Why do women give breastfeeding moms the "I couldn't breastfeed because...." stories

Tanya - posted on 04/20/2010 ( 16 moms have responded )

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Ok, this is something that drives me crazy! Whenever I am out in public and I am nursing, if I happen to be sitting next to another person(usually a woman), and we start talking, I inevitably hear a sob story about why she couldn't, or her daughter couldn't, or her sister in law couldn't , or her second cousin twice removed couldn't breastfeed. Usually the sob story is that she didn't make enough milk, her boobs were too big, not big enough, she was on medication, she had to go back to work, her doctor wouldn't let her(?), bla bla bla. Look, I am nursing my baby because she is hungry or needs nurturing. I am not out to say ha ha to all the non nursing moms. Ok, so you didn't breastfeed. I am not going to call the breastfeeding police on you! Why do women do this? Anybody have a story?

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Virginia - posted on 04/20/2010

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Wow, I think you both have a bit of an issue, yourselves. I am a mom to a beautiful son and I do have many problems with being able to breastfeed - extreme low milk supply and a baby who constantly falls asleep and will not be woken up by anything while at the breast. I do my best to pump 10x a day to give my child the miniscule amount of milk that I am able to produce every day. You both are very lucky that it has been an easier journey for you. Maybe these women who are telling you their "sob stories" are looking for another mother to connect with. Maybe they really feel terrible at not being able to nurse or their daughter is driving herself crazy trying to make breast feeding work or any other host of reasons. Stop judging these other women - breast feeding may be going better for you but there are so many women out there - myself included- who would give anything to have a normal nursing relationship with their child but can not. Women need to stop breaking each other down and actually support each other - it may make a big difference in the day of a very frustrated mom!

Nicole - posted on 04/21/2010

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I am not annoyed when a mom tells me her story. Whether I asked or not. What annoys me is when people spread their misinformation and get mad at you when you try to correct it. i.e. "Formula these days is made just as good as breast milk." or "I didn't breastfeed and my baby is fine/healthy/smarter/etc." And then if you give evidence, you are told to butt out of their conversation or that what you are saying is not true or not believable, etc. That's what annoys me!

If a woman offers up her "story" to me (which I get a lot when people find out that I am a lactation counselor), I welcome it. I hope to try to tell them what may have happened and give them useful information in case they have more children or know someone having children. I, also, use the opportunity to let them know that it is not their fault and I hope to alleviate some of their regret/guilt about not breastfeeding.

We should all be understanding and try to help. That's why I get very annoyed when I see conversations that continue to flood others with misinformation and then get flack when I just try to help and give the information that I know. What is the point of having all of this information, continuing my education, attending conferences and training, etc., if I can't pass it on to others? There are a great deal of things that I know nothing about! But, breastfeeding and breastfeeding problems is something I know quite a bit about and I want to help.

I find it flattering when a mom who sees me breastfeeding, or finds out I am an LC, starts giving me their stories or their problems. That means they look up to me and want my help and understanding. BUT, I don't like to be told that I am not telling the truth or I don't know what I am talking about. If that's the case, then I have wasted many years, and WIC has wasted lots of money, on my training and education in breastfeeding (and formula)!!!

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Yes, I hear similar stories, and I must admit sometimes I'm almost inclined to think, Oh, just an excuse, blah, blah, blah! That's on my less than empathic days!

BUT, I've done a lot of breastfeeding counselling, and, you know, nine times out of ten, those stories are not excuses. They are the situation as seen by a mum who has insufficient information and support. Many women are not familiar with how breastfeeding works. Many doctors, unfortunately, have even less knowledge. Not all areas have easy access to lactation consultants, who would be able to help. And, most insidious of all, there are the formula companies, placing seeds of doubt in many women's minds that they will be able to feed.

A common theme inn the stories of "why I couldn't breastfeed" is that "my supply dropped " or "my body didn't make enough milk" and similar. When you think about it, that's hardly surprising - it's the natural conclusion to come to when you don't know about supply and demand, you don't know the signs of an adequate supply, you've been brought up with an emphasis on measurements and numbers of ounces and the formula companies sare sniffing roundtrying to make more sales.

So let's not sneer at those mums who try to explain why they didn't breastfeed; I think it's time to redouble effots to spread breastfeeding knowledge, not just how good breastmilk is, but important information about techniques and management of breastfeeding.

Anneke - posted on 04/20/2010

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I have issues with people who put down breastfeeding yes, the evidence is there yet they choose not to do it. The rest that have the list of excuses seem to have them on call whenever anyone is breastfeeding near them. No one asked so why tell? why feel the need to mention it? I doubt they want support if they felt they where doing right for their baby at the time so why do they go on about it when no one has asked?

I have heard reasons from people who know all about bresatfeeding that just simply say its not for them or its digusting, I dont get that at all, its how your meant to feed your baby? formula should be a last resort for the mum not a first choice. This is a babies health we are talking about not choosing between coffee and tea.

I get grief to about not giving formula you know from poeple who havnt got a clue. I dont lecture them on breastfeeding I couldnt be bothered they know all about it from tellig me what they didnt do and why.

Sarah - posted on 04/21/2010

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I couldn't agree more Kathy! Very well said! I'm one of those moms who, in the beginning, felt like I had to make excuse after excuse when I finally made the decison to go to formula exclusively. I breastfed, pumped, and supplemented with formula until my son was 2 months old. I mistakenly thought I didn't have enough breastmilk for him to be satisfied and grow...I did NOT understand supply and demand. Heck, I didn't understand much of anything when it came to breastfeeding. But, I tried the best I KNEW how to at that time in my life.

I had LOADS of guilt hanging over me for my decision to go to formula & I became extremely defensive when I would read negative comments about formula or towards women who don't breastfeed. It was a natural reaction...and it stemmed from the guilt I had & even some jealousy issues that I had towards other women who COULD do it. But, I have since then realized that I didn't have a good breastfeeding relationship from the very beginning & looking back I see where things had gone wrong. I no longer feel the need to defend my choices. I just simply say that I was sadly misinformed & I hope to try again with my next baby.

Even though I have moved forward & I'm okay with the fact that I'm feeding my baby formula, I still get that twinge of guilt & shame every now and again. And sometimes I can't help but become defensive all over again when I read posts like this. I guess I'm just human. :) But, because of the struggles I had with breastfeeding & the lack of support and information I had, I find that I have a lot of empathy for other women in my shoes.

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Anneke - posted on 04/21/2010

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Its not your fault if you dont know, even my mum didnt know and formula fed me and the rest of us and my whole family done the same. But its when you do know and choose to snub it (not you but I know lots that do this) I know people that put breastfeeding down because they want to drink on the weekends, selfish reasons. I would have thought babies health came first before a social life but it dosnt. One of my friends just looked at me when I was feeding my son and said "yuk I dont know how you could do that its just not me I like my freedom" then why have kids if you like your freedom? because her mum looks after them while she goes out. Now that annoys me she wouldnt consider even tryingt it. Loads where not helped to, some thought they couldnt breastfeed, I even seen some really bad advice on tv this mroning for breastfeeding and no wonder so many give up early as even this woman was wrong! (ireland fm if anyone seen that on kellys mum site) , I didnt know anything either and was bought formula. I know in some places there a lot more help but its shocking that most dont have help and its all formula shoved at you. Womans image of breasts also changed to, they became sexual and its hard for some to grasp in their heads these are for feeding and just dont do it or know how to. I do feel sorry for anyone that cant or didnt get enough help but not selfish poeple who put themselves and social lives before having healthier children.

Emily - posted on 04/20/2010

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Hey Tanya, I didn't think you were trying to make anyone feel bad. This is just the only reason i can think of as to why women want to tell you about their problems. I guess seeing you feeding makes them really see what they've missed out on and so they feel like they can open up to you a little.
I understand what you mean though, some women do seem like they have flimsy excuses and some may be a little selfish.
Deciding not to breastfeed is a tough decision and it truly broke my heart to think I wasn't giving my babies the very best start. I'm so glad I did eventually get the help we needed though because breastfeeding is one of the most enjoyable things I've ever done!
Take care and have fun :o)

Tara - posted on 04/20/2010

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Im guessing this is a vent for ridiculous stories, not personal attacks...
we were supposed to post our stories..

Tanya - posted on 04/20/2010

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In reply to Emily, I guess I never looked at it from that point of view. I am sorry you felt like a failure with your first too. Believe me, I would never make anyone feel bad for asking for help. I really wouldn't. I just get annoyed when it really doesn't seem like the person made much of an effort or makes a flimsy excuse. And really, it is everyone's choice of course, but I just don't get why everyone who bottlefeeds finds it necessary to give me their life story about not breastfeeding. If someone really wants advice, great, but otherwise, it's really ok that you bottlefed your child. I am not going to get all over them for it.

Emily - posted on 04/20/2010

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I agree with you totally Virginia.
I didn't breastfeed my first two children but I breastfed my third and am now breastfeeding my fourth.
I really did feel like a failure for not breastfeeding my first two and I still feel sad about it.
These women probably do feel like they want to justify themselves to you and I'm sure they really look up to you and some are maybe even a bit jealous!
I'm thinking that many women don't end up breastfeeding because they haven't had enough support and education, some wouldn't know where to go for help and advice.
Making them feel bad for talking about it probably isn't going to help them find the confidence to ask for help with any babies they may have in the future....?

Tara - posted on 04/20/2010

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I dont really understand it either, women have been breastfeeding since the beginning of time..if these problems were so bad now, wouldnt the human race have had some trouble then?
i too have had a c section and nurse just fine
and i heard its rare to have low milk supply, that mothers just think that because their babies like to be at the breast 24/7, but wouldnt that keep up their milk supply?
and i dont have sagging boobs LOL thats ridiculous
i asked a friend if she breastfed her kids and she looked at me and said EW! LOL her kids are morbidly obese as well

Tanya - posted on 04/20/2010

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In response to Virginia, actually I have had a very difficult time with breastfeeding, especially with my older two. I had a hard time with my supply and had to use a supplementer. My middle daughter lost so much weight the doctor threatened to put her in the hospital. So yes, I understand that women have a hard time. I am not saying that they don't. I personally just do not want to hear all the excuses. Ok, maybe some of them want some advice. Maybe they will try again next baby. Fine, that's fine. But 9 times out of 10 it really is a flimsy excuse. For instance, one woman told me she couldn't breastfeed because it would make her breasts sag! ???? Now that's just silly. Many women who "try" to breastfeed give up without trying very hard. Like I said, I just don't want everyone in the world telling me why they couldn't or why so and so couldn't. I am not supermom, I just want to give my daughter what is best and I know other moms do to. That's all.

Tanya - posted on 04/20/2010

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exactly! So I guess all of us breastfeeding moms have just the perfect size breasts hey! I had a c-section with my first child and we managed just fine. And it's not like we all run around pointing our fingers at people. I think formula moms have to justify themselves or something.

Anneke - posted on 04/20/2010

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I see it all the time on forums that,if i say I breastfeed I get a story back on how someone couldnt breastfeed and to be honest I dont care thats their choice and I dont understand why they are justifying it to me like I am some judge, then you see the formula mum claiming breastfeeding mums look down on them just for we... breastsfeeding. I got some bollocking off a formula mumon my facebook just for posting breastfeeding info and a nasty story on how she wouldnt and how breastmilk was crap. Then i got stories how someone boobs where to big, how they had a c section , how the baby wouldnt latch ,

funny that big boobs cant breastfed and neither can small boobs apparently!

also c sections do not stop breastfeeding I had one and when the baby is out your body knows it.

the not enough milk excuse is not knowing what colotrum is.

not latching to breast, so your baby can latch to a piece of latext ???

I only know all this because i have been t9old it all over and over again and i never asked for it anyway. I am sick of having to listen to sob stories and there are so many of them when most are just not supported the rest are just ignorant. Also the guilt treads are peeing me off, sick of seeing them to. No one is making anyone feel guilty its obvious that its the mum who feels guilty knowing what the benefits of breastfeeding where and not choosing it.

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