Solutions for Common Reasons Not To Breastfeed
The first six (6) months in the life of an infant is essential. During this period, breastfeeding helps improves a baby’s health, and it helps moms recover from the journey of pregnancy. Still, not all women can nurse their children or choose to.
There are a variety of reasons why women cannot breastfeed or don’t want to. In recent years, more and more women are choosing to nurse because of its many benefits. However, despite awareness, some barriers prevent women from choosing this option.
Here is a list of the most common reasons moms don’t breastfeed as well as solutions to combat these issues.
Insufficient Breastfeeding Knowledge
Although it seems to be a natural act, some moms believe breastfeeding is more of a burden because it takes up time, effort, requires a lifestyle change, and it can also come with a learning curve. Some mothers expect breastfeeding to be very easy and are surprised when it isn’t. So, when uncertainties unfold, challenges exceed expectations, and they soon give up.
Feeling discouraged because of a lack of skills, training, and resources shouldn’t be hard to tackle in this modern day society. Thanks to the extra efforts of breastfeeding advocates informing the public, and even celebrity culture, most women worldwide are now aware of many breastfeeding benefits. One need not look further to solve this issue than the internet, books, doulas, lactation specialists, social media support groups, and more.
On the other hand, it should be stressed that opting out of breastfeeding may not always be the most optimal option. Perhaps women will be more encouraged to breastfeed if they know that it can protect their baby from various diseases like diarrhea, asthma, type one (1) diabetes, ear infections, and sudden infant death syndrome. Knowledge is truly power.
Problems with Lactation
One reason why moms cannot breastfeed despite their willingness to do so is any medical condition that can affect milk flow and quality. These issues will ultimately affect the health of the baby.
A healthy milk supply requires a healthy mom. So, if a mother needs to undergo a medical procedure, they will have to secure a doctor's permission before breastfeeding. Some circumstances hamper nursing and can cause a temporary delay or an early stoppage.
Based on medical diagnosis, PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome, hypothyroidism, and radiation treatment for breast cancer may make breastfeeding impossible because of its impact on the body's ability to produce milk. There are also prescription drugs that can harm the infant or reduce the flow of milk, like drugs for chemotherapy, radioactive iodine, seizure medicine, and those which can cause breath suppression and drowsiness.
It is also difficult for women to continue breastfeeding when suffering from mastitis, engorged breasts, and sore nipples. More often than not, babies cannot latch, and breastfeeding has to stop.
One solution for this issue is to use a lactation specialist if applicable, and another is using a human milk bank. Many mothers willingly donate their milk to families facing these issues so babies can get adequate nutrition. Like blood banks, donated breast milk is tested for various diseases (such as HIV, hepatitis, etc.), bacteria, and nutritional structure. It is also pasteurized as a preventative measure.
Adjustment Stage of Moms
Adjustment to breastfeeding is one of the most challenging issues, especially for first-time moms and single-parents. More than the point of milk supply, they are also confronted with various daily problems that include sleep deprivation, caring for or finding someone to care for the baby, and the possibility of pumping enough milk to feed the baby when at work. Plus, household chores while caring for the baby, working, and recovering from giving birth can be cumbersome.
Aside from these, it is also a complicated and sensitive issue for women to deal with their body changing. Breastfeeding can also make women feel that they have no more control over their bodies. Because their baby’s demands come first, moms have to adapt to a new body image. Desiring to go back to old lifestyle and habits can make moms change their minds in the middle of their breastfeeding journey.
Returning to work can also be a barrier to moms’ breastfeeding goals. There are work-related issues that can prevent women from tending to their jobs with their babies’ welfare in mind. Complications such as short maternity leave, no child care facilities near the office, and lack of private accommodations for breastfeeding women to express or pump breast milk can lead to early weaning. The pressure mothers get from all the adjustments can lead them to resort to formula feeding or mixed feed.
With issues such as these, creating a community of support from the beginning is essential. This can be family members, friends, other parents, and even government assistance programs. Having people you can call on during this adjustment period will undoubtedly help moms find a new sense of balance. Start looking and building this system during and after pregnancy. Don’t feel ashamed - it really takes a village to raise a child! For working women, start looking into work policies from the start and make requests for inclusivity.
Lack of Support
Parenting can be more tedious for moms because of frequent breastfeeding. Exclusively breastfed babies tend to be more attached to their mothers than to their fathers. This leaves mom at a disadvantage because they always have something to do no matter what time of day it is.
Not getting enough support from family can lead to fatigue and depression, so there must be a balanced distribution of work. When moms get less time to take care of themselves, resentment trickles in, and they give up on breastfeeding for more convenient parenting.
Fathers must also take part by getting up during night time so that moms will also have a chance to get adequate sleep. Changing diapers, sanitizing bottles, or running errands can be a big help, too. Often these support issues aren’t discussed before pregnancy. It is silently assumed the other parent will naturally fill in the gap, but it must be clearly spoken about before and after birth as adjustments will always need to be made. Single parents must try to also find support as early as possible as well.
The Public Eye
Breastfeeding in public is another issue. Some places discourage breastfeeding if it isn’t within secluded areas. There are also instances when mothers stop or leave because store or restaurant owners feel embarrassed whenever women breastfeed in their places. The stigma causes an invisible barrier that limits the movement of mothers. It makes them more reluctant to continue breastfeeding their infants.
Some countries regard breasts to be sexually suggestive as well. So, even when moms want to nurture their children in public, they tend to become an object of lust and reproach. This creates discomfort and encourages hiding when breastfeeding in public.
Remember, you have rights regarding breastfeeding in public, so be sure to look them up. Plan what you want to say in case there are any objections, or you can also choose places that support public breastfeeding. You can also consider using a cover.
There are many more reasons why women decide not to breastfeed. However, being a parent means making tough choices, and often this means choosing what may be best for our child at our expense.
Of course, this is not always the truth of the matter, such as with a medical condition. Still, as we learn more about the benefits of breastfeeding, it’s important to keep the advantages for our child at the forefront of our decision making.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Nadia Rumbolt
Nadia Rumbolt is a mom of many trades, including creative writing, blogging, van life, minimalism, veganism, the beach, nature, and the occult.