to think 'do you feed her yourself' is a tucking rude and insensitive question?!

(122 Posts)
TheRinkyDinkPanther Sat 28-Sep-13 21:43:18

Random young woman in a restaurant who was a little but worse for wear came over to talk to my husband and I and our 4 month old this evening.. After exclaiming how large she is, massive in fact compared to her 3 month old (she is 50th %Ile for weight and height so hardly massive!) she then proceeded to ask if I 'feed her myself?' Am I alone in thinking this is a rude question to ask?! I am sensitive about it after failed attempts to breast feed but surely it's only a question you ask if you are judging the response?' Cheeky bitch. I wish I had said 'no. I rather prefer the method of hoping random strangers chuck her some scraps'

I think you can look at it much more simply though Mini as just being inappropriate to the situation and the fact the woman asking had only just met her.

Minifingers Mon 30-Sep-13 22:29:27

"It's like going to Germany and asking 'what did you do during the war'.*

WTAF? Not everyone can or wants to BF. The War was an event in which millions died. No comparison at all."

The comparison was intended to flag up the depths of guilt/anger/defensiveness we've all been witness to in relation to this issue among UK mothers, who have some of the lowest rates for continuing breastfeeding in the developed world despite several decades of enthusiastic and widespread state sponsored promotion of breastfeeding.

So many tales of woe and suffering. A universe of excuses. So much guilt and defensiveness... Which is why I personally NEVER as anyone how they're feeding their baby.

bumperella Mon 30-Sep-13 22:01:06

Of course it's a sensitive issue for some people who bottle feed, and yes, some do have "a bit of internal conflict about it already" !!!!! How would YOU feel if YOU wanted to do something you thought was "best" and "right" for your child but were unable to? ...despite making far more effort than many BF mothers to whom it came naturally. Sadly some people DO look down on bottle-feeding mothers even without having a the first clue why they're not BF, never mind knowing what efforts they go to do the best they can for their child.
That's why asking "do you breast feed?" of a passing stranger isn't polite.

BTW I was just lucky it was easy for me and DCs seemed to know what to do from the beginning too. Just like with birth with breastfeeding everyone has different experiences.

I BF both of mine and would be happy to talk with anyone about the experience in the right situation, that is after I'd got to know them a bit and in a relaxed environment, such as at home. I'd still possibly feel a little uncomfortable, or that the question was in slightly bad taste, to be asked "Do you feed her yourself" by a stranger in a busy restaurant!

waterrat Sun 29-Sep-13 20:39:54

The world has gone totally bonkers when breast feeding is an inappropriate subject for conversation - it's a polite question , if you were bf you wouldn't have thought twice about it. People are interested in how it works with babies / thy make chit chat and you were seriously over sensitive

Honestly - the whole issue of bf has gone mad. It's become insensitive now to even ask someone about it????

badbride Sun 29-Sep-13 20:29:28

MumofTwo LOL at the vagina-ID method. Perhaps as an outsider, I'm being too delicate after all grin

ThermoLobster Sun 29-Sep-13 20:27:56

Its bad isn't it Mumoftwoyoungkids!? Poor DD2 only wore sleepsuits more or less until she could walk! No pretty little outfits for her!

Mumoftwoyoungkids Sun 29-Sep-13 20:19:13

Thermo - love the phrase nsb! I have one - poor lad. Gets lugged around like a parcel and I can never remember how old he is!

Ocean I quite like the "massive" comments. Maybe because he is my nsb so at least people know I bother to feed him.

HeffalumpTheFlump Sun 29-Sep-13 20:17:58

Miaow - "You meet a stranger with a baby you go down the "awww aren't they gorgeous" line of discussion (even if they look like Winston Churchill)... or you ask how much they weighed, or where they got the outfit/pram blanket or whatever... plenty of banal shit to waffle on about."

How is someone supposed to know what classes as banal and what could cause offense? There isn't a list and it really isn't always obvious. I wouldn't have thought many of the things mentioned in this thread would cause offense, but apparently they would! It's impossible to get it right!

badbride Sun 29-Sep-13 20:16:26

Heffalump I'm probably not explaining myself very well. I still wouldn't ask an acquaintance a direct question about feeding/sleeping etc. I'd open the conversation with a generic "how are things" question, and wait for the Mum to introduce the topic she felt comfortable discussing.

I agree with you that this is a minefield: hence my belief that it needs to be approached with caution. There's no way to be sure what's going on in the life of a stranger with a new baby, and I wouldn't like to think I'd made anyone feel uncomfortable by my questions, however well-intentioned.

Anyway, judging by this thread, it's a subject that seems to divide opinion!

Mumoftwoyoungkids Sun 29-Sep-13 20:11:18

badbride -Not usually! There are a lot of woman about whose names I do not know but who I could identify by the state of their vaginas!

Of your 5 topics my answers are as follows (might have them in the wrong order):-

1. Dd EMCS. Ds VBAC.
2. Dd ebf. Ds ebf
3. Dd - finally! Ds - not at all in evenings but pretty good at night.
4. Going back 3 days once I've maxed out mat leave.
5. No more - family complete.

Don't have any objection to sharing any of these things. I have always been a bit sad about dd's birth - I wanted a natural birth and she got stuck. But I don't mind people asking. And I'm always willing to talk about my VBAC as after dd's birth I would have liked to talk to someone who had a VBAC as it seemed like a bit of an impossible dream.

Personally I wouldn't talk to a stranger in a restaurant about how their baby is fed but I don't think it makes her rude- I think she just forgot that what is completely acceptable and even expected when meeting a complete stranger at baby groups is not quite appropriate at a more adult environment.

ThermoLobster Sun 29-Sep-13 19:51:30

As I recall, when DD1 (pfb) was 3 months, I was sleep deprived and wholly obsessed with was she having enough milk, was she having too much milk, when was she going to sleep longer, would formula help, was she on the right centile, when was I ever going to get my life back etc whereas I have only had DD2 weighed about 3 times, poor nsb - neglected second born so if I saw another woman with a baby about the same age I probably would have asked something similar. Shall we cut her some slack?
And also, I think it is good to talk about breastfeeding more, even if we can't say the word 'breast' out loud without blushing, bless us!
And I am not evangelical. I couldn't bf DD2 for very upsetting reasons but I wouldn't call a fellow mother a bitch if she had asked me about it.

People asked me this. I didn't mind at all. Why would I? It's just conversation. The only people I have ever come across who have minded have been those who bottle fed, and in a vague attempt at amateur therapy I'd wonder if that is because they have a bit of an internal conflict about it already. It seems odd to get so upset otherwise.

Oceansurf Sun 29-Sep-13 19:30:20

Hmm. The weight comment would have annoyed me! In fact, I actually stopped taking DD to be weighed because I was sick of the 'gosh she's massive' comments whilst I was waiting. Really made me feel as if we were doing something wrong.

MiaowTheCat Sun 29-Sep-13 19:29:02

Annoyed me when I got asked it - on one notable occasion by some random little old lady in the middle of town who proceeded to ignore the fact I sidestepped the question and go into a 10 minute sermon about how she hoped I was breastfeeding and not one of those lazy bottle feeders.

These days I'd just respond with "I'll tell you what I do with my boobs if you tell me what you do with yours"

Only people whose business how I feed my child is are my husband, my child and associated health professionals if it's relevant to their health needs. Anyone else sticking a beak (or the knife in) can fuck right off.

You meet a stranger with a baby you go down the "awww aren't they gorgeous" line of discussion (even if they look like Winston Churchill)... or you ask how much they weighed, or where they got the outfit/pram blanket or whatever... plenty of banal shit to waffle on about.

HeffalumpTheFlump Sun 29-Sep-13 19:27:17

badbride - "there are 5 topics one should NEVER broach with mothers you don't know extremely well"

"Once you're on first name terms with someone, I think it's fine to get more personal"

These two statements contradict each other. Can you understand why I feel attitudes like this make it a minefield for well meaning people?

I think as long as you are just being curious/interested, it shouldn't be a problem to ask about these things. It's unfair I assume there is always a judgement or agenda behind it.

MissBattleaxe Sun 29-Sep-13 19:18:04

*It's a tactless question to as a mother in a country where inexplicably large numbers of women find they are unable to breastfeed.

It's like going to Germany and asking 'what did you do during the war'.*

WTAF? Not everyone can or wants to BF. The War was an event in which millions died. No comparison at all.

I think people are too quick to take offence sometimes. The vast majority of people who ask questions about your baby mean well and are genuinely interested.

It's a sad day when even the most well intentioned small talk is regarded as nosy and rude instead of a human being taking a kind interest in a mother and baby. You can always choose not to answer or make up an answer. The death of friendly small talk will be a sad one. I think there's more hostility than friendliness these days and that's a shame.

badbride Sun 29-Sep-13 19:03:24

Heffalump I'm not suggesting that one can never ask these things. But I think it's all about how appropriate the questioning is to a) the situation and b) the degree of intimacy you have with the Mum in question.

If I were in a restaurant and spotted a cute baby, I'd stick to compliments and small talk about how adorable the baby was. I jut think it's a bit intrusive to ask personal questions about feeding/ sleeping of someone I've never met before. Especially when they're trying to eat dinner!

Once you're on first name terms with someone, I think it's fine to get more personal, but given the sensitivity of many of these topics, and how exhausted mothers of young babies generally are, I'd start off with some pretty generic, neutral questions, such as: "How are things going?" or "How are you doing?" and wait for the Mum to raise the topic she felt happy talking about.

MumofTwo Yes indeed, I haven't had the pleasure grin. But at least women at those sorts of groups will have at least been introduced to each other.

HeffalumpTheFlump Sun 29-Sep-13 18:14:30

Froken - I didn't quite get that one either to be honest.

froken Sun 29-Sep-13 17:58:29

It's like going to Germany and asking 'what did you do during the war'

confused

Where is the logic in that? How is feeding your baby like a war?

Want2bSupermum Sun 29-Sep-13 17:36:41

I would never ask someone how they were feeding their baby. People have asked me I say bottle. It doesn't answer the question as could be ebf or ff.

I think it's slightly rude from a stranger as implies there could be some judgement about the way you're feeding her, you might have been unable to breastfeed but not want to go into it all, and even if happily breastfeeding some people might find that slightly uncomfortable to talk about with a stranger. I'm sure Debretts would recommend other lines of conversation as openers with a mother, her partner and baby!

jasminerose Sun 29-Sep-13 17:30:27

I think this makes you sound crazy tbh

wokeupwithasmile Sun 29-Sep-13 17:28:48

I think it was a bit awkward, and it has happened to me, too, from people I am not really friendly with. But then I think that there is a compliment somewhere in there. If my baby is healthy and clearly well fed, and if I am doing that, it must mean that I am doing it well and that my baby is thriving. Some people just don't know how to say things in an appropriate way, even without the wine.

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