The Princeton Mom Thinks Breastfeeding is Overrated — Here’s Why

Photo: Veer / The Bump
Photo: Veer / The Bump

This is the first of five guest blog posts by Susan Patton, a.k.a. “The Princeton Mom,” who found fame (and a recent TIME 100 nomination) from her controversial views on marriage in her book, Marry Smart. While you may not always agree with her, you’ll definitely want to hear her (often surprising!) stance on parenting’s hottest topics. 

Breastfeeding… it’s not for everybody. It wasn’t for me. I understand that mother’s milk has many advantages for babies, and some women find that nursing establishes a special bond between mother and child, but in many ways it can be inconvenient, messy and unpleasant. And every now and again, it’s nice to have someone else feed the baby!

When my second son was born, my best friend had also just had a baby, and she was breastfeeding. We had escaped the neighborhood and the babies for a couple of hours one afternoon and went shopping at Bloomingdale’s. When we were ready to check out, the cashier was moving incredibly slowly, and my friend was starting to panic as it was feeding time and she was engorged — really engorged. My friend implored the cashier to speed it up because she had to get home to feed her baby, but it’s Bloomingdale’s and the cashier was unimpressed. A few minutes later, she asked politely again if things could speed up. In frustration, the third time she begged the cashier for attention she flung her jacket open to reveal two milk stains on her blouse that were the size of dinner plates. The cashier remained unimpressed, and we caught a cab back uptown.

In 1988, I delivered a big (8lbs. 4 ounces), healthy baby boy and the breastfeeding mothers of La Leche League were in the hospital insisting that I nurse my son. It was what all new mothers were doing in the eighties. Okay, so I tried it. I hated it, wasn’t good at it, and my baby didn’t seem to take to it either. I kept trying because it was the politically correct thing to do, but it didn’t get better until I spoke with my pediatrician who assured me that my entire generation grew up on bottle-fed formula. Of course! I forgot that I could choose to do something different than what other mothers were doing. So I buttoned my blouse, bought a case of iron-flavored Enfamil and happily bottle-fed my bouncing baby boy. It was better for him and better for me.

If breastfeeding is right for you, great! If it isn’t, you have other options and you know what you are comfortable with. Don’t let any one or any group bully you into doing anything that doesn’t feel right for you or your baby. Remember, Mother knows best!

Have you ever felt bullied into breastfeeding?