A key argument most parents will have before their children are born is whether they plan to breastfeed or bottle-feed the babies.
But few parents in the United States discuss their feelings about sharing breastfeeding responsibilities, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
On her way back from a training session, Redditor MillsJay-867 was surprised when her partner told her his plans to let his sister breastfeed their baby while she was gone.
But when she thought about how this was a cultural norm in her partner’s culture, the Original Poster (OP) realized there was a key conversation the couple had forgotten to have.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for refusing to let my sister-in-law (SIL) breastfeed my baby?”
The OP was surprised to hear her husband’s advice for while she was away.
“I (32 Female) have a two-month-old baby. I went to training and left her with my partner. My netball training only takes an hour.”
“On my way back from training, I called my partner (33 Male) to check in and see if my baby was okay.”
“He said she was fine and that they just got to my in-laws’ place. He then said, ‘If the baby cries, I can just get my sister to breastfeed her.'”
“I said no to this, because I wasn’t comfortable with that and told him that’s my bond with my baby.”
“He asked, ‘Why not?'”
“And I just told him no.”
The OP felt her husband had put her in an uncomfortable position.
“He then turned to his sister and said, ‘Oh, she said you can’t,’ while I was still on the phone.”
“Apparently, it’s normal in their culture, and I said that’s fine but for mine, it’s not, so it’s a no.”
“I had to go over there, which then ended up being awkward because they both just assumed and decided between themselves that she could breastfeed my baby and then acted like I was being a b***h for not letting her.”
The OP felt conflicted.
“I don’t know if I’m overreacting but that’s just how I felt and I thought it was my right.”
“For context, I was pumping milk, but my partner said to not worry about it, she would be fine. I was only about 20 minutes away.”
“I also don’t know anything about my SIL’s health history, but this was not the reason why I said no.”
“I just wasn’t comfortable with the idea because it is not a norm for me but mainly because I consider it bonding time with my daughter.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some were firmly against the idea of breastfeeding someone else’s baby.
“NTA. I understand this is a cultural thing, and so while I find this extremely uncomfortable, I can respect that turning her down may have been an insult.”
“That said, you could say that you prefer your SIL not to feed her because then your daughter wouldn’t be hungry enough to relieve you of the engorgement that built up while you were away from her. That you don’t want to have to waste time pumping to keep your supply consistent.”
“That way, you can avoid hurting her feelings.” – bamboobananaL
“There are mothers who help other mothers out with breastfeeding and cultures where it’s normal BUT and this is the most important point: It’s your decision.”
“If you’re uncomfortable about it, then it’s your right to say no. This is a boundary others have to respect. Just because it’s okay/normal for them doesn’t mean it’s for everyone else.”
“NTA.” – Popular-Block-5790
“NTA. You’re not overreacting or wrong. I don’t know what cultural this is or if it’s normal, but I would also be totally against someone else, even family, breastfeeding my child!” – jacksonlove3
“NTA. As a mother of two and one on the way who has breastfed both and plans to do so with the third, I understand how special the bond is.”
“Personally, I wouldn’t let someone else nurse my kids unless there was an emergency, (like I’m seriously incapacitated, hospitalized, or something else serious), and even then we would probably switch to formula.”
“I do understand that in their culture it’s normal, but at the same time, I can’t help but feel like dad just didn’t want to deal with a crying baby for just a little bit while you were making your way home.” – MamaForTheLove
“NTA. In my family, it’s normal to feed each other’s children. I’ve not personally breastfed anyone else’s kid but have given milk to plenty of my niblings (nephews and nieces).”
“However, the mother needs to be aware and on board. It’s ok to say no.”
“Maybe they were just embarrassed and interpreted your refusal as disgust, or that you thought they had something wrong with them that you didn’t want your baby exposed to.” – Miserable-Assist6803
“NTA. I’m currently breastfeeding and would have no problem being a wet nurse for someone. I have an oversupply and I’m willing to share, but oh my god. I couldn’t imagine just thinking I could nurse another child without talking to their mom.”
“I’d want them to know about any meds I’m on, diet, everything and I’d have questions for them, too, because anything their baby had, mine could be exposed to. I’d be so mad if my husband thought he could make this decision on his own.” – Banditsmisfits
Others questioned the OP’s reasons for saying no.
“YTA. I breastfed my niece because another SIL and I were taking care of multiple children. The niece was one month older than my oldest son and could smell the milk on me and would not take a bottle.”
“As far as I know, my niece does not remember the event.” – crochetbug
“YTA because of your reasoning. ‘That’s my bond with my baby’ sounds like you’d rather your baby go hungry than get in the way of your overweening ego.” – NoChance_WindowsSuck
“This is Reddit. Anything that’s not comfortable for Americans is treated like it’s disgusting and you’re allowed to be as offensive as possible about it.”
“This whole comment section is just f**king racist.” – Defnotheretoparty
“Many of these comments read as very Eurocentric and low-key racist.” – Chance-Advantage2834
“NTA. Your baby, your rules. At the very least you need to be consulted on all matters, just as much as a father does.”
“Please also be culturally sensitive. Many cultures normalize breastfeeding other children. In middle eastern cultures there’s even a term for two infants that were breastfed by the same woman, they’re ‘milk siblings’ and treated the same as if they were born to the same woman.”
“While it’s very important to know the health history of a woman that plans to breastfeed a child, it is also important to understand the culture that is a part of your child. She is half of her father and therefore belongs to a culture that normalizes non-maternal breastfeeding.” – Sea_Vermicelli7517
But most found this to be a NAH situation and a misunderstanding.
“NAH. It was a kind offer by someone who didn’t think anything of it because it’s normal for their culture.”
“That said, the husband calmly said, ‘Oh, she said no,’ to his sister when you turned it down, which is your right, too! You’ve left out the parts where they treated you like you’re a b***h for it.”
“It just sounds like the misunderstanding made the following interaction awkward, which can happen and doesn’t make anyone the AH.” – missy20201
“I will say NAH because, on one hand, I think this is just another one of the many things you talk about first and not just assume is okay to do, but on the other hand, if you live in a country where this is culturally appropriate or surrounded by people coming from a place where this is the norm, I can see why they’d think it was fine without asking first.”
“With that being said, I don’t really see the issue as long as the other woman is healthy and disease free. People will willingly feed their kids milk taken from animals, but milk from another lactating human mother is somehow gross and weird. Okay then.” – defectivemeatbag
“NAH, While I personally think it’s bizarre to breastfeed someone else’s baby, I have fed my premie donor milk (which was tested thoroughly until my milk came in), and I have witnessed a family member breastfeed their cousin’s baby and they thought there was no issue with it at all.” – Small-Astronomer-676
“I’d say this is firmly NAH. He’s not an a**hole for wanting to thoroughly understand why, from his perspective, she just shut him down with minimal reasoning.”
“This whole conversation is one they didn’t realize they needed to have at the time and that’s okay. But he’s still the baby’s parent and has a right to understand parental decisions.” – HopkirkDeceased
“NAH: He didn’t ask because nothing about it seemed remotely out of the ordinary to him. (He wasn’t making some major decision behind your back, he was doing something he believed was routine and not at all noteworthy).”
“When you expressed objections, he didn’t try to force the issue or go behind your back, so I definitely wouldn’t call him an AH. You’re also not an AH for not wanting it.”
“I think it’s also kind of normal to be a little awkward when you run up against major cultural differences like that, and I wouldn’t worry too much about it.” – Murderhornet212
After receiving feedback, the OP shared an uplifting update.
“My partner and I talked about it when we got home, and he said he understood where I was coming from and that he was sorry he did not ask me first.”
“They just thought since it was normal for them that it would be okay, which is completely fine.”
“I told him it was the fact that he didn’t ask me first, which put me in an awkward situation that could have been avoided.”
“It was also made worse by them saying she was hungry and having me feed her, even though I know when my child is hungry because of how she behaves and fusses. She was not hungry at all but tired and just wanted cuddles.”
While the subReddit was divided on whether or not it was acceptable to share the breastfeeding responsibilities between the OP and her sister-in-law, they were all certain that the OP needed to have a follow-up conversation with her partner about their expectations for various aspects of their parenting, based on their different cultural upbringing.
There was nothing wrong with either parent’s opinion on this subject, but it was certainly something that needed to be discussed to best benefit their child in the future.