WATCH: What a psychiatrist says about bottle feeding guilt{0}

When most women start bottle feeding, the overwhelming emotion they feel is guilt.  Guilt that you’ve ‘failed’ at something ‘natural’.  Guilt because you feel, because you’ve been told so many times, that you’re not giving your baby ‘the best’ (the breast).  Guilt because perhaps you’re relieved that the pain of breastfeeding is finished, but that somehow that relief makes you a bad mother.

Psychiatrists and psychologists whom I have interviewed tell me that guilt over struggling to breastfeed, or not enjoying it, or giving it up completely is often a factor in their clients developing post-natal depression or post-natal anxiety.  (We go into this much more detail in our book Guilt-Free Bottle Feeding, and I’ve also written about it in The Times.)  And of course, guilty feelings and anxiety over struggling to breastfeed can then become a perpetual circle, with the stress affecting let-down, making mums even more stressed and guilty.

Dr Sam Margis is a perinatal psychiatrist at a wonderful family clinic near my home.  It’s called Nest.  He deals with women struggling with a whole range of emotions and issues around the time when they have a baby, and he says about 40 per cent of his clients experience guilt around breastfeeding problems.

Sam sees how much damage this guilt, stress and pressure does to his clients, so I asked him to share some of his thoughts on bottle feeding guilt.  To give you a heads up, his key message: that a happy, formula-feeding mum is better for baby than an unhappy breastfeeding one.