Why Breastfeeding Shouldn’t Define You As a Good Mother

By Isabelle Nougier-Gallen

I was always sure that breastfeeding was my solution to truly feel like a mother. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I figured it’s natural.. so what could go wrong?

...My first son was born a month premature. His first days in the world were hard; he didn’t know how to suckle and contradicting advice from my midwives made breastfeeding tough.

Back home, he lost weight. Upon expressing my milk for the first time, we discovered I had none. For 15 days I expressed my milk with little result and became deeply depressed.

Luckily, over time, he began to bottle feed well and started to blossom. Even so, I was still resentful of the topic and felt guilty. I tried to find excuses and kept thinking maybe I didn’t try enough?

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When pregnant with my second son, I refused to let the same thing happen. I was prepared with books, a breast pump and a midwife.

After the delivery, I tried breastfeeding him but realised something was wrong. Working with a breastfeeding consultant, we failed to promote enough milk production – I returned home devastated and bottle feeding my second newborn.

It took 6 days at home before I produced enough milk. I tried everything from different positions to nipple protectors, but he wouldn't latch on. I'd express milk for 2 hours when he was sleeping and complete it with infant formula when I couldn't produce enough. I was frustrated and exhausted but continued for a month. By the end my milk was too scarce and light.. and my baby was hungry.

It was so hard to stop trying. I cried... a lot. I felt guilty, useless, and angry. I’d even ask my husband “Why on Earth do I have such big boobs if they’re only for show?!”

But the worst part was explaining myself to the breastfeeding supporters and bottle supporters. Breastfeeding my babies was my dream and it would never happen. I ached over this “personal failure” for the next year. But over time, I realised something else.

Motherhood isn’t reduced to breastfeeding. There are many other ways to be a great mum to our children through time, care and devotion.

See, it’s not a personal failure. Breastfeeding may be natural, but it’s not an easy experience. It requires teamwork between you and your bub, and Mother Nature doesn’t always help with timing. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, it just doesn’t happen.

So instead of guilt, focus on all the other parts of your maternity experience and motherhood that you can do. Your baby still needs you, your other children too, even your partner!

Remember, you are a woman as all others, and a great mother is one who always does her best.

That is what counts.


BIO: Isabelle Nougier-Gallen is a French Mum of 2 boys on a mission to have a third. She's reinventing herself through a career change and new focus on giving more thought to what matters most: family, friends, community & the arts.

Follow her reinvention on Instagram @

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