“Milk Jugs, Tits, Cow”

I had this interesting conversation with my client the other day which had to do with what people think they have the right to say when perhaps they should keep their comments to themselves.

This has to do with breastfeeding, which is very close to my heart as I believe that is the best start to the world a baby can have.

Why do relatives and friends feel the need to make fun of the breastfeeding mother? Or more to the point, the vital equipment that allows for breast milk production, the BREASTS? Could it be a cultural thing? The client I was speaking to was of Egyptian descent.

We are the only mammals that have enhanced breast tissue when not lactating and feeding young. All other mammals only have larger breast tissue when lactating, for example, dogs and cats. When these female mammals are not pregnant or lactating, they have the same amount of breast tissue as their male counterpart, well, visually anyway.

So, we are the only mammals that have prominent breasts when not lactating, and they have become sexual objects. They differentiate the males from the females. They are called many names like breasts, tits, boobs, jugs, fun bags, puppies, boobies, knockers, udders—some of these terms are not very flattering.

When a baby cries and is need of feeding, and a relative or friend says the baby needs her cow, how does that make the nursing mother feel? She is not a cow, but it’s inferred that she is one as she’s feeding her baby like a cow would a calf. But she’s breastfeeding her baby human milk, not cow’s milk. It’s extremely derogatory and undermines what is one of the most important things a mother can do for her baby.

Saying, “Baby needs some titty now,” doesn’t help either. For the well-endowed women amongst us, saying the baby needs his/her jugs of milk is offensive.

These are the kind of comments that would make a woman very self-conscious about what she’s doing. Making her feel like that’s all she is: a baby-feeding machine, a cow, a vessel for the baby’s food.

What she’s actually doing is natural, beautiful, vital and important. She’s giving her baby the best start in life, she’s bonding and nurturing her baby. Using these hurtful terms really cuts some women up. Some even giving up breastfeeding because of it!

Are these comments made because people feel embarrassed about the whole breastfeeding thing? Are they making what they think are lighthearted jokes to alleviate that embarrassment?

Whatever the reason, it is not helpful to the breastfeeding mother. Especially ones who are self-conscious about it. It may be all it takes to put off a mother that wasn’t so sure about breastfeeding in the first place. It affects the confident ones, too. Something as beautiful as breastfeeding your baby should not be subject to crass jokes and terminology.

We should all be more aware of the language we use when communicating about breastfeeding. We may think of it as a joke, but breastfeeding is not a joke. The mother is doing an important job.  Respect and support the nursing mother. She is nurturing our future.


Suyin Jordan

CPD, CAPPA Faculty

Suyin Jordan RGN, RM, CPD, is a CAPPA trained and certified postpartum doula, a CAPPA trained labour doula, lactation educator and childbirth educator. Suyin left Malaysia at the age of 23 to do nursing and midwifery training in the UK and worked as a nurse and midwife in England for over 20 years. She has been a Doula in Canada for over 6 years working in and around Toronto and the GTA.

Suyin has two grown up children (18 and 21) of her own and is passionate about supporting individuals and families holistically and to ensure healthier outcomes, both mentally and physically. Respectful of all cultures and traditions, Suyin believes that the role of a doula should be adaptable to help those with little or no extended family as well as those who have an established network. Suyin believes in a strong and supportive organization that promotes the view of Doulas as professionals in the field.

Suyin speaks several languages and her hobbies include knitting & crochet, Scrabble on-line, cooking and healthy eating, yoga, fitness and looking after the family pets.

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