14 Reasons Mom Might Not Be Able To Breastfeed

The first thing that needs to be said with this article is that being unable to breastfeed does not make an unfit mother. Yes, breastfeeding the baby does make for a great start in the newborn's life, but and this is a strong but, just because baby hasn't been fed from mom doesn't mean they can't be happy and perfectly healthy human beings.

No new mother should be discouraged from breastfeeding, but sometimes it simply isn't an option, and other solutions need to be found such as formula or donor milk. I've uncovered an astonishing amount of criticism online towards mothers who aren't able to breastfeed - one mom who'd had a double mastectomy was hounded because she was giving her baby formula - and it's bloody disheartening. Breaking down a mother who'd lost her boobs to cancer? Come on.

But there are instances when a mom is very capable of breastfeeding, if, that is, she changes her behaviour. For example, it's not advised to drink and breastfeed, or take drugs and breastfeed, or smoke and breastfeed. In these cases, breastfeeding issues, can, more often than not be turned around if the mom has the right attitude towards her health and the health of her baby.

If you're expecting or are still in the early days with the new love of your life, and are looking to be clued up for reasons why you might not be able to breastfeed your infant, we'll get you informed.

14 If Mom Has Had Breast Reduction Surgery

So you've had the puppies reduced. Chances are then you might have a low supply of breast milk and won't be able to nurse your baby full time.

If your nipple was removed, then placed back on your reconstructed boob, damage may have been caused to the nerves, milk ducts and the breast tissue which may limit the flow of your milk as well as lessening the sensation that you can feel in your nipples.

Where breastfeeding is concerned, nerves are crucial. What they do is activate the release of prolactin and oxytocin, two hormones which affect milk production and letdown - the reflex that ensures your baby is getting enough milk.

You'll have a higher chance of being able to supply milk if you still have feeling in your nips. However, it's a waiting game to find out. You'll only know when the time comes to nurse your baby.

13 If Mom Doesn't Have Enough Glandular Tissue

This one can be a bit of a heart-breaker for a new mom, especially if you've dreamed about the breastfeeding relationship with your baby.

A small percentage of women - we're talking about one in a thousand - don't have enough glandular tissue in their breasts to be able to provide enough milk to feed their little one. This condition is also known as hypoplasia.

You might notice one of your boobs looks different to the other. You also may not have experienced any boob growth during your pregnancy. Breasts with this condition may be large or small. It's actually the shape, placement and asymmetry of your boobs which may be a sign of hypoplasia. Large or bulbous areolae are also an indication.

If you're a mom with low glandular tissue, there's a chance you can feed your baby with your milk, but you'll need to supplement with a bottle.

12 If Mom Has An Infection

So you are bunged up with a cold, suffering from those god awful flu flushes or have a nasty gastrointestinal infection and you're wondering if it's ok to nurse the baby. There are, actually, very few conditions when a mother isn't able to nurse.

If your baby is over three weeks old and all proper precautions and hygiene measures are met, you can breastfeed because there's no risk to the baby - expect in rare circumstances. However any younger than three weeks, and your baby is especially vulnerable to infection. Once you're well again, you can resume breastfeeding as normal. If you're worried about maintaining your milk supply, you can keep it up by pumping.

If you have the flu when you give birth, you should expect to be kept apart from the baby until you are no longer contagious. Breastfeeding would definitely be off the table at that point.

11 If Mom's Receiving Radiation Treatment


If you are having radiation treatment - when high energy rays are used to eliminate cancer cells - it's really important not to nurse your baby unless you've consulted with your doctor and have discussed the situation and the risks involved.

The most common form of treatment is external beam radiation. This is usually safe when you're breastfeeding but not if you're receiving chemotherapy at the same time. There are, of course, exceptions so, as mentioned before, talk to your doctor before giving your baby the boob.

If you have breast cancer and are having radiation on both of your breasts, then you can't breastfeed. If one boob is healthy and free from the radiation treatment, it's ok to go ahead and breastfeed with it. One thing you need to know, and which may alleviate some stress, is that cancerous cells cannot be passed through your milk to the baby.

10 If Mom Has An Alcohol Addiction

While drinking through the nursing period isn't illegal, consuming vast quantities of alcohol can be extremely harmful to a breastfeeding baby.

If you're the mother of a newborn, know this - your baby's brain is still developing and is very vulnerable to what you take into your body. If there's alcohol in your breast milk, chances are your baby will drink less and not grow properly.

The amount of alcohol in your breast milk is similar to that in your blood, and alcohol is fast-acting, meaning it moves quickly into your milk. Leading health organizations have stated that breastfeeding women shouldn't consume more than one drink a day.

Being drunk while breastfeeding might mean you drop the baby, pass out and be unable to respond to your baby's needs or fall asleep and suffocate your child. If you have a problem with alcohol, your child's well-being counts on you seeking help.

9 If Mom Has A Drug Addiction

Of course you want your baby to be as healthy as possible, otherwise you wouldn't be reading this. Remember that nearly all of what you take into your body is passed on to your child.

Marijuana, cocaine and heroin are all easily transmitted through breast milk and should be avoided at all costs when breastfeeding. Any amount of these substances are dangerous for your growing baby, but cocaine especially as the concentration of the drug may actually be higher in your milk than in your blood. (If you have used cocaine in the past but are no longer actively using, you can safely breastfeed as long as you've tested negative for cocaine when your baby is delivered, are in a substance treatment program and plan to continue treatment.)

Quitting drugs before getting pregnant is the ideal, however stopping at any point during your pregnancy and after will benefit your baby.

8 If Mom Smokes

If you smoke and have dreams of breastfeeding your baby, today could be a good day to decide to stop.

Researchers have discovered that the nicotine that is transferred into your milk upsets the baby. One study showed that moms who smoked the heaviest were actually the first to wean. Smoking also leads to lower milk production and it interferes with milk let-down. It can also cause symptoms in your baby such as nausea, abdominal cramps and vomiting. Aren't these incentives enough to drop the smokes in the trash?

Of course, quitting is easier said than done and it can take some time before you are able to stop completely. So, if you're in the process of quitting, know that you shouldn't smoke before or during breastfeeding. It's also best to wait 4-5 hours after smoking before you feed your baby again. If you can, smoke away from the house.

7 If Mom Has Difficulty With Discomfort

Is it hurting every time you breastfeed? Do you feel yourself tearing up whenever your little one latches on because your boobs are so god damn sore? Is there pain between feedings? Do you find yourself dreading the next time your baby needs to nurse?

Perhaps this pain has been continuing past the first couple of weeks. Well, don't think that you need to suffer through this in silence. You don't! What you're experiencing isn't normal but in most instances, something can be done to help alleviate the pain.

There can be many causes as to why you're experiencing pain while breastfeeding, from anatomical issues to infection. If your nipples are cracked or bleeding, or if there's any other damage, see a breastfeeding professional. And don't feel guilty if you need to stop breastfeeding while your nipples heal. Your boobs need the respite and baby will happily return to them.

6 If Mom's Taking Medication

Before you start to have a panic attack - many of us are on medication for one reason or another, aren't we - the list of medication that's unsafe for nursing moms is actually very small in the grand scheme of things.

The vast majority of medications can be taken safely, without you needing to worry about them harming your baby.

The amount of medication that makes it into your breast milk, and how it can affect your baby all depends on such factors as the type of medicine, the dose, and the way that you take it, so consult with your doctor.

The following drugs are considered unsafe to a nursing baby:

Acebutolol (Sectral) - a beta blocker that is used to treat high blood pressure and abnormal heart rhythm, Citalopram - used to treat depression, and Antihistamine/decongestant combinations (Contac, Dimetapp) - which are used to treat colds and allergies.

5 If Mom Has Had Breast Implants

If you have had breast implants then there is a chance that it may be more difficult for you to be able to nurse. It doesn't matter if you've had saline or silicone implanted, as this doesn't seem to have an effect on breastfeeding success, what does matter however is that there was an incision made.

If the incision was made closer to the crease, you're likely to have more success with breastfeeding than if it was made closer to the nipple area.

Evidence suggests one reason why implants might impact your milk supply is that surgery is capable of causing damage to the milk ducts, while the pressure from the implants can harm the breast tissue.

If you're considering having implants done before having a baby, make a note to tell your surgeon that you intend to breastfeed in the future. Also bear in mind pregnancy may change your boobs.

4 If Mom Has Mastitis

Mastitis - though it sounds like some kind of blood sucking bug - is an inflammation of the breast caused by an infection.

It occurs most frequently when you're breastfeeding - usually 1 - 3 months after the delivery of your baby. What happens is bacteria, often from your baby's mouth, enters a milk duct by way of a crack in your nipple. Though it can occur in women who haven't recently given birth, as well as those who have been through menopause, 1%-3% of women who are breastfeeding develop the condition. Incomplete breast emptying can contribute towards mastitis occurring and make it worse.

It's a rare condition in women who're healthy. But if you have diabetes, AIDS or an impaired immune system, you're more susceptible.

This infection makes your milk taste salty, though as it gets better - mastitis is treated with antibiotics - the saltiness will reduce.

3 If Mom Has Had A Double Mastectomy

If you have had a double mastectomy you won't be able to breastfeed, but listen, under no circumstances should any cancer survivor be made to feel they're an inadequate mother because they're not able to breastfeed.

Lady, you're still here to give baby all the love he or she needs, so celebrate and forget the trolls who don't know what you've been through but have a distorted opinion anyway. They don't matter!

Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, a journalist from Washington D.C. had a double mastectomy at 32. Five years later she went on to give birth to her first child and immediately started to get hounded by other mothers. One day after her son's birth, she was criticised for giving him a bottle. Another time she was giving her son a bottle at a yoga class and another mother said 'you know, breastfeeding is optimal.' Everywhere she went, Emily was told 'breast is best.'

2 If Mom Has An Inverted Nipple

If you are unsure if you have an inverted nipple or not, you should know an inverted nipple retracts or pulls inwards when stimulated. The appearance can really vary. They may look flat, or they might be only slightly dimpled and intended or they might be very indented in the center.

You can check your own nipple by squeezing the aureo gently about one inch behind the nipple with your thumb and index finger. If you see that your nipple becomes dimpled or clearly indents, then it's inverted.

In rare cases, nipples may be so deeply indented that they can obstruct the flow of milk. The best way to find out if you are able to breastfeed is to give it a try. If you do have inverted nipples, don't delay breastfeeding. It might not be easy, but with the right support, your baby should become used to your nipple.

1 If Mom Has A Poor Milk Supply

So your boobs aren't providing as much milk as they ought to be, and you're perplexed as to why this could be. Well, an adequate supply of milk is fueled by an adequate demand from your baby. Anything that hinders your baby reaching for the boob could be a lead to the problem.

If you have been supplementing your breast milk for formula, then your child will take less milk from your boob, and this in turn means they don't produce as much.

Your short milk supply could also be linked to infrequent feedings. If you're stretching out the time between your baby's meals, then your boobs won't be stimulated enough for them to produce enough milk.

You can boost your milk supply by ensuring your baby's latch is correct, that you drain both breasts at each feeding, by pumping between feedings and by always feeding your baby on demand.

Sources: Essential Parent, Your Natural Birth

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