Ukrainian woman with her son. The photo was taken in Kyiv - Image by Iuliia Bondarenko from Pixabay

I feel like a bad mom - I can't breastfeed.

Can't breastfeed Nov 18, 2022

Stories of Mothers Who Couldn't Breastfeed

Some mothers might not get the support they need during those first few days after giving birth, or in some cases, they may feel that their bodies have failed them. Whatever the situation, a mother should never feel guilty or be made to feel bad about needing to formula feed. Just know that you are not alone.

I Felt Useless

Emma's story

My little boy is six months, and still, this upsets me so much. I feel like a bad mom and a failure as a woman. I struggled to give birth as James was in the back-to-back position, so he was born using forceps. Because the epidural took so long to wear off, the nurses pretty much did everything for James when he was born - I feel that the initial bonding experience wasn't there.

I never produced any milk, not a drop - it just didn't happen. James didn't feed for over 24hrs, so he was put on formula. Nobody once explained to me why this happened or offered any support. Breastfeeding is just expected - there was no advice on which formula to give.

When I got home, I just cried - I had no formula in hand and no idea how to work the sterilizer. I felt useless. My baby was hungry, and I couldn't give him what he needed. We are frowned upon as lazy people who chose the easy option!

Should I Have Tried Harder?

Bev's story

My daughter is now three months old, and I love her more than I ever knew possible. I wanted to breastfeed - it was always my plan, but part of me knew it might not be achievable.

During puberty, my breasts never seemed to develop fully. I was a size 12 (UK size) but barely filling an AA bra. I felt so out of proportion and was very insecure, so much so that I got a breast enlargement.

I'm kicking myself that I never went to the doctors beforehand to examine my breasts, or lack thereof. When my daughter was born, I breastfed her, but she lost far too much weight. The midwife told me that if she lost any more, she would have to be hospitalized.

I was told I needed to breastfeed, then express, and top up with formula. I did as told, but I produced less than an ounce by pumping at least eight times a day. Then I got mastitis. I wasn't in a lot of pain, but my breasts were hot to the touch and had red patches on them. My nipples were also incredibly sore - I was exhausted.

When I went to the midwife to be examined, I told her I would stop breastfeeding. She made me feel even worse by telling me that it felt like there was a lot of milk and that it was a shame I was drying up.

I didn't want to starve my baby. I never got engorged, which led me to believe there wasn't any milk there. My daughter is exclusively formula-fed now and is happy, but I often get comments on how big she is, and I worry it's because she's formula-fed.

Maybe I should have tried for longer and done more to increase my supply, but I was so exhausted, and it seemed futile. I still feel guilty about it now. If I were to have another baby, maybe I would try again, but I don't know if it would be different. There should be more support for women like us. I feel like such a failure and a bad mom.

baby sleeping on mom, mother and baby
Baby sleeping on mother's chest - Image by samuel Lee from Pixabay

It Took Me Years to Come to Grips

Sabrina's story

Wow, finally, people who care and have been through this too. My first was a new experience - no change in my breast, and I was worried, but the Dr said my milk would come in.

The first week home with my darling was exhausting, feeding, sleeping, feeding. I went for a two-week check-up, and we were admitted to the hospital because she was losing weight. I cried so many nights, feeling like a bad mom, and it took me years to come to grips.

When I got pregnant again, I was planning to breastfeed, armed with consultants and information, ready with medication, and the Dr knew. I would sit and feed for an hour, and she would want to eat again in 20 min, so the cycle started again. By week one, she was on formula, and its the hardest decision to make.

I hate going out and seeing nursing moms or breastfeeding commercials on TV because I feel like a failure. I am still working through the emotions, anger, and sadness, but I keep reminding myself I have a healthy, happy baby now, and that's what matters.

You Are Not a Bad Mother

Helga's story

You are not a bad mother, and from another mom who has had the same issues as you, it is hard not to get emotionally wrapped up in it, but you need to focus on loving your little one & yourself!

You have done what you can, which is better than some women do. There needs to be education for those who cannot produce because it is tough to deal with for those who want to breastfeed, and it sure isn't our fault.
Peace be with you, and may you enjoy this wonderful time in your life. They grow up so fast. Please be kind to yourself & allow yourself to enjoy that beautiful baby.

I Don't Need You Making Me Feel Inadequate

Kristy's story

I had my first child eight years ago and could not breastfeed. I couldn't even pump more than an ounce. I have some insight into why now, a few years later. I came across an article that examined the effects of Polycystic ovarian syndrome and underdeveloped breast sacs.

I suffer from POS and am 38 weeks pregnant with my second. I have such anxiety about being in the hospital, and the nurses made me feel like a bad mother for giving up the first time after my first child lost a whole pound in 4 days as they refused to let me supplement. I have to have a c-section with this child and will be in the hospital for 3-4 days.

I dread the looks and smart-ass comments from the maternity nurses. I wish they would understand that this is not a choice but a need. If any nurse reads this, please don't judge - understand and get off your soapbox. I don't need you making me feel inadequate.

cute baby hand, mom holdng baby's hand
Mom holding baby's hand - Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay

Wanted to Breastfeed So Badly

Sam's story

Thank you so much for these stories! I cried reading them because it all sounded like what happened to me with my son.

I wasn't producing enough milk, and he became dehydrated. We spent an extra four days at the hospital, and I felt like such a bad mom. I had wanted to breastfeed so badly.

Luckily, I have amazing in-laws who bought me formula and gave me so much positive support when I had to bottle feed.

I am due in a month with my second child, and while I would like to breastfeed, I won't hesitate to give him formula this time.


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