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When breastfeeding doesn’t work out

Many mums feel a deep sense of loss when they can't breastfeed or have to wean early.

Sad mother holding baby

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 volunteers have experienced breastfeeding challenges themselves. Indeed, it is often the reason why they trained to become a volunteer in the first place. ABA provides unconditional support, no matter what your parenting decisions are. 

Mixed feelings about weaning

Many mums 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 your 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. In addition, speaking with a counsellor from Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Association (PANDA) can provide emotional and mental health support.   

Can I restart?

Sometimes a mum who has weaned decides to resume breastfeeding. With patience and determination (and a cooperative baby), you can often rebuild your milk supply very successfully. This is called relactation. Contact an ABA counsellor to find out how to go about this.

Breastfeeding next time round

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

  • talking over your previous breastfeeding experience with an ABA breastfeeding counsellor 

  • attending a Breastfeeding Education Class 

  • preparing a breastfeeding plan 

  • attending local ABA group activities to meet other mums. 

© Australian Breastfeeding Association May 2022