Breastfeeding seminars

Please don’t ask me if I’m breastfeeding

For some reason, “Are you breastfeeding?” seems to be one of the first questions people ask when they find out you recently gave birth. This question always comes after asking the baby’s gender and name, and before asking if your newborn still sleeps through the night.

Personally, I find asking someone if they are breastfeeding slightly invasive.

I breastfed my first son, Henry, for three weeks before I was diagnosed with postpartum depression, then stopped breastfeeding because of the medication I was given. I felt this overwhelming and intense guilt for not providing my baby with everything he needed – I think I was on the verge of a legitimate depression.

Why was my body holding me back from being the nursing mom I’ve read about in books and seen on pamphlets in the doctor’s office? Did I do something wrong? Why wasn’t this the experience I expected?

Whenever someone asked me if I was breastfeeding, from a colleague to a random stranger, I became extremely anxious. I spouted all the reasons why I was no longer breastfeeding. It was as if I needed to prove to them that I was still a good mother. Because I was ashamed.

And you know what? None of them were the real reason I stopped breastfeeding. I was also ashamed that I had been diagnosed with postpartum depression.

No woman should ever be ashamed of her child-nurturing choices, for whatever reason. Whether you are breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, you are a good mom.

I decided not to breastfeed my second son, Simon, because of my first experience of postpartum depression. I wanted to continue taking my meds after I had it, so I knew I would feel mentally and emotionally well enough to take care of a new baby and toddler.

I knew to be the happy loving mom my baby needed, I had to choose to bottle-feed rather than breast-feed.

Now, when people ask me if I breastfeed, I just say no. And that’s all. If they keep pushing, I tell them why. Because I’m not ashamed anymore.

Not being able to breastfeed is something that affects many women. And some women don’t want to breastfeed for personal reasons. And that’s good too.

Maybe the baby won’t latch on no matter how many times you try.

Maybe you’re not producing enough milk and you’re worried your baby won’t eat enough.

Maybe you had to go back to work shortly after having your baby and your supply ran out.

Maybe you’re extremely anxious because a co-worker caught you pumping in your government-mandated pump room at work and you can’t bring yourself to pump there anymore.

Perhaps you have a medical condition that makes breastfeeding difficult or impossible.

Maybe you’ve been sexually assaulted at some point in your life and can’t bring yourself to breastfeed your baby.

Maybe you just don’t want to breastfeed your child and you know that formula also provides nutrition a baby needs.

Maybe you’re taking a drug, like me, that doesn’t allow you to breastfeed.

Maybe your lovely baby was in the NICU and you couldn’t breastfeed her.

Whatever happens, mom, never feeling guilty about the way you feed your child. Don’t let people make you feel less of a mother because you’re not breastfeeding — not strangers, not family members, and certainly not yourself.

baby bottle, baby food, formula, trials, breastfeeding, breastfeeding