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The psychological impact of breastfeeding grief on new mothers

To The New Mum Quietly Suffering from Breastfeeding Grief - Maternal Mental Health Awareness

Breastfeeding is the best way to feed a baby and is important for both mother and baby’s health and wellbeing. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that babies are exclusively breastfed until six months of age, after which breastfeeding should be complemented with the appropriate introduction of solid foods until two years of age.

However, a recent article, titled 'To The New Mum Quietly Suffering from Breastfeeding Grief', has highlighted the emotional and psychological challenges faced by a mother who has been unable to breastfeed.

“I’ve been there. I feel your anguish and the overwhelming loss you are experiencing. You are starting to resent your body and doubt your abilities as a mother. I remember thinking “how could I ever be a good parent when I can’t even provide the nutrition my baby is supposed to have?” I even started to become depressed about my identity as a woman; biologically, women only have breasts because they are designed to nourish a baby - mine couldn’t.”

Breastfeeding should not be seen as the only option for a mother. The last thing a new mother should be burdened with are feelings of shame or guilt because she is unable to breastfeed; whether that’s because she’s tried and failed to breastfeed, or because of a physical or mental health condition which means that she is unable to breastfeed. Formula feeding should not be seen as ‘shameful’.

Formula milk is scientifically produced and rigorously tested. It is amongst the most strictly regulated of all foodstuffs (Regulation EU No 2016/127; EU Directive 2006/141/EC) and provides the best nutrition, second to breastmilk, for babies, if and when it is needed.

As a mum, the author of the article feels that a more sensitive approach should be taken. “‘Breastfeeding sessions’ should be named ‘infant feeding’ sessions to be much more inclusive and provide an opportunity to educate parents on all methods of feeding.”

It’s important to remember that mothers do an amazing job, whichever way they feed their child.

The full article can be read here.