Sexual abuse is a scar that can even leave its mark on mothers who want to breastfeed. Though there is nothing sexual or wrong about breastfeeding, it can be a trigger for those who have suffered from sexual abuse. There are some preventative measures that mothers can take to avoid or limit this feeling. There are also alternatives to breastfeeding or methods of breastfeeding. Fine the one that works for you.
Consider counseling before or during pregnancy. There may be a lot of elements about motherhood that are going to trigger some unpleasant memories about your sexual abuse. Even if they don’t trigger memories, they may trigger unwelcome feelings that have nothing to do with your child. If you start counseling before you get pregnant, you may have an easier time handling this issue or learn some coping skills to help you through it.
Try pumping the milk. If the thing that bothers you is the child’s mouth on your breast, you might be better off pumping your milk. Your child will still get the same nutritional benefits and I you hold him or her in a similar manner as you would if you breastfed, you’ll still be working toward that bond that comes with traditional breastfeeding. The difference is that you won’t experience the anxiety that a latch can cause.
Be open with your partner. If your partner doesn’t know you were sexually abused, now is the time to let him know. This is a huge event in your life that impacts more areas than you may realize. A loving partner will be able to help you deal with your feelings. More than that, they will better understand you in general. When it comes to breastfeeding, he may even be able to reduce your anxiety by sitting with you during the process and elevating your feeling of safety so you aren’t so overwhelmed by the other feelings.
Don’t self-hate if you can’t breastfeed. If you find that you just can’t breastfeed, don’t look on it as a personal failure. You can still feed and bond with your child and you aren’t any less of a person for not breastfeeding. I was unable to and it caused me a great amount of stress and feelings of failure. Then I realized that my stress was going to impact my baby. This point in time wasn’t about me. It was about taking care of my child and I felt that my abusers had done enough to me; I wasn’t going to let them hurt my child through me.
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Source: Personal Experience