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Breastfeeding Failure and Guilt
Don’t Let it be a Thing
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.
I don’t want any mom to try to breastfeed. I want her to plan to breastfeed. There is an important difference between the two.
When you try to do something you either succeed or fail.
I would love to ban the words success and failure when talking about breastfeeding.
There is no failure in breastfeeding.
I encourage 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.
Andrea Tran RN, MA, IBCLC
Andrea has been working with new families as an RN for over 35 years and a Lactation Consultant for over 25 years.
She has her MA in Health and Wellness with a focus in Lactation.