Stop Feeling Guilty About Not Breastfeeding

baby with bottleRead any post about breastfeeding and it's likely a mom who didn't breastfeed will get offended. Even if the words are chosen carefully, even if it's not saying anything negative about a woman who doesn't nurse her baby for whatever reason. We are sensitive creatures. Especially moms. Particularly when it has anything to do with our kids.

Mention something we should be doing or that is best for babies, and if it's something a mom didn't do, she's going to get defensive, she may be hurt, and it brings on that mom guilt that we've all felt.

But we need to stop. Stop this guilt.


Guilt does nothing for us. It's not a positive emotion. It's crippling. Moms don't need this. We have kids to take care of. Don't dwell in what you didn't do, instead focus on what you can do now. Make your kids laugh, give them sweet hugs, play fun music and have mommy and me dance parties. And if you aren't breastfeeding, then make the best damn formula bottle anyone could make!

I know it's not that easy. I have been kicked in the butt by mom guilt. I breastfed my twins until around 16 months, but I had to supplement with formula because I never produced enough. Of course the thoughts of what did I do wrong to not produce enough went through my head. And then when they weaned themselves, I felt guilty, too. What did I do to make them wean? I wasn't ready for them to wean.

How quickly we learn it's not about us or what we want.

That guilt I felt was silly. I see this now. Still, I am a breastfeeding advocate. All women should be armed with the knowledge about the best ways to feed your baby. Breastfeeding should and needs to be encouraged. Mothers need to be supported to have breastfeeding success. But if a mom has been given all the information on breastfeeding and formula, and she is making an informed decision for herself not to breastfeed for whatever reason, then she shouldn't feel guilty. You made the best decision for you. Simple. Done. Don't look back. You are not a bad mother. Formula feeders love their babies, too.

Maybe there should be a cute shirt for formula moms proudly boasting: Formula feeders do it with a shake and a shimmy! And then have an image of a hand shaking a bottle. Okay, maybe not. But we do need to lighten up this topic. We can't keep tearing each other down. Motherhood is worse than Mean Girls sometimes. And it's both the breastfeeders and the formula feeders and every kind of feeder in between who bash the other. Guilt fuels it even more!

This stop feeling guilty now plea is for the moms who really wanted to nurse but just couldn't, the moms who supplemented, and those who wanted to make it to a year but didn't. All of you formula feeders, please don't feel guilty. When women who feel the guilt read anything on the topic of breastfeeding, don't let that guilt creep out and get defensive. And the hows and whys of it is no one else's business. 

Instead of feeling guilty, moms who use formula should rally together to make formula safer and better for those who need to use it. Because the reality is that not everyone can breastfeed. But even if it's just one baby on formula, that one baby does deserves the best when breastmilk isn't an option.

Oh and if all you worry about when looking at the photo above is whether or not that's breastmilk in the bottle and you can't see that ridiculously cute baby, then you should see a doctor.

Do you agree that we need to stop the breastfeeding guilt? Do we need to be more supportive to each other as mothers?

Image via abbybatchelder/Flickr

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