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So-called Breastfeeding Fail

Updated: Jan 23

Moms can’t believe how quickly the first 2 months go by, but that only happens after the first two months are over.

Make a long term commitment to breastfeeding by focusing on one day at a time. Try not to quit on your worst day, because it really can take a two or three months to get comfortable breastfeeding. And while it's true that some moms hit their stride early on, it still takes awhile for anyone's milk supply to even out, and for her to feel really confident that she is breastfeeding well.

There’s a wide, wide range of normal.

Breastfeeding takes many forms. Some women breastfeed exclusively, but in the USA, many more do not. Some women express and breastmilk feed. Some women make enough milk for three babies and their baby won't latch comfortably. Some women use donor milk or formula in a supplementer. Some alternate bottles of formula with breastfeeding. 

When you are in the thick of it, days last forever--you may dread feeding your baby.

You can hate breastfeeding and your baby may even refuse to breastfeed. When you are facing one challenge after another and its affecting your physical, mental or emotional health, its healthy to re-evaluate how committed you are to breastfeeding, or breastmilk feeding.

Before making the decision whether to continue or to stop, you need to look at how much support you have and what resources are available to you for continuing. If you don't have the support from your family to continue, or you don't have information and guidance from professionals, it's going to be very, very hard to breastfeed successfully when you reach a certain point. 

If it isn’t working, it's healthy to accept that it isn't working.

In your life, you will have to find ways that work for you and your family not only with with birth and breastfeeding, but with sleeping, foods, vaccines, discipline, friends, school, and more. There’s more to life than breastfeeding, even though in the beginning, it feels like there is ONLY breastfeeding.

There are many, many reasons why breastfeeding doesn’t work out and you may never know exactly why.

When breastfeeding goes off the rails, almost nobody will sit down with you and explain why. There are only a few professionals who will give you a full report of why its not working. It's not like infertility where you get a lab report with numbers and diagnoses. Instead, you get a container of formula, and a shrug... "It doesn't work for everyone..."

But even if you do know why, it’s still not what you wanted.

It’s sad and even devastating, when you have to stop breastfeeding before you are ready to. And, it takes a while to grieve your loss even if you feel relieved that you stopped. It’s normal to have mixed feelings about ending breastfeeding. You may feel angry, sad, defensive or resentful, and relieved and happy, all at the same time. It's normal to cry and be weepy about weaning, and then feel better when your baby gives you a goofy grin.

Feeling your feelings doesn’t mean you are a bad mom, it means you are a healthy mom.

Give yourself time to be sad; to be angry; to rage at yourself, your doctor, the hospital, the world, or even God. Anger is expression of an injustice that has been done, and it's a force for positive change. You may fill a journal full of bad thoughts. And, you may also find your life’s purpose through your anger, and need for change.

Accept it, grieve your loss, and make time to also enjoy your life, and enjoy your baby.

Once you make the decision, you will have energy to discover other things that make you and your baby feel good, and connect with each other. In the end, what matters most is that you love and accept yourself, and your baby.

Everyone deserves to feel successful. When moms don't meet their breastfeeding goals, many women shift gears, expanding into an area of their life where they do feel successful.

The breast is half full, not half empty.

I hope you create your own positive way of thinking about your experience, because any amount of breastmilk, and breastfeeding helps you and your baby. Know that however long you nursed, and however much milk your baby received, you gave them a wonderful start in life, with life-long benefits.

When people, who didn't see the cascading chain of events leading to weaning, judge you, it can be helpful to use statements like “I made an informed choice.” and “I didn't plan this, but it's working for me and Little Miss.” Saying things like, “I didn't get the right information and support.” can lead to productive conversations.

Whatever you do, just don’t think, or say, you failed.

Maybe you didn’t breastfeed as much as you wanted to, but you tried and in trying, you got to know yourself and your tremendous courage, strength and love.

Everyone has insurmountable challenges in life, and this is yours, right now.

Your grief right now may be overwhelming and all consuming!

It might help to zoom out and re-frame your current situation. Over the course of your baby's lifetime, you are going to know babies with disabilities, kids with life-threatening allergies, teens who die in car crashes, parents who lose their jobs, friends who have cancer, and so much more.

This is your challenge happening right now.

It's not an easy one, but you will find the strength to get though it, because you love your baby. One day, you will be on the other side of this and you will begin to see, that in the end, there really is more to life than breastfeeding.

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