A new study finds that mothers feel some degree of guilt, no matter whether they breastfeed or formula-feed.
Struggling with new mom guilt? New research would suggest you're not alone. In fact, if the findings from a recent study are any indication, those feelings are pretty universal.
Judgment directed at mothers is a very real thing, and for moms of newborns, more often than not baby-feeding is a major source of this. Breastfeeding mothers are regularly shamed, especially when they nurse in public. Formula-feeding mothers are routinely slammed as well—often by those who believe in the "breast is best" movement. But here's what a new study suggests: Mothers feel guilt regardless of which feeding faction they follow.
The study, which comes from the University of Liverpool, was carried out based on the study of 1,600 mothers of infants up to 26 weeks old. The moms detailed their emotional and practical experiences surrounding baby feeding via a survey, and researchers found something that may surprise you.
Of the formula-feeding moms surveyed, 67 percent expressed some level of guilt. Even more (68 percent) of these moms felt the choice was stigmatized, and 76 percent felt the need to defend their baby-feeding decisions. Breastfeeding mothers had a lower rate of guilt over the feeding choice but struggled with other pieces: Namely, feeling judged while breastfeeding in public and concern over returning to work after maternity leave.
The common link between these experiences? Both groups of mothers felt guilt related to the way they chose to feed their babies.
"Women who breastfeed feel stressed about neglecting the rest of the family and other obligations, whereas women who do not breastfeed feel a sense of guilt about feeding their child something sub-optimal. They also feel shame about having to explain to others why they are not breastfeeding which leads to them feeling like they are failing to achieve the socially constructed status of the 'good mother,'" researcher Sophia Komninou said in a release for the study.
While we totally understand new mom guilt—it can be really, really tough to feel like you're doing everything right—we hope you'll take comfort in this news. Mom guilt is something almost all of us experience at some point, but as long as we're making the choices that best serve our own families....well, nothing else should matter.