Media Monday – The Breastfeeding Police Are Out To Get You! Breastfeeding & Guilt

The Australian recently published an article advising that breastfeeding can help reduce the risk of SIDS.

Unfortunately, it has been met with the anti-breastfeeder brigade that implies that breastfeeding mothers are on a mission to make non-breastfeeding mothers feel guilty. These women who accuse advocates of being the breastfeeding police feel that communicating that breastfeeding helps reduce the risk of SIDS is wrong. Apparently, it’s the same as saying ‘Your baby will die of SIDS if you don’t breastfeed’. It’s utter nonsense.

I personally know families who have lost a baby/child to SIDS. Were they breastfeeding? I don’t know. It’s completely irrelevant. When a family loses a child there is no room for judgement or assumptions. I don’t know anyone who would honestly think that it was appropriate to question whether a mother who lost a child was breastfeeding.

Discussing prevention, however, is a different story.

When we are discussing prevention we are talking about mothers or mothers-to-be who are yet to make a decision about whether or not they will breastfeed. They need ALL the information to make an informed decision. The facts may be a little confronting but they are what they are: facts.

Parents need to know that there are risks to not breastfeeding. I would much rather know this before I made a decision to formula feed, allow my milk to dry up and then find out that I hadn’t been told the full story because no-one wanted to offend me.  Can you see how bizarre this is? Oh, sorry. We didn’t want to tell you that breastfeeding offers some protection against SIDS because we were worried if you chose to formula feed that you might feel bad.

It can be helpful to read up on the benefits of breastfeeding.

Guilt? That’s your problem!

Is avoiding all the facts and information valid simply because it ‘might’ make someone feel guilty?

No,  because guilt is personal.  We are responsible for our own choices and we are also responsible for how we feel when we make those choices. If I feel guilty because you breastfeed and I don’t – that’s not your fault. Similiarly, if you feel guilty for not breastfeeding then that’s not my fault!  You don’t tell me how to feel. I make my own choices and I own any guilt I may feel whether it’s justified or not.

Is it true that there’s a lot of guilt associated with motherhood these days? Of course. But no one can actually force us to feel guilty. We need to own our guilt.

But, what if you can’t breastfeed?

Then you can’t. Simple.

I know many mothers who couldn’t breastfeed and I don’t think they should feel guilty. I also think there needs to be a sensitivity when we chat about these things in our daily lives. But the anti-breastfeeder brigade often go too far even suggesting that there should be no public health information about the benefits of breastfeeding because all it does is marginalise formula feeders.

They fail to realise that the fact breastfeeding is good for babies isn’t information designed to encourage guilt. It’s just how it is. Parents need access to all the information.

Breastfed babies are healthier.

They just are.

This isn’t about making anyone feel guilty – this is about supplying parents with the correct information so that they can make an informed decision.

Breastfeeding is good for babies. Breastfed babies are healthier. Breastfeeding may reduce the risk of SIDS.

Our feelings should be irrelevant when it comes down to scientific fact.

So, please stop accusing me of judging you – I just want to feed my baby!


What do you think? Is guilt reason enough to avoid talking about the benefits of breastfeeding?


I’m celebrating World Breastfeeding Week with Natural Parents Network!

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