Emily Maynard Johnson Opens Up About the Shame She Felt for Quitting Breastfeeding

Emily Maynard

Far too many moms will relate to Emily Maynard Johnson's recent revelation about her breastfeeding experience. And it's too bad. 


The former Bachelorette star opened up to People magazine about how although she breastfed her first two children, when it came to her third, Gibson, who is now 7 months, she quit breastfeeding. She said it was hard with her older two children -- Ricki, 11, and Jennings, now 22 months -- running around. Then she got mastitis, which she said was "worse than childbirth," and ultimately just stopped breastfeeding all together.

Emily told People:

I just quit. I didn't want to tell anybody that I quit. I was trying to hide formula. I saw all of these beautiful breastfeeding pictures, I don't know if I would post a picture like that, but I would love the option. I wanted to so bad.

Our hearts break for her. We hear all the time that "breast is best," and it's true there are wonderful benefits when you're able to breastfeed your baby. But it is not the only healthy way to feed your little one, and unfortunately some of the well-meaning messages about those benefits have become a little too vehement, almost vilifying any other choice. And sometimes it's not a matter of choice.

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For various reasons, some women simply aren't able to breastfeed, and no one should feel shame over it. Shame could even prevent women from seeking help that might allow them to continue breastfeeding when they think they can't.

Even if they can't, no one should ever have to hide formula. But so many women feel as if they have to hide the fact they're not breastfeeding. Studies have even shown a link between postpartum depression and failure to breastfeed. The guilt can be that strong, and that's not healthy for a mom or her baby.

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As heart-wrenching as her confession is, it's great that Maynard is brave enough to speak out about her experience. Not only so that other women know they're not alone, but also to send a message to society that we have to stop the shame. While breast may be "best," a healthy mom who does the best she can for her child is even better.

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