Why I’m Not Sorry About Breastfeeding Problems

This is linked up with the Breastfeeding Blog Hop hosted by The Slacker Mom!

I had little to no issues beginning (and maintaining) a breastfeeding relationship. Is this why I find it awkward to be sympathetic to other mothers? I wouldn’t want someone feeling sorry for me at all nor do I want anyone’s sympathy. Saying sorry insinuates it was a fault you committed or you had control over the matter.

I usually say, “I’m sorry!” when a mother says she tried breastfeeding but a slew of issues prevented a continued nursing relationship. Is this the best and appropriate response? What if I really wanted to say more than just sympathy and help her? Am I being a snob/bitch/cold for doing so? Is it appropriate to tell her that it’s most likely a breastfeeding myth meant to instill failure and fear in a new mother?

Here are things I really want to say in place of “I’m sorry” about breastfeeding:

“I couldn’t breastfeed.”
I’m sorry Many of breastfeeding issues can be resolved as a tiny percentage cannot truly breastfeed.

“He’s not gaining weight fast enough.”
I’m sorry Birth weight is mostly fluids so his/her weight is absolutely fine.

“I’m so tired.”
I’m sorry It’s absolutely normal for breastfed babies to not sleep through the night.

“He self-weaned at 6 months.”
I’m sorry Worldwide natural weaning can occur between 2 – 7 years of age.

“I had to go back to work and had no milk.”
I’m sorry Many women do not respond to pumps and have to try many different kinds until they find one that works.

“My child was starving and I had to feed formula.”
I’m sorry Did you know that formula is actually 4th on the list of infant feeding methods? Here’s how it breaks down:

1. Breastmilk at the breast
2. Mom’s own expressed breastmilk
3. Screened, pasteurized donor breastmilk.
4. Infant formula.

What else can you say instead of “I’m sorry?” What have you said to a breastfeeding problem you knew could be resolved?


21 thoughts on “Why I’m Not Sorry About Breastfeeding Problems

    • That’s why I blog! 🙂

      I try not to come off as a bitch either but I don’t know how else to spread education! I really, really, really try to not be judgmental when I try to share my experience. It’s hard though…

  1. Apologizing: does not ALWAYS, mean you are wrong & the other person is right.
    It just means, you value your relationship more then your Ego…

    (I got that from my friend’s mom’s email signature. Just in case you were wondering why I suddenly sound like a fortune cookie)

  2. Oh man, I so agree. And you know what else? Pregnant women who say “I’m going to TRY and breastfeed. UM, no. You will or you won’t. Breastfeeding takes dedication, especially in the beginning, a “see what happens” mentality just won’t do.

    • Thanks for that! I totally agree that it takes COMPLETE dedication! I don’t think mothers fail at breastfeeding but give up too easily. That may sound very harsh but it is not easy even for those that it came easy for.

  3. I think there’s a HUGE lack of confidence surrounding breastfeeding. When I was pregnant I was told more than once that I should get some formula “just in case.” Each time I totally refused letting them know that breastfeeding was natural for my body, and how I was sure that it would work out just fine. I was committed, prepared, and ready to ask for help if I needed it. I’d love for women to feel more confident about nursing, and know that it practically always works. There are some great books out there, and a lot of people wanting to help.

    • Exactly! I think that my over-confidence in my body (birth, breastfeeding, etc) has made me know that this is possible if I want it hard enough! I totally agree that women need to believe and listen to their own confidence and bodies because they were MADE FOR THIS.

  4. Thanks for commenting on my blog post. Please don’t think I was referring to you. I wasn’t referring to anybody on the #BFBlogHop. I have NO problem with educating people about the MANY benefits of breastfeeding.

    I was referring to comments on another blog. Other’s were commenting that parents are lazy when they choose formula or that formula should be obtained only by prescription.

    • Hi Sarah Jane,

      I know you weren’t directly referring to me! I also was just generalizing from my breastfeeding rants 😉

      Just like how formula feeders think I’m bragging or better than them just because I am very pro-breastfeeding. There’s a huge difference between bullying and educating! Thanks for checking in and clarifying, very thoughtful of you!

  5. as a BF-ing mom who has had several problems, i LOVE this post. I don’t want an “i’m sorry” when I tell you I’ve had a problem. I want some good advice, for realz. Seriously, I am so grateful when someone *helpfully* and *genuinely* offers to help me, because 9 times out of 10, it helps. I just don’t want some holier-than-thou kinda person judging me, which is something i thankfully have not experienced yet. Actually, I don’t know who these jerk-supermom women are, I haven’t met any, and I’m starting to wonder if they’re a myth…

  6. Best post ever! Love, love, love, and more love. I feel exactly the same way. It’s such a sensitive topic, and there are so many myths, just as you noted! I’m always worried about offending someone, making them upset, seeming judgemental, etc., and in the end, not saying anything (or just saying, “I’m sorry”) doesn’t help get the word out about dispelling all these myths. I’m trying to get more comfortable with it, but it’s hard! I’ve had one success in helping someone, and one failure, but I’m going to keep spreading the word! Or trying…

    We didn’t have any BFing problems either (well, maybe some minor ones – I suppose they could have been roadblocks to others, but didn’t bother me since I was so committed to BFing no matter what!), so I almost feel I haven’t “earned” the right to educate other moms – but, we HAVE been so successful and we’re still going strong, so that has to be worth something. Everything you said in the post and in your follow-up comments is so true. I feel so relieved that someone else thinks the same way I do! 🙂

    Anyway, thank you for having the courage to say what’s been on my mind for a long time!

    • Hi Heather! You don’t know how much it means to me that other moms feel the same way. Im so glad you’re able to help someone! I think that as long as you’ve helped even one, the bad story isn’t so bad! The positive stories pay it forward and maybe our world one day will know and champion for “Breast is Best!” no matter what.

  7. I think it could be good to say “I’m sorry” followed by a helpful suggestion or offer of advice. For most breastfeeding roadblocks for most moms there may be a simple solution – so by all means offer advice nicely. But for some moms there really is a problem that can’t be easily fixed. I was determined to breastfeed my daughter and did NOT want to give her formula. We struggled for several weeks. We worked with a lactation consultant. For over a month each of our 10-12 feedings a day involved nursing for 20-30 minutes, supplementing, and pumping for 15 minutes in an effort to increase my milk supply. We finally realized (with the input of the lactation consultant) that my supply was not going to increase, and that spending the majority of our time feeding the baby was taking away from her development in other areas. Now my daughter is six months old, and we we are still nursing for 10-20 minutes, supplementing (with donated breastmilk when we can get it and with formula when we can’t), and pumping (simultaneously with the supplementing – thank goodness for hands free pumping bras) after nearly all feedings, but we are down to five or six feedings a day. This is not the breastfeeding relationship that I wanted, but I will take what I can get. Next time around I will be much better prepared, and hopefully I will be able to get my supply off to a better start and avoid repeating this process.

    I guess my point is that you should make sure you really understand the situation before offering offhand advice. And make sure your advice is actually advice, and not just criticism. For a mom who really is doing everything she can do to breastfeed, hearing someone say “oh, you just need to do this” can be very painful. I feel like enough of a failure without you calling me one too. I understand that my situation is the exception, not the norm, but I just wanted to remind everyone that not ALL failed breastfeeding attempts are caused by the mom not trying hard enough.

    And my advice to new moms who want to breastfeed: find a lactation consultant BEFORE you give birth. I live in a very rural area, and my local hospital does not have a lactation consultant on staff – just breastfeeding education nurses. When these nurses could not help me, I had a hard time finding a lactation consultant who could even see me. The ones I found at larger hospitals nearby couldn’t help me since I hadn’t delivered there. I finally found an independent consultant, but wish I had found her much earlier. I will always wonder if seeing her sooner would have changed the outcome. Probably not, but I’ll never know for sure.

  8. I have to say, as a mother who had breastfeeding issues, many of which I now believe was due to bad advise, and a MIL who had no trouble breastfeeding and just couldn’t understand why it was so hard for me, that I think its best to keep your mouth shut. Many moms are doing everything they can to help increase their supply and trying to do the best they can for their baby. Unless you are a very good friend or realtive, you know the WHOLE story, you know the mother will want your honest opinion I think its best to keep your mouth firmly shut. In this day and age failue to have a perfect breastfeeding realtionship, no matter the cause, is a source of much sadness for mothers and having people give advise without knowing the whole story doesn’t do anyone any good.

    • Jackie, I believe you missed the point of my post. As a breastfeeding mother who had her share of struggles (which may not be like yours or the next nursing mom), I feel that the things I would have liked to hear are things that I would offer to moms who share the same struggles *I* myself went through. I would not want anyone to feel sorry for me nor just brush it off especially if it means so much to me. I am open-minded and confident in my emotions enough to look past objectiveness in others’ advice and see it for what it is.

      I would never intentionally say anything to further deter or hurt a breastfeeding relationship so I regret that you think I would do that in lieu of keeping my mouth shut.

  9. As someone with no children and no plans to ever have children (hi! would you like to see pictures of my six dogs? Don’t run!) I’m never sure what to say when I want to say “Whatever your decision was about your relationship between yourself and your child I support you both and wish you both health and peace”. But that can be a little awkward.

    • It’s awkward only if that receiving party doesn’t know how to react. It’s so easy to get butt-hurt in all things mothering. Like someone can’t offer tidbits of their knowledge without coming off as a total bitch?

      I hear you, though. There’s no way around it – either you just say it or just leave it be and walk away. Don’t sugarcoat it.

  10. Pingback: 5 Things I’d Tell Myself (and Any New Mom) About Breastfeeding | The Laotian Commotion

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