new mom guilt

When I left the hospital with Ryder and Jeff on July 6, there should have been a sign posted that read, “… welcome to motherhood, you will feel guilty about anything and everything”. Or at least I do.

I have always had a terrible time with guilt.  I feel bad or guilty for doing something or not doing something and as a new mother it seems to have escalated. I feel guilty if I put Ryder in his Fisher Price swing vs holding him constantly, or for deciding to go for a walk to get him to sleep vs rocking him to sleep, going to pilates class vs hanging out with my little family in the evening…. you name it, I feel guilty about it.

I was violently ill before I left PEI last week. I had a terrible stomach flu which meant I vomited A TON and became extremely dehydrated. Because we weren’t sure what the cause of my illness was we decided I should pump and dump my breast milk and use only formula for Ryder. Since last Friday my milk supply has been extremely low. I called the BC Health Nurse line yesterday and explained the situation. This was the response,

“First off, YOU SHOULD NOT have dumped the breast milk. You should have continued to use it.”

“Oh, Okay, well I wasn’t aware of that.”

“Well, that is in the past so you can’t change anything…. and you shouldn’t use formula, you should use only breast milk.”

She then told me to continue to pump and breast feed as much as possible, which was great advice. However, after hanging up the phone I had an overwhelming feeling of guilt. The phrase “that is in the past, you can’t change that now” repeated through my mind.

Am I an awful mother for supplementing with formula?

Will Ryder grow a third arm because my milk supply is low?

Am I selfish for not drinking enough while I was sick?

Will my milk ever come back again?

I know the response to all of these questions is a resounding NO. Deep down I know my son is gaining weight, he giggles all of the time, he is growing, he is happy, and most importantly he is LOVED!

During the moments I feel guilty, those truths need to be my mantra.

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15 thoughts on “new mom guilt

  1. I think lots of Mom’s could come out of the woodwork and admit their overwhelming guilt! You may be starting a revolution here sista’! Way to go sharing your thoughts.

    Also, you are doing a FABULOUS job! My little nephew is loved, happy, and healthy. And…he giggles! That’s a well-fed baby. :)

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  2. Oh Amanda! I wish I could pick up the phone to call you right now (but I might wake the baby). My one piece of advice to every new family is: do what YOU as a famnily need to do to make it through each hurdle and deal with any consquences later. If you are happy and well, that will help make everyone else happy and well too. You did what you felt was right at the time and you shouldn’t have anyone make you feel guilty about it. As for your milk, it will come back – just relax and don’t worry too much (I know, easier said than done!) but seriously – take a few days, veg on the couch in front of some good movies, and have a beer (beer does help with the production of milk, helps you relax and will not hurt Ryder), you can also drink fenugreek tea which helps with milk production. I also found Jack Newman’s books and website (http://www.breastfeedinginc.ca/) very helpful. Thinking of you.

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    1. Jane, thanks so much. I am off to get fenugreek tomorrow morning first thing and I had a great chat with a different nurse at the immunization clinic today who gave me the wise words of “be kinder to yourself”.

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  3. You are SO not an awful mother for supplementing with formula or for anything else. The public health nurse you talked to is an awful {insert word here I won’t say because it’s a very bad word, but insert your own insult to her here} for not supporting you and just giving you the information you needed without making you feel judged. Honestly, the pressure to be a perfect Mom, including producing perfect breast milk and being able to nurse constantly, makes me crazy. On the one hand, the media feeds us the “you shouldn’t be a helicopter parent because it’ll make your kid into an idiot adult” messaging, then follows it up with an article about how to cut your kid’s organic, sustainably grown carrots into appealing tulips to ensure they get every ounce of vitamins they could ever possibly need. Mixed message much?

    Even caring enough to think about this makes you a great Mom in my books, and Ryder is very lucky to have been born into a household where the topic of what’s best for him is almost always on the top of the priority list. (Notice I said almost? Cause it shouldn’t be always. You, the Mom, get to have pleasure once in awhile that isn’t derived strictly from him. Crazy eh?)

    Hey guess what… I give my kid juice every day!! That’s right, I said it, JUICE!! EVERY DAY!!! FILLED WITH FRUIT SUGARS!!! She’s going to be an axe murderer!!!

    Can you tell this is one of my hot buttons yet?

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    1. ….and this is why i will miss you so much as my boss and as a royal roads confidante. you tell it like it is and your words of wisdom in parenting has helped me so much. xo.

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  4. Amanda you care and give Ryder everything you have. You have to remember to take time for you. Ryder is like a new relaionship in some ways-you have to have your time and his time with Jeff. It gives Jeff time to bond with him as well since you are with him all day.As he gets older and sees you doing things for you and he will see that as a good thing.

    All things will be ok. You are a great Mom. Hugs.

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  5. Your child will suffer more if you don’t look after your own health and well being than the odd lapse when you do whatever is needed to get through. He’s already had the major benefits of breast feeding from you. If he didn’t have a major reaction to the formula he’s fine. You’re both back on track. My personal sanity saviour was Donald Winnicott’s phrase “a good enough mother”. Seems to me you’re doing a lot better than most. Babies need short spells of quiet unstimulated time too, the important thing is to tune into their needs, not to oversupply them. When the guilt appears, banish it – it doesn’t help any of you. Love, care, mutual enjoyment….I’d say you’re a natural at this mothering thing. X

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  6. Amanda, breasfeeding and/or formula was a constant issue for me… Turns out I just don’t produce much and had to supplement both kids (despite attempting to not go that route the second time around). Both my babies (at least so far) have managed to grow into functioning and healthy seven- and four-year olds. I took a lot of comfort from the weekly baby group drop ins at Mothering Touch, and specifically, Eva Bild helped keep me going through all the various ‘downs’ of breastfeeding (and never judged me for having to supplement).

    And don’t fret – the ‘breastfeeding guilt’ turns into ‘why-won’t-this-toddler/preschooler-eat-something-other-than-fishy-crackers-and-hot-dogs’ guilt (I’m still working on that one…). :)

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  7. I think guilt is just part of being a parent. A part that won’t ever go away. You are a great mom! One thing I constantly feel guilty about is how I let Cole cry when I put him down, while i get some things done around the house or while I make some lunch and eat it. I know in my head that he doesn’t need to be held 24/7 but is it mean of me to just leave him there crying.

    This the first time I’ve been on your blog. I love it. Keep up the good work. :)

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