When Breastfeeding Fails: A Mother’s Guilt

When Breastfeeding Fails: A Mother's Guilt

When you discover you’re pregnant the big question on many people’s mind is “are you going to breast feed?” I know for myself the natural answer was “of course”. People talk that breast is best and all the benefits of having your child be breastfed. Mom’s like me build up to the day when they can breastfeed. I bought all the things I would need. I knew with my shyness I wouldn’t be comfortable breastfeeding in front of people or out in public so I got myself a lovely cover up. I made sure I researched all the ways to breast feed and had my local LLC on speed dial.

Then the big day arrived, my son was born! After 40 hours of labor I was plum exhausted. The nurses got us all cleaned and sent over to our new room and boy was he hungry by then! So, we got all set up and tried to breast feed. Our first couple attempts were a major fail. He couldn’t latch, I couldn’t find a position that worked, we were both beyond exhausted and it was an overall mess. So we kept trying..and trying.. and trying. We tried different positions and different techniques and we ended up just not being able to make it work. Finally I resorted to pumping. I spent hours attached to a pump just to get a few ounces of liquid gold. I wasn’t able to keep up with my son’s needs and in turn I was becoming frustrated. Then, my son started vomiting.. ALL the time. So now, my precious liquid gold that I was spending hours preparing was failing his body. We started having to supplement with formula in order to make him content but the vomiting continued. Finally we came to the conclusion that he was lactose and needed special soy formula and that ended our limited breast feeding relationship.

Boy, was I one guilty mama! All my friends who had kids breast fed and my facebook was blown up with different “Breast is best!” type of articles and what not from other friends. I wanted to crawl into a hole and shrivel up, I wasn’t giving my child the best! WRONG. Let me get any of you mama’s who are in this slump OUT of it now. Just because you can’t breast feed does NOT mean you are not doing what’s best for your child. Often times we can get on a soap box about a topic that is near and dear to us and breast feeding is no different. Many moms who do (and don’t) breast feed are very firm that it is the way to go but often times forget that formula fed babies are just as loved. I always felt so left out that I never got that bond with my child, I always held it against myself. I would get so upset when I would see other mom’s downplaying that formula fed babies might not be as smart, or as loved or as healthy.

Let me start off by telling you that no formula is exactly like breast milk, however, they are becoming much more healthy then older formulas and are benefiting children just as good as breast milk can. My children were both breast fed for only just a few weeks (my daughter had different issues) and then went onto formula. My son, who is 3, has had 1 ear infection in his entire life. My daughter, 18 months, has had none. Outside of average colds and 1 run into with the flu my children have never been “sick”. They’ve attended daycare and I did home daycare since they day they were both born, they’ve always been around other kids and exposed to the elements of life. Formula is clearly not that bad.

As far as the guilt factor, don’t let you guilt yourself into feeling bad about having to formula feed your baby. My children still got to bond when we bottle fed, they also got to bond that way with other family members. It was a great relief to be able to have my husband help with some of those nightly feedings. There are many benefits to formula feeding also. Your children will be just as smart as breast fed babies. You are giving your child the benefits of a full belly so that in itself is a good start! There are complications that come about and not everyone has an easy time breastfeeding. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel like a less adequate mother for not being able to breast feed.

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