Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Why you shouldn't feel guilty if you don't/can't breastfeed your baby

So I'm working on a special post about breastfeeding, sort of an impromptu guide for new moms. It's probably going to take me awhile before I post it because even though I know a lot about this topic, I'm still doing some more research to brush up. Before I post that I want to post this first, for those of you out there feeling guilty about not breastfeeding your child or stopping. You shouldn't feel guilty.

A few days ago I was having a conversation with one of my friends about breastfeeding, she was going on about how great it is for your baby and how anyone who doesn't should be ashamed of themselves for giving their child anything but breast milk. She said "It's unnatural to not breastfeed." I could feel myself getting annoyed by the minute, but because she's a good friend I refrained from putting her in her place even though she clearly deserved it.

This is a topic that is very dear to my heart, I breastfed my daughter until she was about 6 months old. I actually wanted to and planned on breastfeeding her longer but due to low milk supply I was forced to stop. When I realized my milk supply was low, I tried a variety of different things to help. Mother's Milk Tea, herbal supplements, etc. when I realized it wasn't working I was absolutely heart broken. I remember I cried for a month. The thought of having to give my daughter formula saddened me.

I felt like I had failed as a mother because I could no longer feed my child, it was awful. My lowest point was probably about a month after I had stopped breastfeeding and I had an appointment to see my doctor for a physical, she was asking me how I was doing and that was it I lost it and burst into tears.I have a great relationship with my doctor, I'd been seeing her for years even before I got pregnant, she was more like my older friend then my doctor, so I felt comfortable telling her how I felt.  I told her exactly how I felt, like I've failed as a parent because I'm not breastfeeding anymore. I thought, "Why me? Why can't I feed my child, other women are able to breastfeed for years why can't I? I must be a bad mother because I can't provide for my child" I said all of those things to my doctor.

I remember she came over to me and gave me a hug and some tissues and said this to me, "You're a great mother whether you breastfeed your child or give her formula. Obviously there are benefits to breastfeeding, but you did the best you could. Your daughter is healthy and growing just fine, she's hitting all her milestones and is doing just fine. So what if you give her formula that doesn't make you a bad parent, lots of women give their children formula and they grow up to lead normal healthy lives. You shouldn't feel ashamed that you had to stop, you're a good mother."

Hearing her say those words just made something in my brain click. Why should I feel guilty that I stopped breastfeeding, I did the best job I could, I breastfed her for as long as I possibly could. Breastfeeding is not an indication of how well you are parenting. I have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about, I am a good mom, I've done everything I could to make sure my child was healthy and well nourished.

So if you're reading this and you're feeling guilty because you don't or can't breastfeed, stop. You have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about, breastfeeding is not for everyone and it can be difficult and mentally draining. As long as you do what's best for you and your child, that's all that matters. Well there are obvious health benefits to breastfeeding it doesn't mean if you don't breastfeed that your child won't grow up healthy. I only breastfeed my daughter for 6 months and she didn't even get sick until she was 1. She's only been sick twice in the 15 months she's been alive.

Plenty of women give their children formula and they grow up to normal healthy adults, there is absolutely no reason that you or any other women should feel guilty about not breastfeeding. So the next time you go to scoop that formula into the bottle, remind yourself, "You are a great mother, you're doing a great job caring for your child, you love your child more than anything and you're doing the best job you can. You have nothing to feel guilty about!"

This is my daughter on her 1st birthday she looks pretty happy and healthy to me, so I don't think giving her formula hurt her one bit, therefore; I have nothing to feel guilty about and neither should you!

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