Breastfeeding Problems – Excuses, Pressure, and the Real Deal

I read an article this morning that got me thinking.  It seems like whenever breastfeeding comes in conversation (and it does far more than I’d like), the mom who isn’t breastfeeding gives a reason.  Breastfeeding problems are frequently cited as she pulls out a bottle.  Over at The Alpha Parent, the piece Newsflash: Breastfeeding Requires Effort talked about how breastfeeding problems are more often excuses for not breastfeeding.

She’s right.

This may surprise you to see from me, particularly since I did not breastfeed any of my children.   I’ve also been really up front about how I don’t want to breastfeed.  It’s not that I’m physically incapable.  When I had Eudora, I had some bad nasty engorgement.  It took ten minutes for me to get two and a half ounces when I pumped to relieve the engorgement.  I wondered how much I would have gotten out if I’d really decided to go for exclusively pumping.

So, yeah.  The milk was there.

If I had the milk, then why didn’t I want to use it?  I have psychological hang ups about breastfeeding.  Thank my mother for it.  It took some time for me to be comfortable with other people breastfeeding around me.  (No, I’d never, ever tell someone to cover up or leave, no matter how uncomfortable I was at the time.  My psychological hang ups do not trump the rights of another parent to feed her baby.  So let’s not even go there.)  I did give breastfeeding a try with Eudora.  I felt morally obligated to do so, in spite of my extreme discomfort with the idea.  It ended when I had to quickly hand my daughter back to the nurse and vomit.

Lactation consultant and lactivist friends of mine agreed that for me, breastfeeding would be traumatic and not at all bonding.  I make no excuses or apologies for that.

But there are others who do make excuses for why she isn’t breastfeeding.  I’m not going to go over how making these excuses can be damaging to those who really had legitimate physical, drug interaction, or psychological reasons for not breastfeeding.  (The Alpha Mom already did a great job at that.  Go read her post.)  I’m more interested in why excuses are made for not overcoming breastfeeding problems in the first place.

Take a look at the pregnancy message boards out there.  Even though I already knew that there was no way that I’d breastfeed Norton, there was a lot of pressure out there to do it.  Some of the first time moms would make statements about how only bad mothers didn’t breastfeed, yadda yadda yadda.  When I went to register for the hospital birthing class and tour, the person who did my registration started pushing me to take a breastfeeding class.  When I told her that I wasn’t going to breastfeed, I got a twenty minute diatribe about how breast is best, it’s a bonding experience, and so forth.

I felt like I had to justify my psychological hang up.

That’s wrong.  I shouldn’t have to justify it.

Just like women who don’t even attempt to overcome breastfeeding problems because the interest really isn’t there for whatever reason shouldn’t have to justify pulling out the bottle.

Here’s the thing: it’s no one’s business how you feed your baby.  As long as your baby is getting adequate nutrition and is loved and cared for, your baby will thrive.  A boob is not required for those things.

If you really do want to breastfeed, then you’ll work hard at overcoming those breastfeeding problems (assuming that you’re not in the small percentage of people who really do have supply issues, drug interaction issues, and psychological reasons).  If you don’t want to breastfeed for any reason, there’s no reason to give breastfeeding excuses.  “I don’t want to” is reason enough.

In fact, my own psychological issues are no one’s business but mine and my husband’s.  I’m no longer even inclined to tell someone that I had reasons for not breastfeeding.  I’m not interested in telling them that the medication that I take for migraine prevention and postpartum depression are contraindicated for breastfeeding.

There’s a really simple reason for that: It’s none of their business.

Maybe, just maybe, a whole lot of the mommy wars would be resolved if people came to the conclusion that it’s no one else’s business.  It’s none of my business if you want to breastfeed in the middle of the store.  Just do it.  (And, really, if someone decides to make it their business, the law is on your side.  So do it anyway.)  It’s none of your business why I’m pulling out a bottle to feed Eudora, so no need to give that “I’m superior” glare.  Neither one of us needs to be judged for doing what we feel is best for our babies, our bodies, and our families.


About Suzi

Suzi is an American ex-pat living in British Columbia. She's a cloth diaper addict, wife, mom of three, and President of the Prince George chapter of Cloth for a Cause.


  1. You know what I like about your blog, Suzi? I keep finding relevant posts. You know what my scoop on breastfeeding wound up being – I’m even writing a blog post for you (if you still want it) about the whole thang.

    Where feeding our babies is concerned, other people need to STFU and MTOB. The world would be much better for that 🙂


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