Unable to Breastfeed?? Don’t feel Guilty!

I had to ponder a lot before writing this post. Infact, this post has been on my mind ever since my baby was about a month old. It’s still hard for me to say it out aloud but let me go ahead and get it out of my system: I hardly breastfed!

breast feeding concerns

Yes…now that it’s out in the open I’m hoping ill get it out of my head soon too. Ever since i understood the nuances of pregnancy and babies, I knew how important breast feeding is and knew with an utmost certainty that this was what I was going to do for sure when I had a baby…I grew up in a society where breast feeding wasn’t necessary..women around chose formula feeding to maintain their figures or even because it was more convenient to bottle feed..let me be clear here that I don’t judge them negatively. It’s an intensely personal decision and I would be doing a post about this later too but back to the original topic..

I never had a doubt in my mind that I would breast feed but it came as a horrific blow to me when I just couldn’t manage to. I have almost forgotten the pain I underwent during my preg when I was under risk of premature delivery..I’ve even almost forgotten the pain of the actual delivery..but the trauma of not being able to breastfeed is something I remember with utmost clarity.

Most women don’t like discussing this. I myself admit to having lied to a couple of acquaintances (ok..many) simply because I felt ashamed of not being able to breastfeed. But ultimately I realised this is nothing to be ashamed about. Many women go through this and the trauma of not being able to breastfeed I feel, stems from the fact that no one discusses it openly which leads us to believe that it’s a rarity.

My mom wasnt able to breastfeed me (she did lactate but I refused to feed) but she never worried about it like i did. After a lot of analysing I’ve managed to list down the reasons why I felt this way and have listed them below..I’m sure most women feel similarly and i just wanted to get it out in the open.

1. How I felt then- Fear of not being able to bond: I can still remember the day my baby was born and when she got up in about 3hrs and the lactation expert came in to show me how to feed. I remember how happy I was that FINALLY I would get to do what I thought would bond my child to me forever. However I wasn’t able to feed well. I was told it would happen in about a weeks time but I wasn’t able to feed my child more than a single time a day for the 1month I lactated. I remember thinking my child would hate me for this (the shrieking after not being able to get any milk at my breast made me feel that way) and this scarred me badly.

How I feel now: I know now that a child will bond with their parent no matter what. All claims of holding ur child to your bosom right at birth or breast feeding being the only things that bind you child to you is all hogwash! A child understands and comprehends only 1 thing and that is LOVE. You give you child love and rest assured your child will bond with you for life..

breast feeding concerns

2. How I felt then- Feeling inadequate for the 1st time in my life: I’m not bragging but I’ve always striven to excel at everything in life..studies or activities I took up, I always pushed myself and did well. But I simply couldn’t understand why I couldn’t feed my child despite there being no health probs.

I felt like a failure..and every single day saw me slipping into depression. I’d break out crying every time it was feed time because I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it.

How I feel now: This was a dark time for me truly but it doesn’t last. I had an amazing support system… A would coach me daily and my husband on more than 1 occasion would just take me in his arms and tell me he didn’t care about how our baby was fed as long as her tummy was full and both of us were happy. Everything else would iron itself out..I can’t tell you how much this helped..even now when things get too overwhelming I keep repeating that sentence to myself and it does make things better, believe me.

3. How I felt then- Fear Β that my baby would have a truckload of deficiencies because of me: Pregnancy reading had me convinced that my already premature baby would have a ton of health issues because of me. Infact when my daughter was taken to NICUa night coz her jaundice level was a bit high, I cried like crazy and blamed that on my inability to feed her!

How I feel now: Now I haven’t done any research on this but my gynac once sat me down at the clinic and explained to me how the vitamins and nutrition in mothers milk all depends on the food intake and even then there’s no assurance that the child gets it all due to all the adulteration and also how the body absorbs the nutrients. On the other hand, formula has it all. So rest assured, even on formula a baby will be just as healthy as a breastfed child, maybe even more so!

breast feeding concerns

4.How I felt then- Β The false certainty that my baby was suffering all because of me: My daughter was a month premature and due to her low weight and my issues with feeding, was put on formula feed meant for premies and this was quite heavy. As a result she suffered from constipation from her 2nd week itself. The memory of that tiny, scrawny body gripping my arm and screaming in pain as she tried to potty still sends shivers through my body. I cried along with her every single time she tried to potty and cursed myself thinking she wouldn’t be in such pain had I been able to breastfeed her.

How I feel now: When I told my doc about this particular fear of mine she laughed and told me not to worry and just switched to a lighter formula. Farex tends to be on the heavier side and once I switched to NAN which is lighter and most similar to breast milk, there was no problem at all! So contrary to my thinking, this had nothing to do with my breast feeding at all!

5. How I felt then- Societal pressure: Relatives and other people can be awful during this period. Everyone who met me kept on telling me to breast feed and my statement that I couldn’t was met with horrified looks followed by pitiful looks or even some disgusted looks followed by statements like, ‘these days girls only care about their figures, not their children’ and ‘no wonder Pravi is colicky’ or even statements like, ‘you are not trying na?’..

Such statements just made me feel guiltier and I ended up thinking that maybe somewhere inside I didn’t want to breastfeed and this was translating itself through my body.

How I feel now: I’ve learnt to ignore these comments and give biting retorts to such people. All credit goes to A who literally whatsapped me what to say to which comments (since I can’t think clearly when I get such comments) πŸ™‚

6. How I felt then- Feeling my body failed me even after the extensive medication: I took a ton of medication, both Ayurvedic and allopathy. From Shatavari to methi seeds which I hate, to pills that made me faint, nothing helped and finally even the doctors put their hands up and told me not to obsess about it and just to let go. After a colleague told me how breast pumps helped her increase milk flow, i went ahead and tried that too but even that didn’t help beyond a limitl. I couldn’t feed more than a max of twice a day (on a good day) and even then I had to give her top feed to fill her tiny tummy.

How I feel now: I admit to still feeling perplexed about this but I’ve made peace with the fact that I couldn’t breastfeed. I don’t obsess over it at all. It happens to some women and isn’t something to feel ashamed about. We live in times where we have good formula brands which ensure that our babies will get the best even if such issues come up.

breast feeding concerns

All in all I feel very comfy now and even though I do feel a pang of regret when I think about how I couldn’t feed my baby, I don’t feel inadequate because of this. Everytime I feel such thoughts coming into my mind I just look at my healthy, smiling and hyperactive baby girl and these negative thought are wiped clean from my head!

Finally, Mothers-to-be, don’t overhype breast feeding in your head pls since it would just pressurize you further and such worries are said to cause breast feeding probs too. To New Mommies, if such issues are plaguing you, just let go..your baby will be just as healthy as breastfeed kids..and to Experienced Mommies who have gone through this, pls be open about it. Don’t wait for a new mother to come crying to you; I feel every woman should feel assured before they deliver so that such inane pressures don’t fester…

I do hope this post helps address a topid which most of here in India consider to be a taboo..Remember either breastmilk or formula will fill your babies tummy, but its your love and smiles which will fill their hearts and keep them happy..

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Sources: 1,2,3,4


  1. Eerytime when you use to tell me how you desperately want to feed your baby it broke my heart Zee..Infact whenever i use to write some breastfeeding post , i hesitated a bit thinking you will read it.

    I am so proud that you have come out in open about it and i must tell you there are thousands of woman who aren’t able to breastfeed but their kids are fantastic..My MIL never breastfeed ed but i think her son is fab πŸ˜‰

    • T be honest babes every time I read the breast feed post it did pinch but that was then…now thankfully m in a much better place and I don’t obsess about it…such stuff happens…I was formula fed…so was my hubby..n I don’t think there’s anythin wrong with either of us..Infact vr waaaaay more healthy than we shud be πŸ˜› bas that was a vulnerable time for me when any issue wud have festered in my head..this was mine… πŸ˜‰

  2. Dear Zara…I just want to give you a big hug and say same pinch !!!.. I lactated well but due to improper knowledge of breastfeeding my BM dried up …and I faced so many social brickbats including plain cruel ones like , “oh she is so lazy she dosen’t even try ” to ” oh her baby spits up so much because of being fed formula “. I even joined a breastfeeding support group thinking they would help me but left it when i realised they were making fun of women who use formula …now i have taken all these things in my stride since I have seen lots of kids who where brought up on bm but have a very shaky immune system …. its like ” jo hoga dekha jayega “

    • Thanx dear! A big hug to u as’s a hard time to go thru I kno..and stupid outsiders still criticise no matter that they may hav gone thru d same probs..

  3. Women are back with BF wholeheartedly now otherwise i remember in 90s giving formula milk was quite a trend…Ofcourse BF is the healthiest thing and it makes life of a mom so simple..Moment baby starts crying just give the baby BM and you are done. Formula fed babies are difficult to be managed…they are more colic and suffer from constipation or gastric problem regularly till the time they start having solids…So why will a woman chose the difficult path ? No body do it out of choice unless its really impossible I can vouch for all the moms around me don’t know about others.

    • Very true A…our parents wala gen dint over think Breast sm reason breast feeding is a fad now with all d research pointing to it being healthiest fr babies…just wish it weren’t so hyped that the absence f it made one feel so inadequate..

  4. nidhi tiwary says:

    Hey zee…nice post again. ..even m facing d sam issue. .feeling guilty at times too. But after reading ur post m feeling more confident for my baby. ..thanks a ton dear

  5. nidhi tiwary says:

    Hope so..coz dr. Lad prescribed me domstal he suggested to give it a try till 4 months. So still trying if can.

  6. Oh how people judge women, and mothers in particular. FF or BF – u will be judged, come what may. Ignoring is the best thing to do because a mom does only the best, always πŸ™‚

  7. I was judged all the time even when I breastfeeded my baby for almost 10 months..will tell u sometime..but it didn’t affect me some how..i think i am a thick skinned person now πŸ˜›

  8. Thats a wonderful post zara…
    before my delivery i read lots of stories of moms who were not able to breast feed but 100% of their babies are fine…
    what i believe is breast-milk and formula milk are same in chemical constituents, the only difference is b’milk contains mother’s antibodies which formula doesn’t have…but in due course of time baby himself develops his own immune system so new mommies shouldn’t fear at all…

    • Thanx pre..I totally agree with u..I see no diff in BF n FF babies..but I guess it’s that time when vr most vulnerable that such things hurt more na..

  9. Love the way u have done the pointers”then-now”. I can feel your pain in your words. Mine was totally different story. I BF my baby for the whole of first year!! Can u believe it?? No formula, no outside milk not even cerelac( or any milk pwd added solids). She had lactose intolerance . So the min she had any form of milk other than BM , she will puke puke and puke πŸ™ it was way easier to feed than to clean her Puke:) first 3 months was difficult, but she set a routine for herself and fed every two hrs. On starting solids, after the 5th month feeding frequency was more only in the nights. As months went by I actually started enjoying feeding her. BF became a necessity for me rather than an option!! I had no other go in my case.

    • Ah, a friend of mine has d same issue but was able to giv her baby soy milk without any puking effects..did u try that? I’ve heart works well for lactose intolerant babies..

  10. I did try zara, nothing helped:( then I did not want to trouble the baby trying out different stuffs on her, since I had adequet milk and the time, I chose to do BF.

  11. One major problem with BF is the weaning out process. When you are still BF and the child turns one, it becomes very difficult . They get attached to feeding , as the sucking process is a major aid to sleep.

  12. Zara, I had c-section and my link wasn’t enough for my daughter…I knew how it feels..first there is a fight within which is the hardest part and then relatives and extended families..there were instances which invloved my mom also…she had to hear -u didn’t feed your daughter well thats why she lacks milk…she wept that night…she thought i don’t know..then I started taking fenugreek seeds….and my lactation improved. after 2 months I had to return to my in laws house and till six months I didn’t give her formula…now she is 2 years and doctors said its advisable to stop BF now..but she won’t quit….

  13. Nice Post Zara, you just let your heart out. I breastfed my girl for almost 2.4 months. its such a pain to breastfed for such a long time – with body pains, sleepless hours!! Weaning was a problem but later she understood. Outsiders will always comment even if it goes good or it turns bad. Boneless tongue!! I have just learnt to ignore it.

    • That’s awesome Dhanu.. I’ve come t realise that such people r just way too insecure n tk that out on us any way they can..childbirth is trauma enough without having people pass such comments!

  14. I managed to BF my son till he turned 1.5 years old, though people around me cruelly joked that my BM is probably the lowest fat milk ever available since I lost all the gained weight too quickly (I had other stresses, BF was not the reason) and my son never looked chubby enough for them. So whether you BF or not, snide remarks are something that aren’t going to stop. My MIL stopped feeding my husband since he turned 6 months because of 2 reasons, she had a cyst for which she had to get operated and she was pregnant with my brother-in-law. πŸ™‚ She didn’t even know what is formula milk, she fed him diluted cow’s milk and my husband has been very healthy (touch wood!) all his life. So chill, you are doing a great job!

    • I so agree wid u…both my hubs n myself r FF n we hav had no probs ever..

      I think ppl just Wana pick on others for some mean streak they hav..I’ve faced the same chubby wala comments…for my parents my kid is too thin n for in laws too chubby..u just can’t win with them!

    • 1.5yrs..thas remarkable somehow i never like BF ..i did it only for her health and stretched it till 10-11 months..i sometime BF her now when she gets too crazy..:D

  15. Usha Maheshwari says:

    Hi Zara,

    As i am even a new mom , just a month n half old baby girl in my arms. I am undergoing the same problem of BF as you have , every other day I feel guilty of not able to feed my baby. I am really concerned of her Immunity . In spite of talking to my friends who have undergone the same problem of not able to lactate and have their grown up kids so healthy, I was unable to accept the fact that even I am undergoing the same . Thanks to the article you have posted, myths and facts. It gave me so much of confidence and positive mindset about the entire process of BF. Before delivery , i never even had an idea that even such issues would crop up since I had a myth that no matter what , I would be breastfeeding my baby as much she needs. Thanks again Zara.

    • Usha…Your baby will grow up to be a very healthy baby ..don’t worry about that..Motherhood makes you go through lot of guilt.I breastfeeded my daughter for 9-10 months and when I see my freinds breast feeding their one and half old i feel guilty of not doing that .There is just no end of this road.

  16. Hi,i am not even breastfeed ma baby coz of insufficient. Production of milk….he is now 3 mnths old…i creid everday coz iam nt able to feed him…plz.temme wat shud i give him for proper nourishment…plz reply

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