It's OK If You Can't Breastfeed

If all else fails, we give you permission to quit nursing.


Suzanne Barston, the author of Bottled Up: How The Way We Feed Babies Had Come To Define Motherhood, and Why It Shouldn't , tried everything she could to give her newborn breastmilk.

Because he was tongue-tied and couldn't latch properly, she started expressing milk, which wasn't ideal. "I'd be on the pump every hour and a half," she remembers.

After six weeks, Barston learned that her son was allergic to her milk. She switched to hypoallergenic formula—and her son was instantly happier. "I spent so much time worrying and being frustrated—when I could have been enjoying my child instead," says Barston.

If, like Barston, you've tried everything, but you're miserable and tired, go ahead and quit, say experts—and don't feel guilty.

"Some women just don't have the support to pull through the hump," says Deedee Franke, R.N., I.B.C.L.C., a lactation consultant at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. And you need the support of your family, your health care providers (including a lactation consultant), your babysitters and your work place to be successful. Otherwise, exclusive breastfeeding (or any at all) is going to be one tough road.

Another reason women quit is depression. In fact, one study found that women who disliked breastfeeding were 42 percent more likely to experience postpartum depression than women who enjoyed it. If you wake up thinking, "I just can't do this for one more day," stop—and call your doctor immediately. "We have to take care of the mother, too," says Frank.

When mom is happier, baby will be happier. If it takes closing up the boob shop to accomplish this, so be it.

Keep Reading: 10 Ways to Be a More Confident Mom.