The mother-baby bond is one of the most majestic forms of love that a person can ever experience. Of course, it takes some time for it to become strong, but when it happens, this connection lasts forever.
Breastfeeding is among the factors that strengthens this magical bond. What’s more, breast milk is the most natural, the healthiest and… the cheapest way to provide all the vitamins and calories that the little ball of love needs.
Many positive trends promote breastfeeding as the only right way that mothers should follow. Many campaigns try to make moms confident when breastfeeding in public, which is completely normal, of course. Many activists help people out of their neurotic shell, which is needed because when people see a boob that’s not for sex purposes, they really do become 'disturbed.' Pumps, creams, nipple shields, and much more, help moms.
However, there are moms that don’t breastfeed. Some of them can’t, some of them shouldn’t, and some of them don’t want to. These moms are often accused of not being good moms and exposed to comments that implicate they are missing out.
Women that don’t breastfeed have heard it all, but before we drop another piece of advice, let’s have a look at 15 reasons why moms might be unable to breastfeed and need formula for their babies instead.
Do you remember the beautiful song “Hooked on a Feeling” from “Reservoir Dogs”? We all are dependent on certain feelings, and sometimes one of these feelings is getting high.
It’s not about the occasional glass of wine, beer or cigarette. The truth is that many pregnant women are addicted to illicit substances or prescribed drugs. Note that often methadone is used as a substitution therapy for opioid addictions.
It’s not a secret that many drugs can pass into our breast milk. Sadly enough, figures reveal some scary facts: in 2013, more than 27,000 babies in the U.S. were born dependent on drugs. That can lead to low weight, birth defects, and abstinence in newborns.
To prevent any risks for the newborn, such as seizures, diarrhea, and troubles sleeping, moms that take drugs should stay away not only from their drug of choice but from breastfeeding.
In the end, formula is not addictive or life-threatening. Maybe only constipating.
HIV is a terrifying virus, and unfortunately, HIV infection often leads to its final and terminal stage, AIDS. Let’s not forget that injecting drugs can lead to transmitting HIV.
Pregnant women can pass on the virus to their babies during pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding. Therefore, HIV-positive mothers should not breastfeed. Simply because breast milk also contains the virus.
Although researchers suggest using a formula, the situation in South Africa is changing. Due to the country’s high HIV-prevalence (18%), formula there is being distributed at no cost and many social workers strongly believe in its positive effects. However, various charities have been trying to help moms (even HIV-positive women) breastfeed. They claim that nursing reduces the risks of allergies, illnesses and fatal infections.
Well, breastfeeding can improve your baby’s immune system, but why take the risk of passing on a life-threatening virus?
Talking about HIV and its fatal outcomes, we should mention that more 1.5 million pregnant women live with HIV. Antiretroviral therapy is the main hope for many ill moms. Antiretroviral therapy can save lives and can be helpful when it comes to vertical HIV transmission. Unfortunately, only 62% of women worldwide, data shows, receive antiretroviral medications. Sometimes this treatment is for life.
The problem is that this therapy can lead to some antiretroviral therapy-associated toxicities and a wide range of severe side effects.
Although some countries favor breastfeeding while taking antiretroviral drugs, avoiding breastfeeding can save you and your little one a lot of complications. What’s more, feeding your baby while dealing with health problems is not the most enjoyable and loving process. And babies do feel that!
Let’s shed some light on the history of the human retrovirus era. Human T-cell lymphotropic virus (HTLV) was the first human retrovirus discovered. In 1979, the virus was found in a patient with cutaneous T-cell Lymphoma. Four years later, another retrovirus was discovered, first classified into the genus of T-cell lymphotropic viruses, and then into the Lentivirus genus. This virus is the terrifying HIV we discussed above.
Although HTLV is less researched than HIV, HTLV affects more than 15 million people worldwide. In the majority of cases, patients with HTLV develop leukemia.
Viral transmission occurs during breastfeeding. Therefore, if you are diagnosed with the virus, it’s recommended to stop breastfeeding. Using formula won’t make you a second-hand mom.
Tuberculosis is another dangerous disease that can stop you from breastfeeding. In 2015, 1.8 million people died from tuberculosis, and almost 11 million got ill.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends ill moms and babies be separated from each other, at least for a couple of weeks.
Does it sound heartbreaking? Well, seeing little babies trying to cope with tuberculosis and its devastating effects on their developing lungs is much more terrifying.
We should mention that the danger doesn’t come from the milk. Simply because breast milk doesn’t transmit the disease, but the… coughing mother.
Hey, this is good news. That means that if a mom pumps her milk and someone else feeds the baby, the little one can still get this vital, nutritious and divine nectar.
Cancer is one of the devouring illnesses of our society. Treatment can be hard. However, remember that treating cancer is crucial - it can save your life. Therefore, even if you want to nurse, never postpone surgery or treatment.
Cancerous cells can’t be passed through your milk but your treatment can’t be dangerous for the baby. Some drugs, chemotherapy and radioactive isotope therapy can affect the newborn.
Note that in some cases of breast cancer, mothers can still breastfeed from the unaffected breast. In the case of breast cancer, lumpectomy and mastectomy are two of the surgical options in front of the patients, for the removal of the tumor or for the removal of one or both breasts, respectively.
Cancer can’t affect your relationship with the baby because love can overcome everything.
Radiation therapy or radiotherapy can also be used for the treatment of cancer. In fact, it’s one of the most common treatments. It’s important to know that three types of radiotherapy exist: external, internal or systematic (that relies on radioactive drugs).
While some experts don’t recommend breastfeeding during radioactive therapy, others say that mothers can continue breastfeeding. True or not, one thing is for sure: radiation can limit the milk production and be toxic.
If you’ve had treatment in the past, do not hesitate and talk to your doctor about potential risks and of course, your worries.
That being said, prevention and diagnostic tests are crucial. Note that nursing is safe during testing for cancer. X-ray, ultrasounds, and biopsy won’t affect your baby.
Herpes infections can cause a lot of trouble not only to our beauty but health. Well, I believe that most of us have suffered from cold sores. Symptoms include little and persisting blisters that can be itchy and painful, blisters that spread rapidly.
Herpes simplex virus and varicella-zoster virus are part of the herpes-virus family. Herpes simplex virus type 1 is the common sore in the mouth area. Herpes simplex 2 is genital herpes. Varicella-zoster virus can cause chickenpox or zoster.
Breastfeeding with herpes is possible as the risk of passing the virus onto the baby through the milk is low. However, it’s better to avoid breastfeeding as the baby can get the virus by skin-to-skin contact. Herpes can be very dangerous, especially for a baby under three weeks of age.
Also, note that if the mom has chickenpox for the first time few days before or after birth that can be life-threatening for the baby.
Breastfeeding is a natural process. As such, it shouldn’t be painful. Okay, let’s be honest - it’s common to feel some uncomfortable contractions when you start breastfeeding. Also, many women report having sore nipples, which might become a problem. At least, in this diverse society, one can choose from various creams and nipple shields.
However, pain during breastfeeding is a sign of some latch problems, lactation consultant Sandra Yates of Vancouver says: "Nipple damage, decreased milk production and yeast infection are some of the causes of sudden and unbearable pain. Plugged duct and mastitis are some of the serious problems that can rapidly develop. Thus, pain is one of the serious reasons to stop breastfeeding."
If the breast milk is not infected, pumping can be an option, only in case it doesn’t cause more pain.
Running nose, headaches, coughing: nobody can escape from the annoying consequences of the common cold. Experts claim that a mom should not stop breastfeeding as breast milk actually improve the baby’s immune system. In addition, many nasal sprays, eye drops, and natural remedies can help the nursing mom. When it comes to natural stuff, have in mind that garlic and acidic foods may cause stomach irritation, gas, and pain for the baby.
If left untreated, though, a simple cold can develop into serious health complications. Bronchitis and pneumonia are among the risks for the patients.
It's worth considering to stop breastfeeding for a week or two and treat your cold properly. Meanwhile, you can continue pumping to prevent mastitis or other problems. It’s sad to dump your milk, but it’s for a good reason.
So far we’ve talked about medical problems that can stop the mom from breastfeeding. However, there are some disorders in infants that make breastfeeding impossible and dangerous.
Galactosemia, which is a rare disorder of the metabolism, is one of these disorders. It occurs in 1 in every 70,000 babies.
As the liver can’t break down galactose into glucose, breastfeeding can be dangerous. In fact, classic galactosemia, or galactose 1-phosphate uridyltransferase deficiency, is a contraindication for breastfeeding. Simply because breast milk could lead to vomiting, jaundice, seizures and mental retardation.
Thus, a lactose-free formula is needed. Do not worry, though: formulas can provide all the vitamins your little one needs.
In addition, some moms diagnosed with galactosemia themselves worry about breastfeeding. If the mom has this condition, it’s perfectly okay to breastfeed.
As we know pregnancy, birth, and motherhood bombard people with hormones, emotions, and deep feelings. Fear, exhaustion and pain can lead to various mental problems, such as depression, anxiety, and alienation. The number of moms suffering from postnatal depression is high and unless they seek help, their condition puts the relationship with their baby at risk. Some of the terrible consequences are attachment problems, neglecting the baby and even abuse. It’s been proven that a vast majority of kids with depressed moms develop emotional problems.
One of the problems of our society is that moms that suffer emotionally are often stigmatized and ignored. Be aware that there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Although research suggests that nursing can reduce negative moods, it’s better to avoid breastfeeding while feeling down and detached from reality. Simply because these negative emotions can be transferred to the baby and the little one can become irritated, moody and frustrated.
Let’s not forget that stress can lead to decreased milk production, which can result in not enough supply for the baby.
Motherhood is based not only on love but social support. As we can witness, friends often become distant when the baby is born and family is there only to give unwanted advice.
Lack of social support can lead to many emotional and physical problems. Psychosomatic disorders are common and often a nursing mom can find herself struggling with breastfeeding. As mentioned above, breastfeeding while dealing with a psychological problem is not recommended.
Social support can be very helpful for moms that still want to give breast milk to their babies but don’t want to give their breast. Thanks to pumping, moms can pump and store some milk and other members of her family could feed the baby while she is resting.
In the end, people that love each other should provide support, respect, and understanding.
Last but not least, breastfeeding is a personal choice. Some moms decide to stop breastfeeding. Medications are available. Horrifying stories, mental problems, physical illnesses, pain, no time or just lack of milk supply, it doesn't matter. Moms are free to decide what to do with their bodies. Even saggy breasts can make some women think twice before they start breastfeeding.
The point is that if you don’t have enough milk, there’s no point in keeping your baby hungry or yourself preoccupied with time-consuming pumping. Many people say that all babies latch but... they don’t.
Personally, as my baby girl couldn’t latch, after all the lactating tea and annoying pumping (apologies for being honest), I stopped. Why? Well, when my doctor saw the blue veins that had appeared on my breasts (a result of unsuccessful pumping) she told me to stop torturing myself. And I did.
It’s really sweet to see your baby searching for your nipple and it’s a big success to pump enough to feed your baby, but in the end, it’s all personal choice.
Does it matter how you feed your baby when you spoil the little ball of joy with love?!
Sources: BabyCenter.com, nichd.nih.gov, Parents.com