October 29, 2006


Lynn in Tucson

Alison, thank you for the honesty and courage and love evident in your post. These comments show that there are many, many women out (t)here who would not think to be judgemental of your choices or your circumstances, and you have surrounded yourself with them. The road is not an easy one, but you are truly blessed.


I actually dropped out of my mothers group because of the complete and utter judgement that I was getting from other 'first time mums' who were supposed to be the ones who rallied around and supported you! This was simply because, despite being blessed with babies that knew what they were doing in the breastfeeding stakes (I didn't have a clue), I chose to give my first son a bottle of formula at night, to squeeze an extra hour or so sleep from him. HOW AWFUL, they all said, but at least I was getting more sleep and enjoying him, when all the others were struggling to cope! Strangely enough, with my second son breastfeeding was even easier, but I got grief from my Mother In Law about how selfish breastfeeding is, as she never got to bottle feed her grandchildren! So, I guess what I am trying to say is....You're damned if you do and damned if you don't! You sound like a pretty fabbo mum to me and Pia and Max are ALWAYS going to know that! Enjoy, and drop the guilt, its a wasted emotion (a quote from my Gran!)


I was very moved by your story. It is wonderful that you have shared it. I have four beautiful daughters and had breastfeeding difficulties every time. It can be so hard. Next time you start to feel you are being judged, perhaps you will think of all the wonderful support that has been expressed for you here. All the best for your health and happiness.


I came upon your blog by accident about 5 minutes ago and it broke my heart to read your experience with breastfeeding. Here's a comment I'd like to add that will hopefully give you comfort.

My mother was not able to breastfeed me when I was born. It wasn't her choice, but I was raised on formula. We got off to a rocky start- she was sick a lot when pregnant with me and the stress of having a baby when physically ill made for many nights rocking a crying baby while crying herself. In spite of this, I grew into healthy child and adult. In spite of this, I had and still have a great relationship with my mom. In spite of this, my life turned out happy! It was a few months of mother-daughter hell, but we got through it together. It pales in comparison to what my mom was able to do for me overall.

My mom taught me to love books and creativity, to be curious about life, to enjoy being silly. When times were tough, she taught me the importance of family and hard work. She taught me what unconditional love is. All this came from her heart- not from her milk.

I have no recollection of not breastfeeding. I don't have any psychological trauma from it nor any resentment. What I do remember are things like my mom showing me what parts of a flower have seeds so I could plant them; trips to the library ; trips to the beach with the best picnic food ever. She and my dad always made me feel safe even when times were uncertain. All these experiences shaped who I am today.

I am proof that breastfeeding is but a facet in raising a child. There are SO many other gifts you have to offer your children now, and in the years ahead of you. Have peace with your decision and find joy in your present and your future! If others judge you, let them. It is *their* opinion, not yours and it doesn't diminish the value of your family. Or, as my mom would say, "Tell them to shut up."

Please let go of your guilt. Nothing to feel guilty for when you have made the right decision.

If you get a flat tire in the first mile of a road trip, do you give up? No- you change the tire and get back in that car and drive. Enjoy the scenery and don't forget to stop every now and then to stretch your legs. You have a great, wonderful journey ahead of you.


I hope you don't think me rude but i think that you should do what is best for you and your children and not worry at all what others think. Do what makes you happy.
I hope those nipples are healing.xx


Ugh - I can so acutely feel your pain. I too had breastfeeding issues/anxiety/ppd (not to mention colic) to the point of hospitalization which of course further interfered with the bonding process. I felt inadequate as a mother due to not breastfeeding even though she slept with us and I wore her/carried her for almost every waking moment. I found I could only follow my own heart and had to learn to tune out those that had opposing views. I hope that you can find it in your heart to understand what an incredible mother you are with or without breast milk!


i'm not a mother so i can't imagine what you are feeling. however, i have a friend who had to stop breastfeeding too. i watched her struggle with the decision to go the bottle/formula route, but for the health of her child, she finally had to. i'm glad i was able to support her the day she finally made the decision. and maybe because i'm not a mother, i was able to be objective.

her little girl is now a thriving, amazing little 4 year old.


I had awful problems breastfeeding my first child and felt terrible guilt about stopping. I felt ashamed when everyone around me was breastfeeding and I was bringing out a bottle. But looking back on it now, I know it was the best decision for my relationship with my child. It's not an easy decision to make, but you are doing the best for you and your family - try to hold on to that and let the pain go.

Miss Dot

wow, such honesty, good on you for being so brave, this needs to be said. I will never look at a mum bottle feeding in public again. It's your baby and you will do what is best for the two of you. Best of luck.


Alison, I know it's easy for a childless 42 year old to say..... but you do what you have to do to ensure that you and your baby are comfortable, warm and most of all happy. And if that means bottle feeding so be it. Your babies will grow up into happy confident fabulous citizens of this world not because of how they were fed when they were babies but because their Mum was happy confident and a fabulous person.
It's your body not the breast feeding facists!
Keep on doing what you know is right for you and your babies...
You have a lot of support and love out here.....
Take care...


Thanks for sharing this. Breastfeeding was hardly easy for me, and, yes, other mothers can be awfully smug when it's easy for them. I felt very alone and incapable and broken for awhile.

People will always be judging you as a mother in one way or another. All you can do is try to tune them out and do what's best for you and your family.

And for another cliche: nobody else can make you feel bad about your choices unless you feel bad or ambivalent. Please give yourself a break and congratulate yourself for making the wise choice for YOUR family and YOUR situation. You don't owe anyone an explanation. It just happens to be that one of your private choices is a bit more publicly viewable than most -- that doesn't make it any less private.

I don't care what the breastfeeding advocates say, the best gift you can give your child is a healthy, confident mother.


hello :-) allison.
thankyou for your post.
recently i was feeding baby hana in a tiny nursing room in tokyo.hana was 6 weeks old.a mother came into the room with a baby smaller than hana but 4 months old. in the broken japanese english conversation that we had she told me her son was so small because she has only a small amount of milk.her son was screaming like i have never heard a baby scream before.tears were pouring dowm his little face as she tried to breastfeed him.he was so hungry? after perserverence that went on for a looooong time she produced a bottle of formula milk from her bag and the baby stoped crying and drank faster than you would ever believe.she interrupted his sculling and tried to put him on her breast again and he screaaaamed worse than when he entered the room. this stopping starting went on for some time until the baby had finally managed to get enough milk from the bottle. to stop crying...it was all very distressing.
baby happy mother happy baby happy. i hope that baby is ok.
and i hope your post reaches many women in need.


I've been reading your blog for quite a while, but this is my first comment. Thanks for sharing this story.

My mother wasn't able to nurse me - at 2weeks old, I was hospitalized for dehydration. I don't know much of the story around it - I guess our latch wasn't right and I think I was bottle fed ever since. I'm sure that it still affects my mom - she's always checking to see if I have had enough to drink. In her letters to me at summer camp as a kid, when I'm visiting her and we've had a long day outside, etc (and I'm 35). However, I'm pretty oblivious about it all (and we do have a good relationship).

With my daughter, I was afraid of being the only one who could nourish her. I was afraid of being tied to her in such a way, and I wanted my husband to be able to help with it too. I didn't think I could stand the middle of the night nursing, awake or half asleep.

And pumping? That was like having to feed her twice. So much time spent. I am impressed by mothers who are driven to pursue pumping long term. So, Amelia was pretty much bottle fed from the get-go.

I remember how big everything seemed when LaLa was first born. This little life. This huge responsibility. (It's still big but I guess you get used to it.) From where I sit, you are taking care of yours very well. It take courage to do the right things for your family, especially in the face of well-meaning hardliners.


I can only imagine what pressure you must be going through- but, honestly, don't let others get to you. You only know what's best for your party and what you can and can't do. Enjoy beautiful Pia- and, as long as you're feeding her, everything will be o.k.

Jenny B

Hello Alison

Thank you for your moving and heartfelt posts. I am not a mother yet but look forward to the day I have children. I am a newly graduated doctor and have wanted to be an ObGyn for as long as I can remember. As an observer of both the medical profession and the general public I can understand the pressure you have felt in the decisions made regarding both Max and Pia's birthing and breastfeeding. I understand the great pain of plans and hopes which cannot be fulfilled, for whatever reason, and the grief you must feel.

Remember that not being able to do what is culturally expected does not mean you have "failed". You have shown yourself to be a wonderful caring and couragous mother for telling these stories and for loving your children. I have taken your stories to heart and I hope they will guide me to be a more sensitive and understanding doctor in my future practice.


Don't be so harsh with yourself. It is really and truly okay. Kids go through so much worse and thrive and your kids will do well. Better if you don't blame yourself and dwell on it.
I was able to breasfeed my kids, but with each I had to quit sooner than I wanted. I was a hugely abundant producer (sounds like you are, too) and it was difficult. Plus, I leaked uncontrollably. When I fed out of one side, the other side flowed just as strongly. 2 hours later, baby or not, I was flowing again. After 8 months of living as a recluse (not really, but trying to go back to work!) I gave it up. There are all kinds of problems related to motherhood and as a mother of an almost 9-yr old, believe me, there is so much more pain to come! Try to roll with it and keep your dear baby first and foremost in your mind. I don't always, but I try. Best of everything to you and you are a GOOD mom.


In another time, during an event that was not related to babies or breastfeeding, I too went through a time of harsh judgement by others. I'm no writer by any means, but I did write the following during a moment of deep reflection:

do no judge those whose tears you have not cried, do not judge those whose dreams you have not shared, do not judge those whose life you are not living.

Of course people will judge you, but by judging you they are showing you who they are. You know how hard you have tried, how much you wanted this, and that knowledge will have to give you strenght to make it through the next six months.

I had very sore nipples and also very small nipples, but my little man has turned into quite a breast man. He's 2 1/5 now and still nursing (with no sign to stop). But I consider myself lucky, because our bodies do things that are beyond our control. Please don't let this diminish the feeling of your birth, you have to be proud!

BTW, I did see in a book about a mother who taped a little hose to her breast and feed her baby formula through it. She did this to not miss out on the skin to skin contact with her little one. Maybe just giving the bottle with little to no clothing could also reproduce some of those feelings? I strongly believe that we are blessed to have formula so that we can nourish our babies when our bodies don't play along. And there are so many brands out there that it is easier to make a good choice, as some brands really don't help the babies. I have also read that thinned down yogurth is the closest to human milk.

Have courage and if somebody stares at you look them straight in the eye and know that what you are doing is the right thing for you and your family! You're a great mom... because if you weren't, you wouldn't spend any time thinking about your decision (this is not my line, but something my midwife said to me.



I'm so sorry that you're going through this pain. All I can offer is to add my story to those who have told you theirs in an effort to let you know that you are not alone -- sometimes that is very little comfort, but sometimes it helps immeasurably. Neither of my two children was breastfed (different reasons each time, and, in the end, the reasons aren't really important) and the decision was agonizing each time. Miserable/ill mom + miserable/ill baby = decision. Once we got past the struggle, bonding ensued. They are beautiful, healthy, happy teenagers now and the sorrow I felt then simply could not survive as I watched them grow and thrive. There is always more than one way to get from here to there. Here's to finding your way.


Anyone who would question or judge your mothering is a fool! Do what you want and what is best for you!


Such an honest post. Not having children I sometimes don't 'get' the significance of some of the things that occur, but your posts are a sort of 'consciousness raising' for me. Thank-you.


Anyone who reads your blog or has seen you talk about your kids, knows you are a wonderful mother. Please don't let the negative comments of the ignorant get between you and the joy in your life.

You are brave, and you are smart, and you are the best mother Pia could hope for.

shiso mama

i've been amazed at just how judgemental parents can be about other parents' choices - not just about whether to breastfeed, which is such a fraught issue, but sleeping, how we discipline our own children, even how we dress them seem to be issues subject to debate and criticism. it's a shame that we can't seem to make decisions that are appropriate for our own family and just leave it at that.

you've made a brave and thoughtful decision to do what is best for your family. be proud of yourself.


This is NOBODY"S life but yours, and you can make your decisions. Who cares what others think really? If you are happy, that is all that counts. Enjoy your sweet little ones and YOUR life:)


i've been lurking here for ages and was SO excited when pia was born (it was like waiting for a star to appear!)
please know that you are one of the bravest women i have had the honor of reading.
suffering from pnd is a heartbreaking pain, and motherhood is difficult and nobody stands up to applaud you at the end of the day.
stand up and take a bow with your beautiful children.
and if someone has the nerve and/or bad manners to inquire as to why you are bottle-feeding?
look them in the eye and tell them "i have medical issues."
and check them off your christmas card list.
bravo and hang in there.
we're all here applauding.


I'm so glad you decided earlier rather than later for both your sakes. I struggled along for a month with Harry and ended up with a failure to thrive baby. The guilt was enormous. If I had gotten him straight on the bottle he wouldn't have been so hungry and less crying means happy Mummy.

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