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Health & Baby

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5 New Mom Guilt Trips to Skip

These guilt trips aren't taking you anywhere helpful. Here's how to get back on track.

2. Not breastfeeding every time.

The American Academy of Pediatrics highly recommends that healthy women breastfeed their babies for the first six to 12 months of life. There is ample evidence that breastfeeding has health benefits both for babies and mothers.

For that reason, new moms face a tremendous amount of pressure to breastfeed. If you’ve recently given birth, there’s a good chance you were paid a visit in the hospital by a lactation consultant extolling the benefits of breastfeeding, or were bombarded with literature on the topic.

“Because of all that there is an increased level of guilt among mothers who don’t think they can pull it off,” says Roya Samuels, MD, a pediatrician at Cohen Children's Medical Center, a division of the North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System.

The fact is, however, that nursing simply doesn’t work well for all families for a range of reasons, which unfortunately, can leave many new moms feeling horrible about the health benefits they think they are denying their new bundle of joy.

Breast is best but formula is a wonderful alternative if it doesn’t make sense for your lifestyle or is not possible for any reason,” Samuels says. “There’s nothing wrong with formula. Babies will get the optimal nutrition they need.”

“The most important issue is you being a content mother,” Manevitz says. “Being an unhappy nursing mom is not better than a happy mom feeding your baby joyfully with formula.”

3. Returning to work.

Returning to work is one of the biggest guilt inducers a new mom can face. And though it’s understandable to want to be at home with your baby, experts say children are remarkably resilient and can adapt and thrive in many different types of family arrangements.

The reality is that over the past decade -- and especially today, given the economy -- many families have come to rely on the income of both partners. “I tell mothers that they need to do what’s right for themselves in their family life,” Samuels says.

Doing what’s right often means earning enough money to keep a family clothed, sheltered, and fed, but it also means making sure that as a parent that you are personally fulfilled. “Some moms are better mothers working part or full time,” Samuels says. For many women, having an outlet and sense of purpose both inside and outside of the home helps them to feel whole. Wholeness makes for a better parent, Samuels says.

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