Let’s face it — nothing about breastfeeding is easy. Whether it’s struggling with the discomfort, helping your baby find a latch you can both live with, dealing with public perception or finding a space you can breastfeed without embarrassing anyone, there’s a lot of potential for the awkwardness of embarrassing breastfeeding situations.
How you deal with that awkwardness can make or break your breastfeeding experience. Here are four common embarrassing breastfeeding situations and tips to help you get through them with the least amount of embarrassment.
1. Someone Sees Your Boob
Who is actually more embarrassed when this happens? You or the person who sees your bare breasts?>
How mortifying this situation depends on who sees them, and your own comfort level with nudity. If the person who sees your chest is your sister or best friend, then it’s really no big deal. But if it’s your co-worker who accidentally barged into the room where you pump at work and got way more than he bargained for, it can be off-the-charts embarrassing. But I guarantee your coworker won’t make that same mistake twice.
What you can do about it: This one’s simple enough. Either let people know ahead of time what you’re going to be doing or put a Do Not Disturb sign on the door. (Pinterest has a great selection of free printables.)
2. You Just Leaked Milk All Over Your Shirt
When your breasts become engorged, all bets are off. Anything can happen. If you don’t start breastfeeding or pumping soon, those suckers are going to blow. They’re ticking time bombs.
Hopefully, when the big moment comes, it won’t be at a corporate meeting with all your supervisors. When you do spring a leak, all you can do is laugh and shrug your shoulders, or pretend you’ve spilled your drink all over your shirt, but nobody’s probably going to buy that.
What you can do about it: To avoid this situation, you’ll want to keep spare breast pads on you at all times and pump regularly, so your breasts won’t reach the volcano-blowing stage.
3. Coworkers Who Think It’s Okay To Talk About Your Breasts
Depending upon where you work, your coworkers may be great about your need to breastfeed, or they might be awful.
Every time you head into a private place to breastfeed, some of your more juvenile coworkers might make sucking noises or feel compelled to make some lame comment like, “Baby’s hungry!”
It’s annoying and embarrassing, but don’t sweat these types of comments. The only person those comments reflect poorly upon is the one who makes them. While your coworker may think he’s funny, but he’s just showing the rest of the office how insensitive he is.
What you can do about it: If you find yourself disturbed by a coworker’s inappropriate comments, lodge a complaint with your boss or your human resources department. That’ll cause your coworker to shut his piehole in record time.
4.The Breast Pump Is Deafening
If your breast pump were a Star Wars character, there’s no doubt it would be Darth Vader. Not only does it inflict pain and discomfort on people, but there’s also that Darth Vader-like breathing sound that it makes — whoosh-whoosh. It’s so loud that unless you’re at home, somebody’s going to notice it.
If you’re in the office, good luck finding a place to pump where your coworkers won’t hear your machine working. Unless you happen to have a soundproof room in your building, everyone is going to hear what you’re doing.
What you can do about it: You have two options here, cover your ears and pretend nobody else can hear it. Or make sure you buy a pump that doesn’t sound like you’re doing a load of laundry from your office. (I wrote an in-depth buyer’s guide to help moms find the best breast pump for their specific situation.)
It’s Worth It
You probably won’t get through your breastfeeding months without facing some moments that make you want the earth to open up and swallow you. But you’d better get used to it. You’ll have lots of embarrassing moments as a parent. They won’t stop when your child gets their milk from a glass.
The best thing to do about breastfeeding embarrassment is to keep it all in perspective. Isn’t a few minutes of uncomfortable silence or a laugh at your expense worth giving your baby a healthy start?
Jenny Silverstone is a mother of two, a blogger and a breastfeeding advocate. Find her giving actionable parenting advice at MomLovesBest.com or drop her a line on Twitter at @MomLovesBest.