Why It’s Okay If You Can’t Breastfeed
Some mothers feel guilty for not breastfeeding. With campaigns like "breast is best" everywhere, the pressure presses in even further. If you can’t breastfeed for any reason, this article is here to support you! Here are some of the reasons a woman may not be able to breastfeed and why these reasons are valid.
Medical Related Conditions
Several medical conditions make it hard or impossible for mothers to breastfeed, even if they want to. Let’s discuss a few of them.
Hypoplasia of the breast, or Insufficient Glandular Tissue (IGT), occurs due to abnormal development of the mammary glands and tissue. Women with this condition often have a low breast milk supply.
Breast Reduction Surgery or Breast Augmentation
Having a breast reduction surgery, or breast augmentation also puts a woman at risk of low breast milk supply. Breast tissue contains ducts and glands that are removed during surgery.
Due to the medications used and the radioactive elements in chemotherapy, a mother must stop breastfeeding until their system is free of these medications and elements.
Medications That Pass Into Breastmilk
This brings us to other medications that can be risky. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that most immunizations and prescriptions are ideal while nursing. Still, some mood-altering drugs and antithyroid medicines can harm your baby. Over the counter drugs, herbal teas, vitamins, and supplements can also be harmful.
Low Milk Supply
Several conditions are responsible for low milk supply, and it is common in many women. Some people fix it through various techniques, while other mothers simply cannot get their breasts to produce milk no matter what they do.
Some of the reasons for low milk supply include:
Waiting for too long before breastfeeding your baby
A long gap between breastfeeding times
An ineffective latch
Use of certain medications (as covered above)
High blood pressure
A severe illness like anemia and heart failure might prevent a mother from breastfeeding their baby. Certain diseases, like HIV, can be transferred to babies. It’s important to discuss your health conditions with your doctor to determine the best course for breastfeeding, no matter which medical condition you’re experiencing.
When You Shouldn't Breastfeed A Baby
There are a few lifestyle choices and psychological reasons that hinder breastfeeding as well. Here are a few:
Drugs and Alcohol Addiction
If you're addicted to drugs or alcohol, you shouldn't breastfeed a baby because of the risks of these substances getting into your breast milk. The result of breastfeeding while addicted can be severe.
You can smoke 95 minutes before nursing, but it isn't recommended. Nicotine and other chemical content could be harmful to your baby. The best option is to stop smoking until you're done breastfeeding your baby.
Anxiety or Postpartum Depression
Studies have shown anxiety, postpartum depression, or any other psychological condition can negatively affect you and your baby. Stress causes cortisol levels to rise, which reduces one’s milk supply.
Trauma and Triggers
According to Pandora's project, some people that experienced rape and sexual assault in the past may experience difficult emotions during breastfeeding. Even if it might be hard talking about these experiences, these women are still encouraged to speak to a midwife, lactation consultant, or a doctor. With this, they may be able to get the appropriate resources and help needed to breastfeed.
Your Baby Is Allergic To Something In Your Milk
This might happen on rare occasions, and it may even be hard to detect, but it happens. A baby could be allergic or sensitive to something in the mother's milk.
You Simply Do Not Want To Breastfeed
Making the decision not to breastfeed is a personal one, and you do not have to explain your choice to anyone. If you choose not to breastfeed for personal reasons, you know what's best for you as a woman and a mother.
Feeding Options When Breastfeeding Is Not Possible
No matter what medical or personal decision you’re experiencing that’s preventing you from breastfeeding, there are options for you! Here are a few to consider:
Pumping and Formula Feeding
If you have trouble producing enough milk, you may want to try pumping and supplementing with formula. All you need is a good breast pump that’ll enable you to pump, fill and store enough milk for your baby. On days when you are low or can’t supply breast milk, formula feeding can help.
The mantra, "breast is best", has helped many modern mothers appreciate the benefits of breast milk. Unfortunately, it has also contributed to making mothers feel shame when they cannot breastfeed due to reasons beyond their control (including it being a personal decision). While breastfeeding helps in the development of your child, there are many alternative solutions.
Being a parent comes with a lot of decision making power. With each choice, we must assess the pros and challenges for ourselves as parents and for our child. Breastfeeding is one of those choices. No one should pressure mothers into guilt for not breastfeeding because we never know what it took to get to such a choice, be it a medical, personal, or psychological reason.
We all have to right to choose. If you're able to do it, breastfeeding is an excellent feeding method. Ultimately, it isn't for everyone, and it's no one's business if you choose not to for any reason.
How KeaBabies Supports Your Choice
Our various products support breastfeeding, bottle feeding, pumping, and a combination of feeding approaches. So, no matter what your choice may be, you’ll find use for nursing pads, burp cloths, and bandana or silicone bibs.
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.