So August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month. Unless perhaps you have been living in a social media (or any type of media for that matter) vacuum, you have probably been seeing all sorts of stories about breastfeeding in public, breastfeeding tips, and breastfeeding gear being advertised. You may have even seen some of these things right here on my blog.

But what if you can’t, or choose not to breastfeed? Does that make you a bad mother? Is it something you should be ashamed of?

What you may not realize is that with my first son I failed at breastfeeding.

When I was pregnant, I just assumed that I would breastfeed. I admit that I even mentally judged moms who didn’t breastfeed? I mean, why wouldn’t you give your child a leg up in life by feeding them breastmilk? Plus, it’s FREE!

Then, my son was born. 

He was three weeks early and the picture of perfection — he just couldn’t latch. They told me he might just be too tired from the labor and the medications they used. I tried again later that night, but no go. They said I should just keep trying. 

It was over 24 hours since my son was born and he still wouldn’t nurse. I was panicked. I asked for a breast pump so that I could at least bottle feed him. In my ultra-hormonal state I had all these fears running through my mind. 

If I didn’t breastfeed would this mean my son would get sick more often? Would he be at a higher risk for SIDS? Would I be able to bond appropriately with him?

Despite trying over and over in the days that followed my son’s birth he just couldn’t latch on. The pediatrician sayid he was slightly tongue-tied and wouldn’t be able to latch. Plus, I didn’t have an amazing lactation consultant to talk to like I did this time. I was heartbroken.

I began pumping every three hours and bottle feeding my son. This whole process was exhausting though. I made way too much milk, always felt engorged, and was leaking everywhere. Plus it was incredibly time consuming. Between the time it took to pump, and then to feed my son, it all seemed never-ending. Did I mention I was exhausted?

I was also battling with postpartum depression and anxiety. I couldn’t sleep. I was irritable and irrational. I cried all the time. When my son was 2 months old I decided I was done. 

I stopped pumping and went to the doctor to treat the postpartum depression. I began feeding my son formula. 

And you know what? The world didn’t end.

My son adapted to formula well. He kept gaining weight. He didn’t get sick. In fact, he’s only ever had one antibiotic in his life. He and I are super close and extremely well bonded. 

Quitting breastfeeding was the best decision I could have made. My son was happy and healthy and I was way less stressed out.

If you are a mom who either can’t breastfeed, or choose not to breastfeed, don’t beat yourself up. Only you know what is right for you and your family, and it is a choice that only you can make. Don’t let anyone make you feel inferior just because you didn’t breastfeed. 

Love your kids. Spend time with them. Cherish every moment you have together. There isn’t enough breastmilk in the world that can make up for those things. 

Plus, you can have a margarita and not feel guilty. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Did you also struggle with breastfeeding? If so, what did you struggle with?

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    1. I completely feel your pain. It took me a while to get over it too. It wasn’t until I realized that none of my fears came true and we were both happy and healthy that it didn’t matter whether I breastfed or not. I am actually breastfeeding my youngest son (6 months) now but even if he wasn’t able to I would have been ok with it.

  1. My first child took two days to latch on, then fortunately he figured it out, but I still remember how stressful it was. I can definitely understand why you would stop pumping after two months, ultimately it’s far more important for the baby to have a happy mother.

  2. I breastfeed my son and when my daughter came along, I thought I would breastfeed her as well. I had some complications after giving birth and was on medications that were unsafe for her. She was only breastfed for 2 weeks. Yes, I would have rather breastfed her, but she’s now 27 and is in perfect health. I don’t feel guilty at all. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I am a breastfeeding mother and remember the nights of waking up every two to three hours to pump breastmilk for my twins who were in the NICU after their early arrival of 31 weeks, 6 days. It was exhausting and an all day job because I had to travel almost an hour to see them daily with my cooler full of breastmilk, try to nurse one or both of them, pump some milk while visiting them, get back in the car for another hour to get hooked back up to the breast pump at home. My story is different from yours though because I was able to breastfeed once they got home but each Mom has a different story and journey with her little ones. Mine did receive some formula and I am fine with that. Not all little ones are born to their mothers (adoption). All three of my children have drank breastmilk and formula. Thanks for your encouraging words to all Moms! We all need support!

  4. How refreshing it is to finally read a blog post like this. I have four beautiful HEALTHY daughters and have struggled to breastfeed every one of them. The first daughter I only breastfed one day before developing mastitis, a high fever, and very sick to where I couldn’t even hold her the first few days. Thanks goodness my mom was there to help me care for her. We very much bonded as she is 13 now.
    My second daughter, now 11, was only breastfed for 2 weeks. I was running my own CPA firm, it was tax season when she was born, I was very stressed and the milk just completely dried up.
    My third daughter, 3 years old, I breastfed for 3 weeks. I was so determined to breastfeed her, but my supply was so low after tryihg everything under the sun to increase it.
    My fourth baby, who is now 4 months old, was the longest. I breastfed her for 10 weeks woohoo! She is my record holder! Ha! I had ample supply, but to be honest, I was too exhausted to continue. She is a slow eater and I felt like she was attached 24/7. It it hard to homeschool and parent 3 other children when you have an infant attached to you all day. So I quit.
    Do I regret it? yes and no. I miss the closeness, but I know that I am a much better mom to ALL of my children now that I quit because I am more rested and able to keep up with them better.
    By the way, all of my formula fed babies are very healthy. No ear infections and hardly ever have to be on antibiotics. So no worries momma!

  5. Good post! I was able to breastfeed my babies but I honestly don’t think it matters. Do what you can do. Your son is healthy and happy that’s the only thing that matters.

  6. I was able to successfully breastfeed one of my four children. My daughter who was first started breastfeeding and then she developed an allergy to milk. She ended up on special formula at three weeks old. With my third and fourth children I developed pre-clampsia and with all the meds and stuff I didn’t get to breastfeed them either. It’s just how things worked out and I don’t let it bother me at all.

  7. I want to reach through the monitor and give you a hug! Breastfeeding was a huge struggle for me as well, my daughter was born with a lip-tie, she lost a lot of weight, my anatomy didn’t help the situation at all. I was very blessed to find a patient, IBCLC who was knowledgeable in everything we were having issues with. Now a few years later my issue is weaning ๐Ÿ˜‰ As my daughter gets older I’ve learned that what seemed like world-ending crises at the time were really a small moment in time. There are so many things I do as a mom that I swore up and down I never would…TV anyone??

  8. This is a beautiful post. The world makes too make out of nothing at times. Am glad you did not carry an unnecessary weight of guilt. I breastfed both my children but I had a c-section and that was queried by so many family members and friends however, I didn’t feel guilty because it was beyond my control.

  9. Yes, I failed with both of my children. With my first one, I couldn’t produce enough. He was a big baby and ate a lot. My second baby was nine weeks early so I couldn’t breastfeed him and didn’t have any luck pumping. Thanks for sharing your story. It’s nice to hear that other people struggled with breastfeeding too.

  10. I agree 100%. Like other adoptees, I was raised on formula and not breast milk and I was a happy, healthy baby who bonded with my Mom. It’s important to remember that there’s not one right way to be a parent, You have to do what works for your own family and not worry about anyone else’s. Great post!

  11. It is another heap of unnecessary guilt society puts on a new Mum. She MUST do this, she MUST do that. Well done for overcoming this and being the best you can! Ther eis one way to travel – forward, but there are many ways to get there!

  12. It is another heap of unnecessary guilt society puts on a new Mum. She MUST do this, she MUST do that. Well done for overcoming this and being the best you can! There is one way to travel – forward, but there are many ways to get there!

  13. I think all moms have different challenges, and we don’t always know what other women have been through. We need to support mothers as they try to do the best they can for their babies in whatever situation they are in.

  14. Omg I totally relate to this post. I had so many issues with my first child with breastfeeding and I felt like the world’s biggest failure for not getting it right. Then I realized it was ok. So by the second I was much more relaxed and ended up nursing my daughter for over 18 months!

  15. I am so feeling you mommy. I have 2 kids. My eldest was able to get the first drops which they say is the healthiest for the baby but on the 5th day, my milk was gone. Advises of taking soup, or hot compress and some vitamins didn’t work. So I decided to give formula milk for my daughter. For my 2nd child, I know what to do and prepared myself to breastfed him. Unfortunately I suffered from pre-enclampsia and it really made me so depressed that the medicines I am taking can be absorbed by my baby, so, yes, I failed in breastfeeding, but that doesn’t mean we are less of a mom, all Moms wanted the best for their babies and we can do it our own way. Cheer up Mom. You’re not alone.

  16. Breastfeeding may be natural, but it’s definitely not easy nor for everyone. With my first child, I didn’t even last a week. I had such a difficult time. One night, she cried and cried and I couldn’t get her to successfully nurse. My mother-in-law stormed into our bedroom, as I was half-undressed, because she thought there was something wrong with my daughter. I was so embarrassed. After she left the room, I started crying uncontrollably. Then I handed my daughter to my husband along with a pre-made bottle of formula the hospital sent us home with, and I locked myself in our bathroom. That was the end.

    With my second child, I was a little bit more successful. I was able to get her to latch on, but she wasn’t gaining enough weight. So, the doctor insisted I supplement with formula. After that, she didn’t want to nurse anymore.

    Breastfeeding my last child was the best experience and lasted the longest. I nursed him for about six months. Unfortunately, I had to have medical testing that required I take medication that wasn’t safe while breastfeeding. My son went on formula and I pumped and dumped. After it was safe to resume nursing, my son wouldn’t have it. He was so used to being bottle fed that he didn’t want to nurse anymore. That was the end for him. If I didn’t have to take that break, I’m sure I would have been able to keep nursing him successfully.

    All my failures did leave me feeling sad and guilty at first. Eventually, I realized that I did the best I could and that my children (27, 25 & 21) still did just fine.

  17. I’m sorry it didn’t work out with the breastfeeding but I’m glad things worked out for both of you. I also struggled with latching and I pumped the first month. Nicky was also tongue tied but we took care of that with a snip pretty early on. (It helps that my mom is a lactation consultant and doctor). I felt a lot of pressure to breastfeed from her though. Those first three months I combo fed with formula because I struggled with the night feeds and just feeding in general. It took a lot of work and determination but I did it: I went over to exclusive breastfeeding by four months. I know there are health benefits. I think every mom has her own story and I’m glad you own yours. Even my own mom did not breast feed me because she did not have the support she needed.

  18. I’m one of those people living in a vacuum. I don’t follow parenting blogs and I don’t have a lot of friends with kids – we’re dog people – so I didn’t even know there was a breastfeeding awareness month; but it makes sense. One thing I have heard over and over is the drama surrounding breastfeeding. You’re offending people if you do it in public. You’re pressured to breastfeed, because it’s more natural and better for the baby. You’re judged if you choose to go a different route. Adding all that pressure when you have a new baby, tons of hormones, and little support can’t be easy. Just another reason to respect mothers.

    I truly couldn’t imagine. I get mad when my boyfriend doesn’t check on me while I’m sick; preferring to stay away from my germs. LOL I’m going to read this post to him, because he’ll get a kick out of it – he keeps telling me that I would have a hard time as a parent and I know he’s right. It’s so hard; rewarding, I’m sure, but so hard.

  19. I cant imagine the agony that this must cause, I was able with out trouble to nurse my 4 kids, I did have a hard time the first time as a new mother, I was lucky that it worked out for my kids.

  20. I’m not a mom yet but now I won’t feel like a bad mother if I don’t get to breastfeed, thanks! As long as my kids are healthy and happy, I wouldn’t worry about not breastfeeding!

  21. I failed at breastfeeding – twice!
    My first son wouldn’t latch on. I had to feed him through a nipple shield, and it would take FOREVER to get him to latch. It was agony, he was hungry all the time and I was miserable. I gave up and switched to formula after 6 weeks.
    When I got pregnant again, I figured this would be a different child and whole different experience. My youngest son wouldn’t latch on. I stayed in hospital for a week, but even the medical “experts” couldn’t make it happen. It was the nipple shield all over again. On my first night home I was sobbing and miserable, and he was screaming and hungry. My husband pointed out that formula feeding would make us both happier and able to enjoy the new baby.
    I failed at breastfeeding. I now have two big and strong boys (aged 6 and 8) who are happy and healthy. So I’m OK with that.

  22. I failed at breastfeeding – twice!
    My first son wouldn’t latch on. I had to feed him through a nipple shield, and it would take FOREVER to get him to latch. It was agony, he was hungry all the time and I was miserable. I gave up and switched to formula after 6 weeks.
    When I got pregnant again, I figured this would be a different child and whole different experience. My youngest son wouldn’t latch on. I stayed in hospital for a week, but even the medical “experts” couldn’t make it happen. It was the nipple shield all over again. On my first night home I was sobbing and miserable, and he was screaming and hungry. My husband pointed out that formula feeding would make us both happier and able to enjoy the new baby.
    I failed at breastfeeding. I now have two big and strong boys (aged 6 and 8) who are happy and healthy. So I’m OK with that.

  23. I was very lucky and was able to nurse both of my boys until they were 9 months old (with MUCH trial and error, I must add.) My sister is 5 years younger and when she had her boys years later, she was unsuccessful. It was so difficult to see her through the sadness and guilt; especially since she had seen me nurse many, many times. Then I FELT GUILTY!! Why are we women so hard on ourselves? Each of us is unique in so many ways and there is a wide range of parenting approaches. When unconditional love is given freely, our children thrive. Even with a bottle in their mouths! Keep up the good work mama. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Didi

  24. For sure blaming yourself is not healthy. Every child is different. I am a believer in letting them figure it out. What would cavewomen do?

  25. I didn’t breastfeed either one of my daughters…they are 26 and 22 and perfectly healthy. To be honest, I never even had the urge to breastfeed and back then they didn’t push it near as much as they do these days.

  26. I can relate. I was also one that had trouble nursing my younger 2, but my oldest nursed just fine. We, as moms, should comfort one another instead of judging. <3

  27. You are a great mom. You did the best for your son. You gave him all that you had. You are by no means a failure. You are strong and determined. Be proud of yourself!

  28. I think this is a great post. I’ve finally realized it’s all about doing what is right for you and not worrying about everyone else is doing (easier said than done!)

  29. I made the decision not to breast feed before my first was born. When my second was born I had a nurse that would not let up until I at least tried. It stressed me to my limit and I finally put my foot down and said enough already. Both girls turned into healthy children, adolescents and now adults! For those who chose to breast feed, I think that is wonderful but I just knew it wasn’t the right decision for me.

  30. You are so brave to be so honest. I wanted to breast feed with my girls but it just didn’t work out. My first daughter I tried so hard and after the pain of being engorged with a blister on my ninny and all of the at home remedies to fix it, I gave up because it was giving her belly aches going back and forth to formula and milk. With my second daughter I went back to work when she was only 6 days old. It was just more convenient to bottle feed.

  31. I relate you 100% and also feeling just perfect with that. It was painful and difficult, and my baby was hungry…. what is worst? having a baby hungry,.,. so I just gave her formula and Iยดm so happy with that decision.

  32. I tried to breastfeed as long as I could. Both kids would nurse for 45 minutes straight, then still be hungry and drink another 2 ounces of formula. By the end of all that – they wanted to eat again an hour later because it had been 2 hours since the beginning of their last feed.
    After 3 months I stopped because going back and forth was too much and I was very unhappy. We switched to formula and I was a happier mommy to my kids. But I did try and pumped and saw the lactation consultant. I tried.

    I find it sad how we even have to feel guilty or excuse ourselves for these choices. Nobody cared or talked about this 100 years ago. Who had the time to care? Women spent sun up and to sundown making bread, farming, sewing, cooking, milking the cow, taking care of the chickens. I think maybe our generation has way too much time on its hands.

  33. I wasn’t able to even try it with my 2. I was on medication both pregnancies and it would have been passed to them had I breast feed. I always wonder if I missed out on this. My tubes are tied now, so doubt I get to try it ๐Ÿ™

  34. We are about to have our first child. I have been hearing a lot of different people’s stories and opinions on breastfeeding. I really want to try it. Like you said it is free and healthy, but I also understand that there may be circumstances that prevent it. I am trying to go into it without fear, but also without unrealistic expectations.

  35. I’m not a mom, but know a few who wanted to breastfeed and some who didn’t…and it’s all ok! It’s a personal decision, and you have to do what’s best for you.

  36. Oh my… excellent topic. New moms be aware… It’s a battle… You want to but you can’t.. .Someone is getting to much milk you are barely getting an ounce.. Remember when you pumped and something happened and spilled everywhere.. Wow… that was date night and we couldn’t go anywhere… we were stuck and I cried my eyes out. That stuff is worth it’s weight in gold. Ha but yes, it’s okay, you are okay and fine!! Thanks for sharing..

  37. Whenever I see a friend in doubt, I say “My mom didn’t nurse me and I turned out ok.”. Many of us born in the ’70s were raised on formula because our moms were liberated women of the ’70’s who didn’t want to be tied down to breastfeeding. It’s interesting to see how pressure swings the other direction. The biggest gift, of course, is to be a nurturing mother, no matter the source of the bottle.

  38. You didn’t fail. You did breast feed your son for two months and it wasn’t easy for you so I think you deserve an “Amazing Mom” award. I breast fed my boys, but the first one was really hard and when I went back to work I had a hard time pumping enough milk so I supplemented with formula. He turned out just fine. In fact he just got into the gifted program at school.

  39. I don’t have kids, and will never breast feed, but one of my good friends just weened her 17 month old!! I felt bad for her because her daughter lately has been getting mad at her when it’s time to eat, actually hitting her when she was hungry. So I guess in a way, it’s possible to breast feed too long ๐Ÿ™‚

  40. All 4 our our kids breastfed…and watching my wife soldier through this was harrowing. All Mom’s who breast feed, and try to breast feed deserve a medal. A ton of: work, pain, and benefits, of course.

  41. I have breast feed my three children…but each story is as different as that child! My first son was a spitter. I didn’t have support and didn’t know better, so when I was told he would do better with formula, I switched. He didn’t stop spitting up until he was a year old. My second child, she latched perfect, rarely spit up and was a comfort nurser. We spent 15 months breastfeeding and I loved every moment of it. When my next daughter was born, I was determined to do the same thing. Only she couldn’t latch right. She was causing me pain and damage. I cried nonstop during all feedings for the 6 weeks I nursed her. When I finally realized I was bleeding while nursing her, I had to stop. I had the hardest time with this. Now 3 weeks later I am at peace with my decision. Daddy gets to bond with her more during their bottle feeding times and she is just fine. I no longer need to cry while feeding her and can enjoy our time together. Each child is different and as much as I love breastfeeding, sometimes it just isn’t what will work for the two of us.

  42. Great post. I experienced the same problem with breastfeeding, so I would supplement with formula. I think this is a great post for new moms who are new to this. Breastfeeding can be tough, but it is okay if you decide to formula feed. You’re definitely not a failure.

  43. I love this. Truly. I nursed my 2yo for six months but had issues getting her to latch for the first month and had to supplement with formula because I wasn’t pumping enough and had to be separated from her for little periods of time. I quit nursing when her dad and I separated for a while – I had to go back to work and I wasn’t going to be able to pump while working at the CAT plant on the manufacturing line. She was 6 months old. Now, I’m pregnant with #2, a lot more informed and ready to nurse at least 12 months. I never had a production problem – actually my only problem was not pumping enough between feedings, I got mastitis 3x in 6 months! – so I’m hoping that maybe I’ll make enough to donate to anyone who can’t produce or a NICU. ๐Ÿ™‚ There is nothing wrong with not nursing – some women just can’t produce, some are too busy because they have to go back to work right after baby’s born, and for some the emotional strain is too much. Breastfeeding is hard. Not breastfeeding is hard. But a mom has to do what is best for her and baby – not just either or. You did. Which means you = super mom. ๐Ÿ™‚

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