Some mothers have to give up breastfeeding even though they want to breastfeed. To give up breastfeeding can be a sensitive issue in a time when breastfeeding is promoted as the healthiest for mother and child. The aim of this study was to describe mothers’ experiences after they gave up breastfeeding even though they intended to breastfeed. A qualitative social constructive approach was used to describe mothers’ experiences after giving up breastfeeding. Danish first-time mothers who had expected and wanted to breastfeed were interviewed four months after birth. The interviews were analysed by meaning condensation. The mothers experienced that giving up breastfeeding was a crucial but necessary decision for the child’s health and well-being. They tried to “be on the side of the angels” by caring for and bonding with the child. The mothers were divided between expressing milk or formula feeding and initially felt especially insecure about which method to choose when not breastfeeding. It was difficult for them to face the world with a bottle, but they did not ask for help. The mothers found it hard to explain the difficulty they had experienced breastfeeding and they were concerned about what to do the next time around. The mothers always tried to do what they perceived was best for their child, but they were in a vulnerable position and not always supported and understood by the surroundings. Therefore, health professionals who focus on making new mothers feel successful need to be aware that mothers who have to give up breastfeeding need special attention and support.
Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 2013, Vol 27, Issue 4, p. 848-56