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I Didn't Breastfeed and I Don't Feel Bad About It

Photograph by Twenty20

I remember the day my son was born, and the nurse put him on me to breastfeed. I made an attempt, but it just wasn’t working. He wouldn't latch on. I didn’t give up—at first. I tried while we were in the hospital, I tried at home and a family member even tried helping me. Guess what? Still nothing. My son just didn’t want to latch on.

My next option was to pump. As hard as I tried, there was very little to show for it. At the very least, my baby got some sort of breast milk, which is amazing. But there are some moms who, for various reasons, aren't able to do even that. Or maybe they simply choose not to. They feel hopeless or bad about not being able to breastfeed. I tried everything that I was told. In the end, I don’t feel bad about not being able to breastfeed—I tried my best.

We seem to be bombarded daily by the “breastfeeding police." No offense to moms who prefer to breastfeed. Kudos to you. But it’s the ones who throw hurtful words my way if I don't feed my baby in the way they think is perfect that really upset me.

It’s not so easy living in a world where you’re constantly judged as a mom. Between vaccine debates, breastfeeding and other parenting styles, some moms seem always ready and willing to check you on something.

People post on Facebook all the time about breastfeeding, basically putting down other moms who don't nurse. I've learned to just kept scrolling. You should never let someone else’s judgment impact your decision and feelings about yourself, especially as a mother. Your decision has to be something you really want. If you chose not to breastfeed, you have to let go of the guilt. Those of us who don’t breastfeed are not bad moms. Those who breastfeed aren’t better mothers, either.

You should never let someone else’s judgment impact your decision and feelings about yourself, especially as a mother.

I hear all the time that babies and mothers bond by breastfeeding. I’m sure they do. But that’s not the only way. As I said, I couldn’t breastfeed my son, but he is super close to me. We have an awesome bond and always have. There are several other ways to bond with your baby, too, such as feeding him when he’s hungry, making eye contact while talking to him and picking him up when he cries. Those things help build trust.

Bonding is also not the only issue people debate when it comes to breastfeeding vs. formula feeding. If you were ever nervous about your child having a lower IQ because of formula feeding, the studies that reported that have been criticized. (Also, my son, now 7, is seriously a math wizard. Not to mention, he shocked everyone with how soon he was able to say his alphabet.)

If you’re a mom who, like me, didn’t breastfeed but you feel guilty about it, you have to let it go. Whether you tried to breastfeed or not, you’re a good mom. You’re feeding your child, right?

Trust me, I totally get the benefits of breastfeeding. It’s a great way to feed your baby, but if you can’t for your own personal reasons, there’s no reason to beat yourself up about it.

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