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Should You Feel Guilty About Not Breastfeeding?

Should You Feel Guilty About Not Breastfeeding?

Reasons for not breastfeeding can be beyond a mother’s control. Read on to know why you shouldn’t feel like a failure, no matter what others tell you.

It is natural for a new mother to listen to her maternal instincts and nourish her infant as often as he/she desires. Every mother is giving and aspires to be perfect. In that quest for perfection, some may drive themselves to the point of depression. After all, if you are not breastfeeding, you clearly cannot be a good mother, right? That is most definitely not the case. When a mother is unhappy, the child suffers too. What if you cannot produce enough milk or have a health condition that requires medication, leaving you unable to breastfeed your baby? What if your pediatrician suggests that you give your baby formula? Now see, being unable to breastfeed your child does not mean that you are not “good enough”.

Don’t Be Disheartened When Things Don’t Go As Planned

Most new parents have it all chalked up and planned in their minds how their life will unfold once the baby arrives. But the truth is, no amount of reading maternity books and articles can prepare you for the actual moment of bringing home your newborn. Every mother is different, and so is every child. It is possible that you know new mothers who are completely in control of breastfeeding their baby. This does not mean that the same will apply for you, so you should never set any high expectations. It is important that you understand this fact and don’t let feelings of failure envelop you if things don’t happen to turn out the way you hoped they would. This will certainly damage your health and your baby’s health in turn. Also read 4 Tips On How Mothers Can Deal With Guilt

Don’t Let Opinions From Others Bring You Down

It is often seen that the feelings of guilt, shame or stigma grow stronger when the new mother is burdened with advice by the society at large, be it the neighbours or relatives. ‘Breast is best’ becomes a common advice by overenthusiastic older mothers who become stubborn breastfeeding advocates. Whatever it may be, do not let others define you. You must take care of your own health and not be negatively impacted by the opinions of others. Care for the opinions of family and friends who you trust and talk to them about any issues you face. You should not be answerable to anyone else for any decisions you make on the matter of breastfeeding your own child.

Your Bond with Your Child Does Not Depend On Breastfeeding Alone

It is true that, in the breastfeeding phase, you can develop a close attachment and solid bond with your newborn. Just by the way you hold him close to you while nursing, you begin to understand your baby’s wants and needs. However,his does not in any way mean that breastfeeding is the only tangible way through which you can express your commitment to your baby. There are many other ways you can build your relationship with your newborn. How about singing to him/her, reading him/her a story, cuddling, cooing or dancing? For more tips on bonding with your baby check out Safe sleeping with a newborn baby; How to achieve it?

Formula Supplements Aren’t Bad

Most myths about the dangers of baby formula are completely false. As long as your baby is gaining weight, not falling sick, and is able to sleep well for a long stretch of time, you have no reason to worry about him/her. In fact, studies suggest that breast milk alone cannot provide the necessary nutrients for your baby after the initial 4 to 6 months. So don’t feel guilty if you’re a mother feeding your baby with formula. Consult your lactation professional and decide what is best for your baby. You should not try  to breastfeed the baby while your body does not support you. It can build up stress. Babies can sense when something isn’t quite right and whatever you go through is bound to somewhere affect the baby too.

Prioritize Your Self Care

Just because you cannot breastfeed your newborn does not make you any less of a woman. You do not have to drown yourself in guilt while prioritizing your and your baby’s health. You do not have to go through miserable circumstances of agonizing pain or soreness while breastfeeding, in order to fit the role of an ideal mother. Instead of feeling guilty, enjoy your time with your baby and assure yourself that you did all you could under the given circumstances. When you get rid of your stress and guilt, you will find that your own health will help your infant in growing normal and healthy as well.

Make the Best Choice for Your Baby

One of the major reasons why breast milk is essential for newborns is because it contains the mother’s antibodies which are passed on to the baby for a stronger immune system. Of course, the formula cannot mirror that quality, but you can alter your lifestyle choices in a way that can help your baby grow more safely. Get his/her vaccinations on time and make sure he/she is eating healthy. You can occasionally nurse the baby as much as your body can support you and complement it with baby formula at other times. After all, baby formula was designed for mothers who had trouble or very little time to breastfeed their children. This is a win-win solution for both, the mother and the baby and leads to less stress and better sleep.

Check out the best feeding essentials for babies available on Mumzworld.

In the end, you must understand that guilt has no place in parenting. You must learn to enjoy your children and your parenthood. Don’t beat yourself up. Breastfeeding is simply not for everyone. Stick to baby formula if that works and know that you are doing the right thing. No mother deserves to be judged or criticised for not being able to breastfeed her baby. If anything, they need all the support they can get at this fragile point in their lives.

Also check out How to Begin Weaning