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A Letter to the Non Breastfeeding Mother

Dear Non Breastfeeding Mother,

I see you sitting there, cradling your little one while feeding her a bottle. I know you are a good mom. I know you love your baby – more than life itself. I’ll be honest though, there is a little part of me that wants to judge you for not breastfeeding. Part of me wants to tell you the benefits or help you through breastfeeding struggles. Part of me wants to ask why.

Part of me really wants to ask why you are a non breastfeeding mother. If you are feeding pumped milk, I may wonder if I could help ease your fears of nursing in public. If you are feeding formula, I may be tempted to say something about breast being best.

But, I won’t.

Dear non breastfeeding mother

I don’t know your story. I’ve never walked in your shoes. I am sure you are making the best decision for you for the moment. You love your baby. You are feeding your baby. That’s the most important thing.

I don’t know if you have adopted this child. Maybe you even tried to relactate. Maybe you gave birth and tried very hard to breastfeed but couldn’t. Maybe you don’t have the support you need. Maybe you breastfeed some but not all the time. Maybe you don’t want to breastfeed in public. Maybe your child has special medical needs.

Maybe you have been sexually traumatized in the past and realized you just couldn’t try. Maybe you are struggling with postpartum depression. Maybe you need medication that doesn’t allow you to breastfeed. Maybe you just decided not to.

No matter what the reason, I won’t ask why – not unless we are already close friends. I won’t give you the stink eye and make assumptions. We each have our own struggles as mothers and we each find the way to mother that works best for us. You may not want to divulge private details about why you don’t breastfeed and that’s completely ok.

Please know that if you have questions, I am here to help you and I won’t pressure you. I know this can be a sensitive and divisive topic – breast vs. formula. I won’t play into the mommy wars. I know that the best mom is the mom who is happy and healthy and who loves and feeds her child.

Non breastfeeding mother–no, just mother–keep up the good work. Love that baby!

Audra Michelle has been pregnant and/or breastfeeding for more than 6 years straight. Her first nursed for 15 months, her second for 14 months, and her third weaned at 27 months! Her first baby girl is thriving on breastmilk and will wean when she chooses.  Audra Michelle is a wife, mother, daughter, girlfriend, Jesus lover, and musician. You can find Audra Michelle blogging at UP and at Naturally Well.


  1. Michelle says

    As one of those mothers who tried really hard to breastfeed and it just didn’t work out, thank you. I always looked forward to breast feeding. I knew the benefits, and I had done Medela’s online course, and I had gotten a free pump from my insurance company. And now I am jealous and sad when I see and hear about mothers who can. My (first and only) baby girl is seven months old, and I still fight this mental battle once in a while. “Why was it so hard? If I had different nurses in the hospital would it have been different? Could someone have helped make it easier so that I wouldn’t have had to give up so quickly?”

    And then I remind myself of how much I cried, the first night home with her, at the thought of the excruciating pain I knew I would feel. She was crying and I knew she was hungry, and I couldn’t take care of my baby because it was so painful for me, so I let her go on crying while my well-meaning husband looked on and urged me to just do it. And she wouldn’t even latch on anyway, even though it seemed so natural and easy an hour after she was born. I remind myself of how much of a failure I felt like when I took out the small sample-size can of formula that I got when I registered at Buy Buy Baby, still crying and telling my husband I just needed a break “for just one feeding… maybe for just one night, but then in the morning we’ll try again.” I remind myself of the great relief I felt when I finally gave my daughter the bottle, and she drank it eagerly. I remind myself how in that moment, I knew without a doubt that after trying for the first 48 hours, we would not try breastfeeding anymore. I tried pumping but it didn’t work out any better, so before she was a week old I had given up on that idea too. I remind myself that I am a good Mom, because in giving her that first bottle, I wasn’t failing at breastfeeding — I was succeeding at feeding my daughter.

    I’m in a “mommy group” on Facebook with 11 other women who had babies in the same month as me, and I am the only one who did not breastfeed. I can’t wait until all of our babies are weaned, because so much of the conversations so far have been things I can’t relate to at all.

    So many people, friends and coworkers, are surprised (sometimes in a negative way) when they ask if I’m breastfeeding and I say no. I know that if I have another baby I want to try breastfeeding again, but it just didn’t work out for us this time. My daughter is happy and thriving, and she still gazes into my eyes while she’s in my arms drinking her formula with all the love she has in her little body.

    I know I don’t need to justify myself to anyone… Thank you for understanding and respecting moms like me. Not everyone in Camp (E)BF does. Many of us in Camp FF KNOW that breast is best. But it’s not always a viable option.

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