We Must Not Make Mothers Who Didn’t Breastfeed Feel Guilty..?

We Must Not Make Mothers Who Didn’t Breastfeed Feel Guilty..?

We must NOT make mothers who DIDN’T BREASTFEED feel guilty.

Offending women who DIDN’T BREASTFEED seems to be the latest taboo. 
Never openly say that:
breastfeeding has amazing benefits,
or that breastmilk is the best for a child, 
never point out that formula is not equal, 
never list the various, slight or more serious issues, that can be traced back to artificial substitutes.

The imperative is to formulate a thought that does NOT OFFEND anyone who didn’t breastfeed.

But is this fear justified? Does this problem really exist or is it a creation of social media?

In other words, whenever we want to share an article, a post or research about BREASTFEEDING, we are like:

“Hmmm … there is this news, but how do I write about it without OFFENDING someone?”

Plus often, rather than discussing the actual work, research or opinion, the content gets CRITICISED beforehand because it is considered UNSUITABLE for mothers who do/did not breastfeed
For fear of making them feel guilty. 
And WE, dread being accused of shaming.

Also, questioning women who have failed to breastfeed due to various problems is considered TABOO. 
But then what do we do? Do we declare research on breastfeeding/breastmilk ILLEGAL?

“Let’s INVOLVE women who have not succeeded in breastfeeding, to ensure that the same mistakes are not repeated in the future”

I remember years ago I read a post that spoke about the risks of not breastfeeding and listed the usual: gastrointestinal problems, ear infections, etc… BUT at the end the author ended with this SENTENCE:

“That said it is logical that if you can’t /don’t want to breastfeed you’ll still have a healthy, intelligent and wonderful baby …… If for one reason or another you can’t / don’t want to breastfeed, don’t blame yourself! 
A serene mother is worth more than a thousand antibodies!”

So what’s the POINT of the post? 
First you want to give information, but then you tell me that “it is logical” that said INFO doesn’t count for fear of making the mother who didn’t breastfeed feel guilty?

YES we must be respectful towards every mother, but without being condescending, and this is the key point.

What are the reasons that mothers fail to breastfeed? 
( NOT TALKING about specific medical issues here.)

An absolutely non-exhaustive list may include:
• Pressure from those around you.
• Little motivation.
• Poor quality of health care.
• Difficult combination of work, family and breastfeeding.
• Absence of examples of “live” breastfeeding.
• etc…
Unfortunately, breastfeeding FAILURES are a fact, but how do we solve this situation?

I think, by making the mothers who wanted and COULD breastfeed but didn’t succeed, COME INTO PLAY.

By simply changing the perspective and the type of conversation, MOVING from:

“We must not make mothers who didn’t breastfeed (or breastfed longer) feel guilty”

Towards a more constructive:

“Let’s INVOLVE women who feel that they have not succeeded in breastfeeding to ensure that the same mistakes are not repeated in the future”.


Women who have experienced difficulties and didn’t succeed at breastfeeding are the BEST ones to ask for a change in mentality AND in the structures

After all, they have experienced these problems first hand and KNOW what it means to have to face a reality that is not what they imagined. 
Who BEST, can give real insights on how to increase the chance of breastfeeding?

-Not the women for whom breastfeeding was a walk in the park, as they might have little to contribute.

-Not those who were not interested in breastfeeding in the first place, as they have nothing to teach.

But THE WOMEN WHO TRIED and are not satisfied with how things went, have EVERYTHING to teach and are the ones that should show off all kind of studies, demanding loudly that those who will become mothers tomorrow live a better experience, because they deserve it.

I THINK that this could HELP overcome the disappointment of not having been able to breastfeed, much, MUCH MORE than letting themselves being consumed by a sense of guilt, FAILURE, or shame. And by no means, I intend to imply here, that every mother should feel like this, or does.

These moms are not guilty; they are not a failure nor should be ashamed of anything! 
Nevertheless, for some, these feelings are REAL. And it isn’t unfair. It is heartbreaking. 
But having to tip toe around them, every time we want to talk about breastfeeding isn’t fair either.

If we continue as it has been so far, with this “untouchability “of not-nursing mothers, we will only guarantee the recurrence of the same mistakes and more failed breastfeeding journeys.

If you are one of these moms, if the struggles that afflicted YOU, were not only NOT solved, but not even ADDRESSED, those who come after you will find themselves in the same situation.
No change, no improvement. Just a repeating cycle.

If you are a mother who believes she has been misinformed, badly assisted, not been motivated enough, etc. Won’t you try to help other women solve the problem?

This is the true “sisterhood of motherhood” (as the advertising slogan of an American formula company once said) and not the silence and the absence of debate, as some people would have us believe AND practice.


This kind of message is not only wrong, (because it kind of reinforces the concept that they have something to feel guilty about, when they don’t.) 
but at best it is USELESS and counterproductive. 

It only creates a barrier, fuels the controversy.

Instead, let’s ask these mothers for help.


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3 Replies to “We Must Not Make Mothers Who Didn’t Breastfeed Feel Guilty..?”

  1. Well, sure. But, there is a more fundamental problem to be addressed. And it gets to an important fact. *No one can MAKE YOU FEEL. * Women seem to cling to this notion as an excuse. How often do you hear a man complain that someone made them feel guilty? Women are perfectly capable of being responsible for their own thoughts and feelings. To blame others is just immature. How about we learn this lesson all around, first? Then the conversations can be vastly more productive.

    1. Hi Susan, apologies for my late reply. I just wanted to say you actually make a valid point in my opinion. Unfortunately some are very affected by others opinion and words.

      1. Yes. It’s extremely unfortunate. And it will continue until we teach truth telling. Don’t believe everything you think. Ask “is it true that I’m not a good mother because… (fill in the blank.) Take a stand for yourself! When you do so, other people’s opinions will be easier to see as useless and noisy background noise.

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