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How The Pressure To Exclusively Breastfeed Can Really Hurt New Mothers

New mothers are cracking under the pressures to exclusively breastfeed their babies. While it is true that “breast is best,” many moms who can’t consistently provide milk are ashamed and feel like they’ve failed their children. If this line of thinking is left alone, new moms can spiral into depression.

All moms want what’s best for their babies. Medical research has shown over and over again that breast milk is best for babies, but it’s important to note that not all moms can readily provide it. Some may have difficulties lactating enough, and others may not have the energy or knowledge to breastfeed properly. Breastfeeding is a whole process in of itself, and there aren’t enough people who reveal the truth of its difficulties. Just getting the baby to latch on, for example, is a challenge for new moms.

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The Huffington Post interviewed a couple of new moms, and they revealed their struggles with breastfeeding. Amanda Renner was prepared to breastfeed exclusively. She had all the supplies, gave birth at a hospital that promoted breastfeeding, and saw a lactation consultant. One night, however, she couldn’t get the baby to latch on, so she paged a nurse to ask if they can give her daughter a bit of formula just to console her. She has yet to master breastfeeding properly, so she figured she can just get something in her baby’s stomach while she figured it out.

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Renner was met with medical professionals who basically shamed her. It was repeated over and over to her and her husband that breastmilk is a “medical necessity” for her baby, especially since she had jaundice. Renner isn’t the only mom who goes through these experiences. Sometimes, things happen, and a mom has to turn to baby formula. Despite knowing that they’re doing their best, they still feel ashamed and feel as if they’ve failed their child.

A lot of research is currently being done to see if there is a clear link between breastfeeding challenges and postpartum depression. In theory, moms are already quite vulnerable after giving birth—both physically and mentally. Therefore, any intense external pressures could cause them to spiral into depression. It’s important to remember that all moms are trying their best, and if they can’t provide everything to their child, they already feel guilty themselves. Adding onto that internal struggle will only damage their mental health.

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