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Sheila writes:

<They may feel that their bodies have failed them, but do they feel like they are being treated unfairly just by seeing others finding joy in their condition? Does it make them feel guilty? Hurt? Jealous? Cheated?>

From somewhere in the past, out of my memory (of the many times I myself have been a "counselee") comes this thought: No one can MAKE anyone feel any certain emotion. Feelings are a reaction, and different people have different reactions, based partly on their personal histories and situations. Whether positive or negative, feelings are neither right or wrong- they just are. Mature, mentally healthy people ultimately choose either to accept their feelings or change how they react by changing the way they perceive the situation. Part of what keeps me at this, is that all too often, a mother's negative feelings seem justified. I have many times seen mothers end up feeling inadequate (as I did, with my first three breastfeeding experiences of 5-10days), when the fact is that there are still parts of our system that are inadequate.

I try now to focus my energies on using these insights on myself and my own feelings and attitudes. When I don't like my feelings-I know I can choose to look at things differently in order to react in a different way. I can be sensitive to how others might be likely to react, and tactful in what I say. Perhaps I can even help  see them see their situation in a different way. But it is ultimately their choice.

That's one of the things that jumped out at me when I first heard the title of Diana West's book: "Defining Your Own Success: Breastfeeding After Breast Reduction Surgery". I often try to think in that vein, and try to offer a mother a way to reframe the way she looks at her situation. I actively choose to be sensitive, choosing my words carefully, but I remind myself that I am not responsible for (nor can I take credit for, when things go well) what in reality, belong to her: her feelings. 

K. Jean Cotterman RNC-E, IBCLC
WIC Volunteer LC, Dayton, OH  

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