to me was that in a group that at least believes in the equality of the sexes and the cultural conditioning of controlling women, breastfeeding in public and how exposed a woman’s chest should be while feeding her baby was somehow debated with the same old arguments I’ve heard against breastfeeding in public and how women should be covered when feeding their babies in other settings.

It had never occurred to me that this would be an issue in that setting.

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I’ve moved beyond the debates, the arguments are tired as far as I’m concerned. Five and a half years into running The Leaky Boob I’ve heard all the arguments and not just online. People will say they never experience any negativity except online, as though it must not exist because they haven’t encountered it personally. But I have, I’ve heard all the arguments in person, to my face. Every day I hear from women who’ve been criticized and shamed by a family member, lost friends for breastfeeding in front of their husband, and been isolated for feeding in public. I actually had a business owner of a brand that makes nursing covers tell me, to my face, that he feels breastfeeding covers are important for society and women that breastfeed in public without a cover, whipping their breast out in front of others to feed their baby (his words, not mine) are just “selfish bitches, no offense.”

Yes, he said that even as I stood there with a name tag that read “The Leaky Boob.” And yes, offense taken. I walked out and will never work with his company.

I don’t engage in the infant/toddler feeding debates often but I do continue showing up for them. Not because I enjoy it, believe me I don’t. I hate it and I feel burned out. But I will be the voice for those reading or overhearing saying what needs to be said. For that mom reading or listening and heartbroken to hear the harsh words someone she loved said to her echoed in the words of a stranger, shaming her further. It is assumed I must not understand the reasons why this is an issue but the fact is, I do understand them. I get it. I’ve processed them. At one point in time I may have agreed and argued that position myself.

It’s just that they are wrong. Be the arguments and shaming debates about breastfeeding, breastfeeding in public, bottle feeding, pumping, formula feeding, donor breastmilk, or even introducing solids, often the arguments are short-sighted, limited, and full of vitriol. The arguments are full of fallacies and more often than not are missing the real point.

Babies are being fed.

When it comes to feeding support and advocacy (and really, anything else), you don’t get to control women. Not even if you’re another woman.

But why do I keep fighting this fight?

Because I believe that every parent should be able to parent with confidence, free of harassment and shaming from others. Because parenting is hard enough. And because women get enough shit about their bodies as it is.

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Why be a parenting and feeding advocate? The biggest reason I continue fighting this fight is because I have daughters and I want better for them.

Every day I facilitate online support for thousands and thousands of women who are breastfeeding, planning to breastfeed, or have finished breastfeeding. I travel and speak all around the country on breastfeeding and parenting and sit with women as they share, in tears, the agony they have felt in being rejected by people who have told them that they “don’t want to see that.” Every single day I hear from women who find themselves struggling with confidence in feeding their babies, something that may shake them to their core because, after all, feeding your child is one of the most basic aspects of parenting.

For a parent, struggling with feeding their baby can easily lead to self-doubt in their parenting capabilities at all.

Often, it does.

These parents, for obvious reasons, mostly female, regularly express anxiety about feeding in public. That they may attract unwanted negative attention, fear someone being upset at them for what they may be exposing or even for the act of breastfeeding itself, dread that they may be asked to cover up or leave- maybe a waiter, a relative, a pastor, another woman at church, a mall security guard, an angry bus passenger, etc.- humiliating her and anyone she is with. In the quest to feed their children the best way, as society loves to claim but fails to back up with genuine support offering instead isolating platitudes that it is best but must be “discreet” or “with tact”.

Worse, so often these mothers, in a very vulnerable place as they embark on a new life stage with a new tiny human, hear they are somehow not only responsible for feeding their child the “best way” but also to be respectful of anyone else around them, to be sure grown men aren’t caused to stumble in her attempts to care for her child and that grown women aren’t threatened by her body.

And then the baby needs all her attention and lots of room to latch properly and not cause excruciating pain and damage to her nipple, or they overheat under a cover, or their personality causes them to experience anxiety under the cover, and it is impossible to manage without “wiping” it out and “flashing” the whole world.

All she wants to do is feed her baby.

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Instead of being able to focus just on that she knows that some are demanding that she focus on their comfort about what they see of her body as well. As if the worst thing wouldn’t be a baby going hungry but that they may see the skin of her breasts, her stretch marks, the fact that a child is attached to her nipple.

Eventually they either think they can’t do it or they aren’t cut out for it or that they should just never leave the house. A few get angry that this is how our society treats them and their fellow mothers. And they muscle through and turn off a part of themselves that had hoped their would have at least been solidarity from other women. They have had enough and decide to keep feeding their child as if they were doing nothing wrong- because they are doing nothing wrong- and eventually they start to believe it. So to show other women who may be struggling too, they keep going. They know they are being judged but if it helps ONE other mother to not feel isolated, judged, and fighting off shame, it is worth it. And it is the hope that it will help lead to a gradual shift in our society,  and someday every new mom will feel confident in their parenting, their bodies, their personhood and it will no longer be considered brave to feed your baby however you feed your baby.

Because we must believe that some day our bodies won’t be scandalous and feeding our children won’t be shameful and discussed with outrage.

Until that day, this is an issue I will help wrestle with. Because I know what it like to support mom after mom who feels like maybe she’s not good enough to be a mother because she couldn’t handle the stress of feeding her baby the best way while making sure nobody ever knew that it was happening. I know what it is like to hold them as they weep over the shame they have felt when someone said to them to be more discreet as if feeding their baby was something shameful and their bodies something dirty.

For those women and the ones to come, I will continue on.


Jessica Martin-Weber Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of, co-creator of, and creator and author of the children’s book and community of What Love Tastes Like, supporter of A Girl With A View, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. She co-parents her 6 daughters with her husband of 19 years and is currently writing her first creative non-fiction book.

TLB Comic: How to Handle Breastfeeding In Public

by Jessica Martin-Weber, illustrated by Jennie Bernstein


09.04.15, funny friday, TLB comic


Ok, that never happens. Breasts are never out in public, they are always put away in a containing device that doesn’t bring any attention to them whatsoever.

Except for beer ads.

And car ads.

And lingerie ads.

And gun show ads.

And vacation ads.

And watch ads.

And jewelry ads.

And mall ads.

And liquor ads

And that’s just what I saw today on my train ride. The lingerie ad was on the side of a bus and each breast was bigger than my head.

But otherwise breasts are totally hidden from view.

Which is good because can you imagine what would happen if we saw breasts? Specially breasts feeding babies.

Breasts are particularly always hidden from children because seeing breasts will leave them thinking breasts are a normal body part for women scar them for life. Even more so if the manner in which they see breasts doesn’t involve lacy bras or pasties or provocative poses.

We can’t have that now, can we? I mean, how would we explain to kids what is going on if they see a mother breastfeeding? The horrors! The mountain of therapy bills! The child that will think maybe women have bodily autonomy! (Here, if this nightmare should happen to you or someone you know, here’s what to tell a child should they see a mother breastfeeding. We can hold your hand through this, don’t worry, it will be ok.)

Thankfully, most of the time breastfeeding moms aren’t going to encounter any issue when they feed their babies in public. Given how often it is in the news and social media you would think it happens every single time a woman feeds her baby but alas, no. (Does anyone else wonder how all these shop owners and managers have missed the gigantic social media memo DON’T BOTHER BREASTFEEDING MOTHERS OR YOU WILL BE TORCHED ON THE INTERNET IN A HUGE PR NIGHTMARE!) Though the stories of women being harassed are what make the news, millions of mothers around the world feed their babies every day without interference. Shocking, I know. The most negative response the majority of women will ever receive may be a dirty look.

But what if you’re one of those unfortunate women who ends up with an ignorant and pushy individual demanding you leave an area or cover your baby and yourself while you feed your little one? How do you handle it? How do you handle it and keep your sanity intact?  How do you handle it and keep your sanity intact and not end up going to jail?

We have a few suggestions. Take them or leave them. They’re not all going to apply to every situation and they may not be the best in the moment but hopefully they’ll provide some levity to the situation and keep you from losing your mind. What’s left of it from baby brain anyway. (You guys, that’s a thing. For real. Science says so. Maybe not quite what you think but it is a thing.)

How to handle negative reactions about feeding your baby in public.

  1. Smile. And think whatever you want in your head. You seem nice and approachable and it isn’t going to scare your kids but you could be thinking a string of profanity and they would never know. You could even start composing your Facebook status and tweets now to share the incident with your closest 2,000 friends.
  2. Practice. In the mirror or with a friend get an idea of what you would like to say should you ever experience someone offended by babies eating telling you to leave or cover. Knowing what you want to say could help. Whether you practice your “EFF YOU” to be sure it has the right amount of conviction or elect for a more diplomatic response (to tone it down you can try “go away” for starters followed by “you’re joking right?” and then if necessary “have you ever seen the news or been on social media? Don’t you know this isn’t going to end well?”), being prepared can help you resist the knee-jerk reaction of kicking them in the crotch.
  3. Be sympathetic. That they are a repressed and confused individual regarding women’s bodies and how babies are fed isn’t entirely all their fault. They are a product of their culture that prioritizes the over emphasis on the sexual nature of the female breast and regularly objectifies women. Being offended by seeing a baby being fed may be something they haven’t yet developed the skills to accept personal responsibility for and figure out how to handle themselves. From your deep well of sympathy for their condition, you could even offer them the name of a therapist that you would recommend to help them with their issues. That would be so nice of you.
  4. Find a blanket. True, they could and probably should do this for themselves but as mentioned above, their condition may impair their ability to take personal responsibility. So you could find a blanket, a jacket, sweater, towel, dish rag, even a paper napkin for them to put over their head so as to block the feeding baby from their view. Do warn them that it may get hot under there, they may miss other aspects of life going on around them, and it could be cumbersome in general which could actually be dangerous, but let them know you’ll yell loudly which direction to step if something is coming toward them. Might they be uncomfortable? Sure, but at least they won’t be offended.
  5. Have the law handy. Is it reasonable to expect people to know the law? Of course not! Specially if they are a business, they have so much to keep track of and can’t be expected to properly train their employees on costumer service or what the law actually says. Your local breastfeeding coalition may have nifty little cards you can print on their website with the actual legal code and everything. But there are a LOT of laws out there, too many to keep up with for even the most law abiding citizen. So help them out by knowing which laws pertain to you and having it ready. They may even thank you for helping them avoid a law suit! Wouldn’t that be nice.

We could go on, there are as many ways to handle such an experience as there are people willing to make those experiences happen. We’d love to hear your ideas, comment below with your suggestions.



Discounts, Giveaway, Milk, and Moving!




Dear Leakies,

I’m going to keep this short and sweet:


It’s time for #TLBmoves and we’re working up a sweat and to an awesome giveaway with our friends from Tula, ThinkBaby ThinkSport, Belabumbum Active Wear, and Eyla’s Imports. Find out more information here.

Whatever it looks like for you, we’re supporting each other on getting moving towards health and wholeness. For many of us, learning about and then actually feeding our babies was the gateway to more conscientious living, a sort of snowball effect. Establishing health habits as a way of life is, of course, a good thing. And the family that moves together is healthy together. (For some inspiration, here’s 100 years of fitness fads in 100 seconds video fun.) Share your journey with us using the hashtag #TLBmoves on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and if you’d like to go deeper, submit your story like Kelsey by emailing [email protected].

I’m enjoying moving with my family and I’m moving closer and closer to Milk! Bringing together many of the people who inspire me, I’ve created Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference with Xza Higgins, founder of MommyCon. Taking place in L.A. July 31st and August 1st, this conference is for health care providers (offering continuing education credits and contact hours) and families. Founded on the belief that infant feeding support makes a difference and can directly influence confidence levels in parents, MiLK focuses on information sharing and mindful support that builds parents up without tearing down, respecting the unique journey of each of us. MiLK aims to actively educate and support infant feeding by connecting health care providers and the families they care for discussing breastfeeding, formula feeding, breastmilk pumping, at the breast supplementing, bottle feeding, cup feeding, spoon feeding… FEEDING. This is not, to be clear, a breastfeeding conference. It is an infant feeding conference with a goal of bringing together health care providers and parents where we can learn from each other. Most importantly, I hope we learn how to really listen and what support can really looks like.

To help you move that direction with me, we have a huge giveaway that includes enough tickets for your local breastfeeding group! For that extra newsletter entry option, GET YOUR INFORMATION HERE!


Breastfeeding Discrimination and Mountain Home Air Force Base- Interview with Breastfeeding In Combat Boots

by Jessica Martin-Weber

Every day we see evidence that parents feeding their babies is in being more and more accepted with less judgment, discrimination, and hostility from the world around them. Though we may hear more about the discrimination and public shaming of babies being fed, the truth is, there are more stories where such feedings either go unnoticed or even outright supported. We see better policies, laws, and even health care being put into place that encourages and facilitates moms in reaching their breastfeeding goals. It’s encouraging to know that we’re making progress.

Which is why it is so incredibly disappointing and discouraging when we encounter discrimination and barriers in that progress, even more so from those who are in leadership and positions of influence.
On April 16, 2015, Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho released a memorandum regarding the official breastfeeding in public base policy by Commander David Iverson. On April 21, 2015 Breastfeeding in Combat Boot’s Facebook community posted the memorandum they had received from a member impacted by this new policy on their page, which you can see here and below.
Mountain Home Air Force Base Breastfeeding policy memorandum
For some this was at least sounding supportive of breastfeeding and trying to be sensitive to everyone. For others though, this was quite a blow. For US Navy veteran and IBCLC Robyn Roche-Paull, author of the book Breastfeeding in Combat Boots and owner of the website and social media communities of the same name, this was particularly disappointing to see. The mom 3 wrote her book and launched her website inspired by her own struggles with breastfeeding in the military with a desire to support other families and help see change happen that would better support military moms.  In short order word of this new policy on MHAFB spread like wild-fire on social media and an informal campaign was launched to voice concerns regarding the policy. At the time of publishing this article, the base had release a revised statement rescinding the policy until further notice in response to the efforts of those supporting breastfed babies. Still, it is clear in the the new statement that this may not be entirely resolved.
As a civilian, I wanted to better understand the situation before reacting and reached out to Robyn. She graciously agreed to answer my questions and I’m happy to share the conversation here with you. Robyn explains what all this means, why it matters, and what we can do about it.
TLB: What exactly is this? For those of us unfamiliar with military procedures, could you explain what this memorandum is and how this impacts the lives of those who work and live on Mountain Home Air Force Base?

Robyn: A memorandum is how the military puts out new policies that affect personnel (military and civilian alike that work and live onboard the installation).  Memorandums are generally reviewed by the base legal department and signed off by the Commander of the installation.  They are to be followed and obeyed by those who live and work on the installation, and should they not be obeyed, those persons can be subject to disciplinary action.  In the case of civil service personnel they can lose their jobs over an infraction if severe enough, and for civilians married to military personnel, the military person (or sponsor) would be subject to the disciplinary action since the military person (sponsor) is responsible for their spouse/children (dependent) actions.

TLB: The memorandum for Mountain Home Air Force Base personnel from Colonel David R. Iverson, Commander of the base has 5 main points. At first glance it would seem these points are positive and in support of breastfeeding with language that expresses respecting the rights of nursing mothers in accordance with the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014. Is this actually supportive of breastfeeding and protecting the rights of babies to be fed or is there something else going on here?

Robyn: At first glance it does seem to be supportive of breastfeeding since they are providing an office or room for the breastfeeding mom to use.  But reading further it is stipulated that should the mother not wish to use the room, she then MUST use a breastfeeding cover. If she refuses to cover herself then she will asked to leave the premises.    This applies to individuals in “customer service” areas, which on most military installations means anyplace where administrative tasks are completed such as in or out-processing, housing offices, Personnel Support Departments, Medical/Dental waiting areas, etc.  Places where the mother is most likely waiting in line or has a number to be called to be seen.  If she leaves to the area to go breastfeed her child, she now has lost her place in line or misses hearing her number called and has to start the process over again.

The memo goes on to state that this “sort of accommodation supports nursing mothers while also respecting the ‘sensitivities’ of other base personnel and preserves the good order of the military”.  This is anything but supportive of breastfeeding mothers, and is in every way looking out for the possibility of offending other people who might come in contact with the breastfeeding mother, and more importantly, it is putting the needs of the military’s good order and discipline ahead the needs of a hungry infant.  I can only assume that the many twenty-something young Airmen will not be able to control themselves when confronted with a breastfeeding baby and so they need to be protected from witnessing the act lest they attack the mother for being sexually provocative because they caught sight of a little side boob?  I don’t know….
TLB: It seems it is worth noting that only babies and children that are breastfed are impacted in this ruling, is that correct? Bottle-fed infants and children would be permitted to be fed in the same settings that breastfed children will be asked to move to a private room or cover?
Robyn: Yes, it would seem that the policy, as written, only affects breastfed babies and children.  They will be asked to cover or leave while bottle-fed babies and children will not be required to cover or leave.  This fact alone makes the policy discriminatory towards breastfeeding dyads, and introduces the whole concept that there is something inherently wrong or sexual about breastfeeding that requires removal from the area or covering up.
TLB:Is there a precedence set for this kind of discrimination against breastfed infants and children at other bases? Are there other military facilities that have instituted similar policies? Are there any that have taken a more supportive position in regards to infants and children that are fed at the breast of their mothers?

Robyn: There is precedence for this type of discrimination at other military bases.  In 2007 Ft. Bragg had an incident at the BX (Base Exchange, a military only store that carries everything…much like a Walmart) where a worker was told she could not breastfeed her infant on her break because the Exchange had a policy forbidding it. And again in 2011 an Army spouse and breastfeeding mother was asked to leave the housing office at Ft. Bragg because she was breastfeeding her daughter.  In March of 2013, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii had an incident at the out-processing facility with a mother breastfeeding while waiting in line to have her paperwork processed, she was accused of indecent exposure and asked to leave, her active duty husband was threatened with legal action if she didn’t comply.  Later that month, at Schofield Barracks, also in Hawaii, an incident at the Commissary (a grocery store for military personnel) mothers were asked to leave when breastfeeding their infants, and then a policy was put in place requiring breastfeeding mothers to be ‘discreet’ and cover themselves or leave if they were breastfeeding in order to protect the other patrons from having to see the act going on.   In some cases, public outrage and the power of social media, along with education made it possible to rescind the policies and have better ones that were breastfeeding friendly put in place instead, but not in all cases. See my Blog post here regarding another incident.

TLB: Are there any military facilities that have instituted policies that are truly supportive of breastfeeding in public? Could you share with us examples of what such support looks like in policy? Is there a military base that Mountain Home Air Force Base could learn from in supporting breastfeeding children and their families?
Robyn: There are no specific policies that I am aware of at this time that are supportive of Breastfeeding in public.  There are a few that have it included within another breastfeeding policy (like the one at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth which includes a statement that breastfeeding is allowed anywhere within the hospital, but a room can be provided if the mother chooses). I know that the Commanding Officer at Naval Base Ventura County in California made a public statement in the base newspaper that breastfeeding women could do so anywhere and anytime in accordance with California law. But there is no formal policy stating that.
TLB: The memorandum mentions concerns of exposure in public settings, what does this stem from and is there something uniquely particular about this concern on a military base? Is there a reason that this policy would be necessary on base when there are laws protecting breastfeeding babies (and their mothers) on a federal level?

Robyn: I think this stems from concerns about anything that might be considered sexual (even though we know breastfeeding is about feeding a child, not sex!) within the military environment and to also maintain good order and discipline. Its complicated in the military. There is a running and deep-seated fear about sexuality, sexual assault, and sexual harassment that has everyone on point and scared to do or say anything that might be construed as sexual.  I think too that the military in many ways is very conservative and old-fashioned and also still a very male-dominated workplace (only 15% of all military personnel are women), so ANYTHING that might be seen as sexual, i.e. breasts are off-limits and cannot be seen, even if they are just being used to feed a child.  There are bans on girly magazines now at military exchanges (they used to be out where anyone could see the covers) and many installations DO have dress codes and policies concerning what individuals can and cannot wear at the gym, pool, Commissary, Exchange (such as booty shorts, saggy shorts, midriffs, etc.) This unfortunately is an extension of that, without taking into account that the baby or child needs to or is being fed.  (See also my answer above! )  With that said, as a military veteran and spouse, and an IBCLC and advocate for breastfeeding in the military…. I just cant see a reason for this policy to be in place when there are federal laws to protect breastfeeding mothers and babies while on federal property.  I just don’t understand where this came from.  I might have more understanding of the ’need’ for a policy if there had been an ‘incident’ that prompted this policy.  But so far it seems as though it sprang up out of nowhere.

TLB: Speaking of laws, though the state of Idaho has no laws regarding breastfeeding, there is a federal law in place protecting a woman’s right to breastfeed, how can the Commander Iverson institute policies and procedures that are in violation of that law? Are breastfeeding children and their mothers protected by that federal law? What do they risk in refusing to comply with this new base policy?
Robyn: This is where it gets tricky.  There are State laws and Federal laws and then there are Military laws.  Federal trumps State and in some cases Military trumps Federal. However this particular policy only applies to civilian personnel, so it would seem that Federal law wins and breastfeeding mothers and children ARE protected.  I have spoken with a couple of Judge Advocate General (JAG) officers (military lawyers) who basically have stated that Federal law does not apply to UNIFORMED MILITARY personnel, especially if it is an Executive Order (i.e. from the President, otherwise known as the Commander-in-Chief of the military).  But where the law is silent the DOD can make policy, and where the DOD is silent, each branch can make policy and so on down the line to the installation Commander.  However those policies cannot be in conflict with any higher order law or policy.  This applies to State and Local laws and policies as well.  In the case of this policy, again…it applies to civilians and civil-service employees so they are automatically covered by the Federal law.
(See my answer above in regards to not complying with policy.)
TLB: Why does this situation matter both for military personnel and for civilians? Why should we be concerned about this?

Robyn: This sets a precedent for other military installations to create policies that are similar which would be horrible.  Many, many military personnel have families and will be or are breastfeeding, polices of this type could affect a large segment of the population. This could also be used to draft policies that limit when and where active duty military women can breastfeed or pump while in uniform, and that would cause massive amounts of hardship since many of those women already face challenges to keep their milk supplies up. Throw in a policy stating that they cant breastfeed their infant on base while in uniform (such as at Medical) and they may very well just wean.  This policy goes against Federal law, it even goes against the Air Force’s very own fantastically supportive breastfeeding policy that allows military women time and place to breastfeed/pump during the duty day.  So on the one hand the Air Force is supportive of breastfeeding but just don’t do it in front of anybody?  Finally our military families sacrifice a lot of freedoms so that everyone can have the rights afforded to them by living in the United States….and now you are going to tell the very people who live and work and sometimes die for their country, that they cant breastfeed their child whenever and wherever they might be while on US Government property?  Not going to fly folks!

TLB: With all that in mind, what can we do? How can we use our voice regarding this issue and what difference can we make? Are there steps military personnel can take to protest this without threatening their career? What can the civilian population do as well?

Robyn: You can help by being supportive of our military personnel for starters!  You can use your voice by emailing/writing and/or posting to the social media site of Mountain Home Air Force base with your thoughts and concerns about this issue (and any others that come up).  You can write to your Congressmen and women to have them enact better breastfeeding polices for our active duty breastfeeding mothers in the military and also have the Federal breastfeeding law amended to specifically state that it covers military installations as well.  Military personnel pretty much have their hands tied, which is why I have posted the memo and other information anonymously as it is a very real possibility that they can have action taken against them for speaking up about the issue.  These are the very people fighting for your right TO breastfeed when and wherever you choose, but they cant voice that opinion themselves.

As I stated earlier, before publishing but following our conversation, the Mountain Home Air Force Base released a new statement rescinding the policy, linked here.
Mountain Home Air Force Base rescinds breastfeeding policy
I touched base with Robyn for her take on this statement rescinding the policy and she shared this:
Thanks to Social Media and the power of many moms writing in and voicing their concerns the policy has been rescinded (give the link).  Let’s hope that Commander Iverson will receive some much-needed education on the topic and a revised policy will be fully supportive of breastfeeding mothers.

I agree, I’m grateful for the global village raising their voice against the discrimination of breastfed babies. Together we have influence and can make positive change. Though the rescinding of the policy is encouraging, there is still a bit of a “sorry not sorry” passive aggressive feel to the apology and the line: “I will revoke this policy while we look for a better way to accommodate and be respectful of all individuals in our community” (emphasis mine) leaves quite a bit of room for amending the policy in a way that could still discriminate against breastfeeding children and their mothers.

If you would still like to voice your concern regarding the breastfeeding policy of the base and express support for policies in keeping with the federal law which supports breastfeeding in public, you can send a respectful email (please communicate with respect, no name calling or belittling of the commander) to the Commander’s hotline at [email protected].

My thanks to Robyn for her help in understanding this situation.


Robyn Roche-Paull

Robyn Roche-Paull

Robyn Roche-Paull, BSN, RN, IBCLC, LLLL
Robyn Roche-Paull, is the award-winning author of the comprehensive book Breastfeeding in Combat Boots: A Survival Guide to the Successful Breastfeeding While Serving in the Military, and the Founder of the website ‘Breastfeeding in Combat Boots’.  She is a Registered Nurse and IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) as well as a US Navy Veteran.  She began her breastfeeding career while still on active duty in the US Navy.  She served six years as an aircraft mechanic on F/A-18 Hornets and A-6 Intruders on deployment overseas and stateside.  During that time she gave birth to breastfed her son for well over a year before separating from the military with an Honorable discharge.  Robyn wrote her book due to the difficulties she experienced breastfeeding her son while on active duty, and her desire to help other military mothers be successful at breastfeeding so that they do NOT have to experience those difficulties; but instead can enjoy all that breastfeeding has to offer both mother and child.
Robyn has been working with breastfeeding mothers for over 14 years and has been an IBCLC since 2006. She holds Bachelors degrees in both Maternal Child Health and Nursing. Currently Robyn works as both a Labor & Delivery and Postpartum RN. In addition, Robyn is the Past Area Professional Liaison for La Leche League of Virginia/West Virginia,  is a Board member of MiLCA (Military Lactation Consultants Association), and she is the Secretary for TALCA (Tidewater Area Lactation Consultant Association).  She maintains her website and Facebook page, writes for various blogs and magazines and helps active duty military mothers worldwide via email and Skype.  Robyn lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia with her husband of 20 years, who is a Chief Petty Officer in the US Navy, and her three (long-term breastfed) children.


Not Your Typical 10 Tips for Surviving Traveling with Children

by Jessica Martin-Weber
This post was made possible by the generous sponsorship of Mamava Lactation Stations.

When you do both without a partner you’ll find yourself peeing in a public restroom with a baby strapped to your back and everyone’s luggage in there with you.


Traveling with children, I don’t understand how there isn’t a reality show based on this yet. There would be plenty of drama, melt-downs (and not just coming from the kids), arguments, ridiculous situations, questionable wardrobe opportunities, and oh-no-she-didn’t moments.

While some families go for goody bags and apologizing-in-advance notes explaining that their children may act like the juvenile members of society they are, others just hope to make it through the experience with their yoga pants and spit-up embellished shirt intact. Thank you overachiever-extra-considerate parents for making the rest of us look like loser slackers. Board an airplane with a child in tow these days and I swear you’ll see looks of horror, fear, and then annoyance if you don’t have goody bags with drink coupons, ear plugs, and candy for them. As if they could possibly need a goody bag more than the parents do. If I am buying anyone chocolate for when I travel with my children, it’s going to be me. How dare I take my child in public without compensating those who must endure her presence. Hold up, I may have a smushed piece of chocolate in the bottom of the diaper bag if you really feel you deserve a participation award for me traveling with my children.

I’ve had a lot of experience traveling with children over the years. Of course, I now consider leaving the house with children to be “traveling with children.” Over the past 16 years I’ve been forced to develop some serious survival skills for this near daily endeavor. This isn’t your typical Pinterest style tips, here, in no particular order are my 10 tips for slacker parents like myself to survive traveling with children:

1. Dress for comfort. It’s likely you’re going to find yourself lugging too much stuff (and wondering why you didn’t get a Uhaul for it), chasing after someone or something, wearing someone’s meal and probably someone’s body fluid (admit it, either one could be yours), and possibly wrestling an octopus at any given moment. If you’re breastfeeding, comfort and boob accessibility can make the difference between going crazy and just looking like you are. Road trip (all the way to the grocery store!), plane, train, or the mall carousel, comfort is of the essence, you simply can’t dash after a kid in anything more trendy than yoga pants.

2. Have extra. Of everything. Since I have 6 kids, everyone seems to think I even bring extra children. Though it may seem as though you already have brought the entire Baby’s R Us, guaranteed there is something you have forgotten or foolishly didn’t bring enough extras of and that one item is the only one you will need. Just packed 6 diapers in that diaper bag? You’ll need 7 for sure then. You have an extra outfit for baby in your right pocket and for yourself in the left, right? No? There will be a poopsplosion on the airplane and you’ll have been the terrorist with the bomb, the evidence all over you and your baby. You are traveling with a weapon of massive poopstruction, you don’t want to be underprepared. So just go ahead and rent that Uhaul, stuff the glove compartment, or pack that obnoxiously large carry-on, whatever you do, don’t come up short on the 1,239,845,123,020,934 baby “essentials.”

3. Rations. You can Pinterest the living daylights out of this point, I did. A clever little box of snacks including fruit and other healthyish munchies. It was cute and put together. In the end though, you’ll just start throwing food at them and hoping some makes it in and satisfies them for 10 minutes. They say don’t eat when you’re bored but travel is totally the exception to that rule. Why? Because snacks mean silence and if you’re lucky, maybe eventually even a nap. Eat all the goldfish, Honey, I got the big box from Costco just for this trip, you can eat them all day long.

4. Put those kids to work. Once they demonstrate some competent walking skills (with my kids that seems to kick in around 6 years old) it’s time to put them to work. Even toddlers can sort of do it if getting places with any kind of urgency isn’t on your list. Each member of your caravan can carry a backpack, don’t let them slack. You want to eat on this journey, kid? Well then you better carry that food so you don’t go hungry. Want your special blankie or plushie? I got a spot for that right on your back. Activites so you don’t get bored? If you’re ready to carry the weight, you’re going to be entertained for hours.

5. Accessorize. You know what’s hot these days? Babies. They’re like a furnace. So strap one on, ditch the stroller, and strut like the hottest fashion model as you bolt to your gate. Strollers are great for certain settings but for travel can be cumbersome and take up a lot of space. Leave it at home if you can and try babywearing instead. Of course, if you have more than one baby or a baby and a toddler or otherwise think it would be good to have a baby tank handy for your excursions, you can always turn the stroller into a bulldozer to get people out of your way.

6. Find your backbone and don’t be afraid to use it. Since you may encounter people who resent you bringing your children into a public space or may be so happy to see your baby they border on affectionate assault, you may need your spine. When we traveled to India, a culture that loves young children and a fair skinned red head was a bit of an anomaly, our introverted 2 year old learned that everything could go much smoother for her if she just automatically started yelling “go away, don’t touch!” from the moment we opened the car door anywhere. Speak up for what you need and speak up when the boundaries of you or your child(ren) aren’t being respected. I must say “go away, don’t touch” at the top of your lungs does seem to be effective.

7. Sleep. Just kidding, you’re probably not going to get any sleep when you travel with kids, silly.

8.  Have an escape plan. You’ll probably need it. An escape plan when traveling with children can look like anything, not just the exit that the little lights along the aisle lead to, which, unless there are more than just your kids screaming and hysterical, probably isn’t a good idea to utilize. The most effective escape options include a door and a lock, a containment facility for those that like to run and to block everything else out. Even better if there was a foot massage but unless you can get a kid to help you with that, it’s likely trying to have that experience with kids along for the ride will include you saying something like “stop licking the vibrating chair” or “those pretty colored bottles aren’t candy sweetie.” If you have a baby to feed, breastfeeding or otherwise, this can be the perfect built-in escape plan especially if you have an adult travel companion. If breastfeeding is going well for you, breastfeeding while traveling is super easy AND you get a shot of oxytocin each time you feed your kid. Instant stress relief. Nobody needs to hide to feed their child unless they are more comfortable doing so. Still, it’s the perfect excuse, you need to feed the baby, you have identified an escape plan facility (like the Mamava pods!), you hand the other child(ren) off to your partner, you go into escape facility, you lock door, and you revel in the comparative quiet stillness that is just one child and actually sitting down in more than 2 inches of space. And if you have to pump, you can maybe even go alone! Of course, if you’re not traveling with an adult who can wander around airport shops herding cats, I mean kids, then your escape may just mean a spot where they can’t run too far while you feed the baby. When you’re traveling with children you take what you can get. If you magically find yourself with spare time in advance, you can even plan out those spots while looking like a bad mom by daring to tear your eyes of your children (you might miss her twirl for the 4,253,649th time!) and check out this app for finding such havens.

Who is "vacationing" at Target today?

Who is “vacationing” at Target today?

9. Breathe. Impossible, right? But important. There’s a reason they tell you on flights to put your oxygen mask on first before helping someone else with their’s: if you don’t get yours on and you pass out from lack of oxygen, you’re not going to be much help. You need to make sure you’re getting air or you’re no good to anyone. Don’t rush and don’t forget to take care of yourself even if it’s just in little ways. For kids, the scent of stress is like the scent of blood for sharks, one little whiff and there will be a feeding frenzy. So breathe. Breathe deep. And for 5 minutes try to ignore the fact that every breath reminds you there’s a diaper that needs changing.

10. Plug in. We get it screens aren’t great for little kids and we miss out on so much when we’re plugged in and out of touch with the world around us. Which is why using technology to entertain kids while traveling is absolutely brilliant. We try to limit screen time at home in our family, so there’s room for many other activities that inspire creativity, physical movement, and adventure. Plus, that denial makes it a huge treat that they get to overindulge in screen time when we travel. At the start of any trip we avoid using screens but it doesn’t really take long before I’m saying “here sweetie, some headphones and digital candies you can crush for the next hour.” Survival of the techiest.

In all seriousness though, I love traveling with children. Seeing the world (or the grocery store), friends, and family is worth the difficulties we plunge ourselves and our children into. It isn’t always easy (why do we say that when what we mean is “95% of the time this is as pleasant as a pap smear but lasts a lot longer”?) but it is always rewarding. What are your realistic tips for traveling with kids?

Happy travels!


MiLK Conference Call for Speakers

breastfeeding and formula feeding conference

Call for speakers

MILK: An Infant Feeding Conference,



Calling for submissions from clinicians, scholars, students, artists, mothers, fathers, researchers, and others familiar with infant feeding from clinical and social perspectives. Submissions of a wide variety are welcome, including research presentations, theoretical papers, academic papers, creative submissions including personal essays, social commentary, literature, and performance art.

We are looking for presentations on topics related to infant feeding and maternal health including but not limited to: continuity of care and infant nutrition, the diagnoses and care of physiological barriers to breastfeeding, sociological barriers involved in infant feeding, anthropological perspectives of infant nutrition, analysis of marketing in the maternal baby industry, conscientious marketing, exploration of infant feeding and child nutrition controversies, policies in the workplace for family support and breastfeeding, politics of infant feeding and policy making, postpartum depression and mental health research related to infant feeding, infant feeding practices in subsequent children, sociological family support and infant and child nutrition, infant feeding education, infant nutrition in public health, feeding multiples, managing maternal health issues through breastfeeding, nonviolent communication strategies for supporting infant feeding, developing infant feeding support products, immediate postpartum infant feeding support, the impact of birth interventions on maternal breastfeeding goals, maternal and pediatric allergies and infant nutrition, premature infants and nutrition, feminism and infant feeding, natural duration breastfeeding, weaning, infant nutrition and sleep, partner support and education, breastfeeding after breast reduction, socioeconomic and racial disparities in infant feeding support, breastmilk pumping, inducing lactation and relactation, the role of infant nutrition in relation to dental care, and the future of infant nutrition support.

Submissions accepted through February 28, 1015 and close March 1, 2015.

Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference, is a MommyCon conference envisioned by The Leaky Boob with the support of Ergobaby. Designed to bridge professional conferences for clinicians, health care providers, academics, and researchers, with consumer conferences for parents, Milk aims to educate, inspire, and support parents in feeding their children, as well as the people that support them including nutrition, lactation, maternal, and pediatric health care providers.

To submit to speak at Milk 2015, please use this form.


How to Wean Your Teenager

by Jessica Martin-Weber with Ophélia and Lavinia Martin-Weber

How to wean a teenager

It is a well known fact that if you don’t make sure you get a baby off the boob by the end of their first year or definitely by the time they are two, they will never, ever stop breastfeeding and you’ll have to go to college with them. This is a fact known by every Tom, Dick, and Harry, Cindy, Karen, and Amanda. If you’re not aware of this, don’t worry, any conversation about breastfeeding beyond infancy in person, on an online article, blog posts, and of course, social media, will eventually become about this very fact. It is an inescapable truth: if you breastfeed past infancy your child will never wean and you will find yourself breastfeeding a teenager or young adult some day. Once they can ask for it you have to cut them off or they will never stop. Clearly breastfeeding is more addictive than chocolate, alcohol, crack, speed, shopping, and independence.

Because everyone knows that 3 and 13 are pretty much the same thing, you just stick a one in front of that 3. Teens are, according to most people, really just toddlers in bigger bodies, with raging hormones, pimples, and a slightly larger vocabulary. The temper tantrums are pretty much the same. Childhood goes so fast, don’t blink because you’ll miss it if you do and the next thing you know your 6’ 1” teenage boy will be folding himself onto your lap and tugging at your shirt saying “nene please mama.” Fact.

*Disclaimer: I have teenagers, they were breastfed as babies and toddlers but they never breastfed beyond early childhood so I can’t say I have any experience with this fact myself, nor have I ever encountered a breastfeeding teenager and unless my friends are lying, neither have they. But thousands of people say it is true. I know, I read it online.

But let’s say you’ve done it, ignored all the warnings and breastfed your child after their 1st birthday and then even after their 2nd and 3rd and 4th birthdays, now what? If you haven’t already, you’re headed straight to meeting them at lunch in high school so they can have mama milk. And if you have more than one child, you really are in big trouble. Juggling all those schedules to get your kids their babas is going to get really challenging.

It’s true, I guess, you’re just going to HAVE to cut them off at some point unless you really are ok following them to college and then some day on their honeymoon. There could be bonding moments in the future as you breastfeed your grown son while his wife breastfeeds their son. If that just won’t work for you though, how are you ever going to get that teenager to stop breastfeeding? When is it really time to wean and how do you do it?

I turned to my resident experts on teens: Earth Baby, 16, and Storyteller, 13. They were a bit shocked when I initially brought it up to them:

Me: “How should a mom wean their teenager from breastfeeding?”

EB: “Wait, WHAT?”

Storyteller: “That’s a thing? I don’t think that’s a thing.”

Me: “It’s totes a thing, I read it online.”

*At this point I got “the look” from Storyteller.

Storyteller: “You should never say ‘totes again’ and now I know that’s not a thing.”

EB: “Wait, WHAT? Are you really asking what I think you are asking?”

Me: “What’s wrong with me saying ‘totes’? And yes, I’m really asking.”

EB: “I don’t think any of my friends have conversations like this with their moms…”

Storyteller: “OMG, I know mine don’t. They also don’t breastfeed. Or say ‘totes.’ People saying teenagers breastfeed are severely lacking in intelligence. You can’t say ‘totes’ because you’re too old.”

EB: “Our family is weird, isn’t it?”

Me: “They either don’t breastfeed because their mom weaned them when they were young enough or they do breastfeed in secret. Some of them have to because I read it on the internet. Why am I too old to say ‘totes’?”

Storyteller: “You do know you can’t believe everything you read on the internet, right? It’s just dumb to think that kids that don’t stop breastfeeding when they are little will end up wanting to breastfeed as teenagers. Saying ‘totes’ is dumb too. What is wrong with people?”

Me: “I write on the internet, of course you can believe everything you read on the internet!

Earth Baby: “This is ridiculous.”

Earth Baby and Storyteller how to wean teenagers

Storyteller (left) and Earth Baby (right).

It took a while to get them to just go with me on this but that was an excellent example of just how hard it could be to wean a teenager. They’re stubborn creatures and smart too, they can argue until you’re blue in the face and they’ll still continue. Weaning a breastfed teenager could be intensely difficult! I can see why there are so many warnings to wean while they are still young.

Besides, can you imagine breastfeeding through the dreaded wisdom teeth stage?

After bribing them, they came up with some ideas. I shot down a few, such as the suggestion that you just tell them no, that it’s all done. Oh puh-lease, teenagers and “no” go about as well together as oil and water. I’m not so great at taking a direct “no” either so I know it’s best to save them for the big things such as “no, you absolutely can not surf on the hood of a truck going down the highway.” They agreed that “no” wouldn’t work given our family’s own personal experience with how well “no” is an effective strategy for a teenager. #itsnoteffectiveatall

Here are the ones we all thought might be most effective though, all approved by the teenagers in my house:

Gentle conversation. According to my 13 year old, teenagers are reasonable.


Moving on.

Bribe them with cake. That’s right, offer cake and tell them if they give up “bobbies” they can have cake. Also acceptable would be cake pops, frappuccinos, mini doughnuts, and iTunes gift cards.

Wean to drive. They can’t drive or get a drivers license until they give up the mama milks for good. No exceptions. It would be so important for mom to hold strong when the whining starts after they’ve started driving and start whining about how badly they need their nene.

Entertainment options. If you’re trying to wean a younger teen or maybe a tween, you could try saying no PG 13 movies because those movies are for big kids and big kids don’t get to breastfeed any more. This will work because all their friends will be talking about the next Pitch Perfect movie and they’ll totally be left out which would even be worse than weaning.

Smart phone. Like breastfeeding, all the teens are smartphoning these days. It’s simple though, mom will have to get another job to afford the bill so she can’t breastfeed any more. If they want a smartphone to fit in with their friends, they’ll be more than willing for mom to hang up her nursing bras and go to work.

Dating. Explain that any possible dates will be a little horrified if they found out they were still breastfeeding. It could really hurt their chances of finding a date… ever. But since embarrassment is worse than death for teens, simply posting a breastfeeding selfie and tagging them on social media would possibly do it. Also, would take care of the whole talking to you thing.

Prom. There’s just no way you could find an on trend yet age appropriate prom dress that has easy boob access. Show them what you’d have to wear to prom so they had mama milks when they needed it. They’ll never want to breastfeed again.

Charge. Teenagers are the largest demographic with a disposable income. Use it to your advantage, my 13yo thought that $1/1 minute sounded about fair if a teen wanted to continue breastfeeding. That would encourage them to wean real quick: buy a new outfit or get some “bob bob” and the decision would be pretty simple.

Just say no. My teenagers maintain that saying “my body, my choice” would be a firm boundary no teenager would cross. Specially if you’re already teaching them to respect themselves and others.

So, tell us, what are your tips for weaning teenagers?


*Please note: this is intended to be humorous with a bit of satire.

Tips From The Leakies for Breastfeeding and Babywearing

by Jessica Martin-Weber

Breastfeeding in a Beco Baby Carrier Soliel video demonstrating how to position and adjust the carrier, baby, and breast for hands-free breastfeeding:

The Leakies on the Facebook page had some tips to share for breastfeeding and babywearing, no matter your breast size:

  • Don’t wait for baby to be super hungry and upset, it’s easier when everyone is calm.
  • If your carrier has a hood, put the hood up for privacy.
  • Use a lightweight baby blanket rolled up under your breast for support and positioning help.
  • For small breasts, be sure not to drop the waist band too low and don’t be afraid to tighten the straps for better support.
  • If you need baby higher, a rolled up baby blanket under their bum can help.
  • Practice at home before trying to do it in public.
  • Talk to your baby while you position them to help you both keep calm.
  • Stretchy necklines are your friend!
  • It’s important to get comfortable, don’t end up sore or awkward, practice positioning until it works for both of you.
  • Try to have babies head tilted a bit so nose is clear to breath safely.
  • Hip carry options can be easier for large breasts.
  • Baby’s mouth height should be just at/above nipple.
  • Hold your breast for the latch.


What tips would you add?