Mommy Guilt – The Breast Feeding Debate

Mommy guilt is something that all mother’s experience in varying degree’s. It is something that I’ve had grapple with time and again over the last two and a half years of motherhood. A lot of my own guilt comes from my own issues, wanting to be the best mother to Ava and to give Ava the very best of what I have to offer. I also have guilt surrounding how I battled with Post Placement Depression at a time when Ava probably needed me the most. I battle with issues of guilt knowing that our second baby, BabyVW, is going to get a much better, more experienced Mommy than the one Ava got. Just thinking about the mistakes I made and the things I will do differently the second time around, makes me want to jump into the car, race home to my precious child, hold her tight in my arms and tell her how much I love her and how sorry I am that I didn’t do better or couldn’t be better for her.

One of biggest guilt issues I struggle with is being a non-biological mother in a world overwhelmingly filled with bio-mom’s and more specifically, the norms that these mom’s take fore-granted and then try to push onto me & other mom’s like me.  I cannot tell you how it hurts to read a “breast is best” argument, especially when it is levelled at me, how I’m overcome with guilt because if breast is best, then once again, I failed my child because I did not give her the best. I’m so sick and tired of the judgemental mommy types who believe that their way of parenting is the only way to parent and they judge other mom’s, who parent differently to them and believe me, there are plenty of breast feeding/mommy Nazi’s out there.

The irony is, the mom’s who are usually making the statements that hurt me and feed into my guilt are usually the ones who have no concept of what it’s like to parent a child that is not biologically one’s own. They have no clue the challenges an adoptive mother faces and when these challenges are explained to them, they refuse to acknowledge that circumstances surrounding parenting a non-biological child are different.

And I know I’m not the only adoptive/non-biological other who feels this way. One of the most overwhelmingly asked questions I receive on Trinity Heart is: How can I breast feed my adopted child? And of course, this comes primarily from the fact that any mother, biological or otherwise wants to do the best for her child and unless you’ve been walking around with your ears plugged, you will know that breast feeding is best and that doing anything less than breast feeding is not doing the best for one’s child.

But what if breast isn’t always best???

This week I embarked on a personal investigation of my own to find out how adoptive mom’s can most effectively feed and bond with their babies and it’s quite clear, especially with the child act as it is currently in South Africa with placement only happening after the final consent and when the baby is older than 2 months old, that in the case of adoptive mom’s, parenting older babies, potentially coping wit Post Placement Depression and taking into account the strong possibility that the baby will have post placement stress, breast is NOT best.

Read here about what is involved in breast feeding an adoptive baby. Jenny, the editor from Your Baby mag, also kindly wrote a guest post for Trinity Heart titled – When Breast Is Not Best and she gives some great tips on bonding with an adoptive baby through feeding.

Reading this articles made me realize that while I may have made numerous mistakes with Ava as a new mother, choosing not to breast feed her was most definitely not one of them!


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  • Reply Melinda

    Dont be too hard on yourself. All first time Moms mess up….second time Moms mess up too but just dont stress as much about it….smile

    July 20, 2012 at 12:03 pm
  • Reply Sandy

    Hi Sharon, I do think that women in general are very judgmental. I did breastfeed my son and I am his biological mother, but to me it just added to all the birth stress and post natal depression. In fact I was so tired and worn out that I am seriously considering to not breast feed my second child. If it means that I will be a better mother and more relaxed I would really consider it. You do not need to feel guilty, you are an inspiration to so many women. The reason why most moms judge is only because it makes them feel better about themselves(for only a little while) and it makes their own insecurities fade for a second or two. A mother’s value can ONLY be determined by one thing and that is the love that she has in her heart for her child.

    July 20, 2012 at 2:16 pm
  • Reply Laura

    I didn’t enjoy breastfeeding at all!! I did it for a very short while and never felt it bonded me to my kids – in fact with Cameron it did the opposite.

    Also the whole health debate – is just that – a debate with good arguments for both sides. None of my kids have been so sick they have need hospital BUT a mom I know who breastfed all 4 of hers until they were walking and talking has had 2/4 of them in hospital and sick often.

    I loathe this debate – it’s pointless!

    July 20, 2012 at 2:18 pm
  • Reply Adele


    Breast is not always the best and bugger those who cannot realise this.

    That is all I want to say.

    July 20, 2012 at 3:41 pm
  • Reply ELna

    I never breastfed my child. I really don’t think she is going to grow up and resent me for this. There are so many more important things in this world than breastfeeding/or the lack of. You are a wonderful mom to your child. You know it and Ava definately knows it.
    I love Adele’s comment!!

    July 23, 2012 at 9:21 am
  • Reply Julia

    I loved breastfeeding Child1, I hated breastfeeding Child2. I don’t think that it was best for him and he was sick ALL THE TIME which included numerous hospitalisations. I hate when women are so judgemental and I wish that they can just respect one anothers choices.

    I tried to comment on the one link for Trinity Heart – an article written by my friend Tracy who has also adopted. I think she may have commented on your blog before:

    July 25, 2012 at 8:00 am
  • Reply Julia

    Oops sorry. I see it has posted.

    July 25, 2012 at 8:01 am
  • Reply TJ

    I think it’s totally insensitive and inconsiderate of those women to judge you (and others like you) on something such as Breastfeeding. While it may be possible – it may not be best! I wish they would broaden their perspective a little and not be so Nazi about it!
    I totally advocate Breastfeeding – where possible and if it is one’s choice! I stand by my friend who felt ‘awkward’ breastfeeding and therefore didn’t! But I also stand by the millions of others who do choose to breastfeed and enjoy it!

    Those women really should think before they spew!

    July 25, 2012 at 8:25 pm
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