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.

Breastfeeding failure?

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 important to allow yourself to feel those emotions. However, it is equally important not to think of yourself as a failure. You may not be satisfied with your experience and things may not have gone as planned, but you absolutely do not fail when it comes to breastfeeding. Even if your child breastfed for just one day, this is a precious gift and something to be proud of.

It is also common for mothers to feel guilty. It seems as if guilt has become an ‘occupational hazard’ of being a mother. Instead of feeling guilty, perhaps mothers should be feeling angry. Why is it that almost all women start out by breastfeeding, but less than half of babies are fully breastfed at 4 months? In many cases, it is because their mothers did not 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.

Your options if you are not breastfeeding

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 January 2019

Last reviewed: 
Jan 2019