The benefits of breastfeeding are undeniable — but that doesn't mean breastfeeding is easy for everyone.
In a new interview with People, former Bachelorette star Emily Maynard Johnson opened up about her struggle to breastfeed, as well as her subsequent guilt over quitting breastfeeding after having her third child.
“Breastfeeding is really hard,” she revealed. “I breastfed Ricki, I breastfed Jennings for a while and then Gibson, it’s so hard with other kids running around. And then I got mastitis (a painful infection of the breast tissue) which is like the worst, worse than childbirth I feel like.”
Mastitis, a form of breast inflammation that can be linked to breast tissue infections, affects up to 20% of people who breastfeed every year. Mastitis often occurs within the first three months of breastfeeding, and may be caused by a blocked milk duct, or bacteria entering the breast, as well as stress and fatigue, pressure on the breast from a too-tight bra, missed feedings, or poor hand or breast pump hygiene. It can even happen to those who aren't pregnant or breastfeeding, but it is usually incredibly painful.
It's no wonder, then, that it led Maynard Johnson to stop breastfeeding altogether.
"I just quit," she told People. "I didn’t want to tell anybody that I quit. I was trying to hide formula. I saw all of these beautiful breastfeeding pictures, I don’t know if I would post a picture like that, but I would love the option. I wanted to so bad."
The mom guilt that Maynard Johnson felt is common amongst those who have decided that they won't continue to breastfeed, whether due to health conditions, or simply by choice.
Unfortunately, instances of moms being shamed for not breastfeeding aren't helping matters. As any mom would tell you, motherhood is hard enough without the pressure to do everything exactly right — and no one should ever make you feel guilty for the choices you make when you're trying to do what's best for your child and yourself.
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