Milky Minute – Breastfeeding Failure and Guilt 

Don’t Let it be a Thing

I did a consult with a mom recently. As I got her history she said she was exclusively pumping and bottle feeding.

She said she ran out of patience with the problems they were having with latch. I sensed that she felt guilty about this decision. I asked her if that was the case. She confirmed that she did feel guilty.

I told her, emphatically, that she should let that guilt go. I said exclusively pumping mamas work hard to provide breast milk to their babies. I told her that she should be proud of herself.

Then I told her I want to ban some things from breastfeeding. Guilt was one of them. It’s just not a productive emotion. It takes too much energy.

A mom who works at breastfeeding should never feel guilty about it.

I counsel moms not to try to breastfeed. Does that surprise you? Stay with me.

Photo credit: Victor Bezrukov on VisualHunt / CC BY-NC

I don’t want any mom to try, I want her to plan to breastfeed. There a very important distinction.

When you try to do something, you either succeed or you fail.

I want to ban the words success and failure related to breastfeeding. There is no failure in breastfeeding.

I advise moms to plan to breastfeed. Plans can change. They can be adjusted. Plans are flexible.

Back to the guilt thing. I think most moms make the best decisions they can with the information they are given at the time.

My experience has been that most moms work hard at breastfeeding if that is what their situation requires. If a mom comes to the decision that her breastfeeding journey needs to end, I do believe that she feels grief over that.

I think grief and guilt are sometimes confused. Moms who end up ending their breastfeeding journey earlier than they had planned are often told not to feel guilty about their decision.

I really believe repeatedly being told that actually makes them feel guilty. If you are repeatedly told not to feel guilty, you may start to wonder if you should feel guilty and then you start to actually feel guilty.

I wonder what would happen if a mom who had an experience of ending her breastfeeding journey early was encouraged to grieve over that if she was feeling sad about it?

Just a thought.