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When breastfeeding doesn't work out

The latest research shows that 9 out of 10 women start out by breastfeeding their babies. Most women want to breastfeed. Unfortunately, despite our wishes, hopes and efforts, sometimes breastfeeding doesn’t work out.

If you are reading this and your breastfeeding experience was not all you hoped it would be, please know that ABA is here for you. Many ABA counsellors have experienced breastfeeding challenges themselves — indeed, it is often the reason why they trained to become a counsellor in the first place. ABA provides unconditional support, no matter what your parenting decisions are.

Many mothers feel a deep sense of loss when they are unable to breastfeed, either at all or for as long as they had planned. This is natural. It is normal to feel sad, and to feel some grief and remorse. It is important to allow yourself to feel these emotions. You may not be satisfied with your experience and things may not have gone as planned. Even if you child breastfed for just one day, this is a precious gift and something to be proud of. 

It can take some time to feel better about things. Turning to those who care about you such as your partner, family or friends can help. Speaking with an ABA counsellor can help too. In addition, speaking with a counsellor from Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Association (PANDA) can help provide emotional and mental health support. 

Almost all women start out by breastfeeding, but less than half of babies are fully breastfed at 4 months. Sometimes this is because women don't get the right information and the right support, at the right time. That's how the Australian Breastfeeding Association came about — 6 women who recognised the need for community-based, up-to-date breastfeeding information and support.

Babies under 12 months require breastmilk or formula to grow and develop. If you are not breastfeeding your baby, you can:

Sometimes a mother decides to resume breastfeeding after a break. With patience and determination (and a cooperative baby), a mother can often rebuild a milk supply very successfully. For more information on relactation, contact an ABA counsellor or see our Breastfeeding: and relactation booklet, sold through the Australian Breastfeeding Association.

Breastfeeding Take 2

Many women can breastfeed their next baby even if breastfeeding did not work out with previous child/ren. Things that can help are:

Further resources

© Australian Breastfeeding Association July 2019

Last reviewed: 
Jul 2019