giving up breastfeeding guilt

We Need To Talk About “Giving Up Breastfeeding” Guilt: 5 Points To Remember

Amidst the sleepless nights and healing bodies, we often hear the phrase “giving up” associated with stopping breastfeeding. This term carries a heavy weight and can contribute to the feeling of guilt, failure, and shame. It’s time to reframe the conversation around breastfeeding and empower new moms by using more supportive language.

In this blog post, I will discuss why we should stop calling it “giving up breastfeeding guilt” and instead celebrate every mother’s unique journey in feeding her baby.

Point 1: Don’t call it ‘Giving Up’

The phrase “giving up” carries a negative connotation that implies defeat or failure. By using this term, we inadvertently create a sense of guilt and inadequacy in new moms who may be struggling with breastfeeding.

Instead, let’s call it “making a different decision” to feed your baby. This language shift helps to acknowledge that every mother’s experience is unique, and there are various valid choices when it comes to feeding her baby.

All new mothers have the right to make decisions that work best for them and their babies. Every mother’s journey is different, and no one should feel judged or shamed for their choices. By changing the language we use, we can create a more supportive and nurturing environment for all new moms.

Point 2: Every decision you make is the right decision

When you become a mom, you quickly realize that there is no manual or step-by-step guide to raising a child! Every baby is unique, and what works for one might not work for another. In the realm of feeding your baby, the most crucial aspect to remember is that every decision you make is the right one for your situation.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to feeding a baby, and different methods work for different mothers and babies.

Whether you exclusively breastfeed, pump, use baby formula, or a combination of these methods, you’re doing what’s best for your baby and yourself.

It’s essential to listen to your body, your baby, and your instincts, and trust that you know what’s right for you.

Point 3: It’s okay to ask for help

Nursing can be a beautiful bonding experience between a mom and her baby. However, it can also be challenging, confusing, and sometimes downright frustrating. It’s essential to remember that it’s completely normal and okay to ask for help, advice, and guidance.

In fact it is expected and encouraged – although a natural process, women for centuries have shared techniques and supported the learning process.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend, family member, or fellow mom who has gone through similar experiences. Sharing stories, tips, and advice can help you feel supported and less alone.

Additionally, consider consulting with an IBCLC lactation consultant who can offer professional guidance and support tailored to your specific needs.

Lactation consultants are trained professionals in nursing, who specialize in helping mothers and babies with breastfeeding.

They can provide valuable advice on latch techniques, addressing common breastfeeding problems, and finding a comfortable nursing position. By seeking help, you’re taking a proactive step to ensure a more positive breastfeeding experience for both you and your baby.

Point 4: Follow your instincts

As a new mom, you are your baby’s best advocate.

No one knows your baby better than you do.

When it comes to feeding your baby, trust your instincts and listen to your body. If breastfeeding is causing you pain or discomfort, it’s okay to try pumping for a while, give formula in a bottle or try a pacifier for a while. Remember, your baby will not forget how to latch in 48 hours!

The most important thing is that your baby is fed, and you’re both comfortable and happy with the feeding method you choose.

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, breastfeeding just doesn’t work out as planned. It’s important to know that it’s perfectly okay if you need to change your approach. Don’t be too hard on yourself – you’re doing your best, and your baby’s well-being is the priority.

Don’t forget to communicate with your partner or support system about your feelings and concerns. They can provide reassurance, and encouragement, and help you with practical matters like feeding, burping, or soothing your baby.

Point 5: Stop worrying about what other people think

If we are honest with ourselves most of the feelings we have about ourselves stem from what we believe other people think about us.

This is because we were brought up to measure our own self-worth by how proud our elders felt of us. Instead, consider how your behavior actually makes you feel:

  • Are you your own biggest fan?

  • Are you making yourself feel proud?

  • Do you celebrate all your smallest achievements by allowing your self-esteem to grow?

As mothers, we naturally always put other people before ourselves and that’s normal of course. But don’t tie yourself up in knots guessing what other people think.

Is it selfish to not want to breastfeed? No, it’s not. As a mother, we always prioritize what’s best for our babies and that also means being mindful of moms mental health too.

Moms face a lot of judgement whether it’s for having an occasional drink, the way they exercise, how they play with their baby, or even the clothes they choose for their little one. Try your best to ignore all of this and instead make choices based on your own research, not other people’s opinions.

Don’t spend hours comparing yourself to other moms on social media or at baby groups. It’s a waste of time and your motherhood journey is yours alone!

Overcoming “Giving Up Breastfeeding Guilt”

Quitting breastfeeding can be a tough decision, but it’s essential to remember that your baby’s health and happiness come first. Many women choose to quit breastfeeding for various reasons, and it’s okay to prioritize your well-being and your baby’s needs.

The frustration is that there is no need to feel guilty – you have brought a new life into the world and you will always prioritize his or her well-being.

If you choose to stop breastfeeding then that decision will be for good reasons and it is no-ones business as to what those reasons are.

The negative psychological mental health effect of using the phrase ‘Giving Up’

Some people unfairly call it ‘giving up’ breastfeeding because they feel guilty and may believe that “breast is best” and that mothers should continue breastfeeding regardless of their circumstances.

This perspective can contribute to a culture of guilt and shame around the decision to stop breastfeeding.

Using the term “giving up” to describe stopping breastfeeding can have a significant negative impact on a mother’s mental health. It implies failure and reinforces the idea that mothers who stop breastfeeding are somehow inadequate or lesser. This, in turn, can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, and self-doubt. Guilt is a destructive and all-consuming emotion.

As mothers, it’s crucial to recognize that we are doing our best for our children, and our worth is not defined by our ability to breastfeed.

We must change our language and focus on support and understanding rather than judgment and guilt.

Supporting each other’s choices and overcoming guilt

Motherhood is filled with complex emotions and challenges, and no two journeys are the same. As mothers, we must support each other’s choices and lift each other up instead of perpetuating breastfeeding guilt and judgment.

Surrounding ourselves with a supportive network of friends, family, and healthcare professionals like lactation consultants, registered nurses, or mental health specialists can make a significant difference in our breastfeeding experience.

So, let’s celebrate every mother’s unique journey and focus on providing support, understanding, and love to one another. Remember that you are doing your best for your baby, whether you breastfeed exclusively, use formula, or a combination of both.

By embracing our choices without guilt, we can create a community of empowered, confident, and compassionate mothers, ready to face the challenges and joys of motherhood.

Embracing a guilt-free approach to feeding your baby

Every mother’s breastfeeding journey is different – some have a relatively smooth experience, while others face multiple hurdles. Each journey is valid, and it’s essential to honor and embrace your own path without comparison.

By sharing your story, you can not only empower yourself but also support and inspire other mothers going through similar experiences.

It’s a beautiful way to create a community of empowered, confident, and compassionate mothers.

It’s essential to stop feeling guilty about your choice of feeding method, whether it’s breastfeeding, exclusive pumping, formula feeding, or a combination. Many mothers face similar challenges, and it’s crucial to acknowledge that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to feeding a baby.

Embrace a guilt-free mindset and recognize that you are the best mother for your child, whether it’s your first baby or your sixth! Your baby’s happiness and health are what matter most, and by seeking more support and expert advice from healthcare professionals you can navigate the challenges of new motherhood with confidence.

Why do women stop breastfeeding?

The benefits of breastfeeding and breast milk

The benefits of breast milk are well-known:

  • Reduced risk of ear infections, diarrhea, and respiratory infections in breastfed babies

  • Lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

  • Enhanced cognitive development in babies

  • Health benefits for the mother, such as faster postpartum recovery and a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer

Even a short time breastfeeding offers several health benefits for both the mother and baby. According to the World Health Organisation, breast milk provides the ideal nutrition for infants and helps protect them against various illnesses.

Despite the benefits of breast milk, it’s essential to remember that the decision to breastfeed is a personal one, and each mother’s experience is unique.

If breastfeeding is not an option, formula feeding can still provide a healthy and nurturing alternative for the baby.

The main reasons women stop their breastfeeding journey:

There are numerous reasons why many women decide to stop breastfeeding.

Some mothers face challenges like:

Others may have stopped breastfeeding for personal or health-related reasons:

Many mothers worry about producing enough milk for their breastfed baby. It’s important to remember that each mother’s milk production is different, and seeking expert advice from a lactation consultant can help address concerns and provide guidance on increasing milk supply if needed.

Introducing solid foods and supplemental formula

As babies grow, they will eventually need to transition from solely breast milk or formula to solid foods. The average age for introducing solids is around six months, as advised by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). During this time, it’s common for mothers to gradually decrease breastfeeding and supplement with baby formula.

A registered nurse or lactation specialist can offer support and advice on the best way to introduce solid foods and supplemental formula to ensure your baby receives the necessary nutrients for optimal growth and development.


In conclusion, it’s time to change the way we talk about stopping breastfeeding and create a more supportive, empowering, and nurturing conversation for new moms so that we move away from breastfeeding guilt.

Every decision you make to feed your baby is the right one, and it’s okay to ask for help and follow your instincts.

Remember, you’re doing the best you can, you are not a bad mom for making a different decision and your baby’s well-being is the priority.

As you navigate your breastfeeding journey, trust yourself and make decisions that work best for you and your baby. By embracing your unique experience and supporting one another, we can create a community where every mother feels empowered and confident in her choices.

Final thoughts

This is a topic I feel very passionate about. I breastfed both of my children and remember only too well the anguish of friends who, for whatever reason, didn’t embark on or continue their breastfeeding journey with their babies. They didn’t ‘give up’, they recognized they needed to change their plan which, honestly, I thought was incredibly brave.

We need to change our approach on a societal level – we all know the benefits of breastfeeding but the pressure is overwhelming and very damaging to women who have just been through the life-changing event of childbirth.


Have questions? I have answers.

Yes, it is normal for many mothers to feel guilty when they decide to stop breastfeeding. This guilt often stems from societal expectations, misconceptions about breastfeeding, and the pressure to follow the “breast is best” narrative.

Instead of a belief breasts are better think of “every feed counts”. Feeding is best. You can spend time with the child while they are drinking formula.

No, it is not selfish to decide not to breastfeed anymore. Making decisions about how to feed your baby is a personal choice, and there are many valid reasons a mother might choose to stop breastfeeding.

Prolactin or oxytocin promote calmness. As breastfeeding ends, both prolactin and OTC levels decrease, which can improve your mental and physical health.

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