Breastfeeding is really great feeding methods for those who are willing and bale to do it. The reality, however, is that there are many women who can't or choose not to breastfeed for various reasons that are really no one's business. But in an effort to expand minds and generate compassion, it's really important to discuss the many reasons a woman can't breastfeed. In doing so, maybe more women can be met with empathy and understanding for their situations and choices, rather than judgement or shame.
The "breast is best" mantra has infiltrated modern motherhood as the benefits of breast milk become more well known. Unfortunately, the pendulum seems to have swung too far in the sense that mothers are made to feel awful when they can't breastfeed. Recently, A mother whose infant died from severe dehydration felt pressured to breastfeed so much that she refused to give him a bottle of formula and didn't notice the signs of his dehydration. She reportedly had six risk factors for failed or delayed milk production.
Her story, and many others like it, are important because they can save lives. They also create a space for people to understand the many reasons a woman can't or shouldn't breastfeed. Here are nine reasons a woman might not be able to breastfeed or chooses not to.
1. They Had Past Breast Surgery
If you've had any type of past breast surgery ,including biopsy, reduction, or augmentation, you could have trouble with low supply. According to What To Expect, in the case of a women who has a reduction, the breast tissue that was removed contained milk glands and ducts. This will likely make breastfeeding challenging if not impossible. As for the other types of surgeries, you may have damage to the glands and ducts, which could lead to issues with breastfeeding in some cases.
2. They Have A Severe Illness
There are certain serious illnesses that prohibit a mother from breastfeeding. According to the aforementioned What To Expect article, a mother with HIV shouldn't breastfeed because the virus can be passed to the child through the milk. Additionally, if a mother has heart disease or severe anemia, breastfeeding should not occur for the sake of the baby's health.
3. They're Undergoing Chemotherapy
According to the Baby Center, a woman undergoing radioactive isotope therapy or chemotherapy must stop breastfeeding until the radioactive elements or medications are completely gone from her body. Additionally, if a woman is having radiation therapy she has the OK to breastfeed, but the radiation could limit milk production.
4. They're On Certain Mood Altering Drugs
Not all mood altering drugs prohibit breastfeeding, but some do, according to What To Expect. It's recommended that you talk to your doctor about any medications you may be taking and how they not only impact your breast milk, but your own alertness while breastfeeding.
5. They Have Low Milk Supply
Many women struggle with bouts of low milk supply. Some can employ certain techniques to help, while others will not be able to fix it. According to the Mayo Clinic, waiting too long to start breastfeeding, not breastfeeding often enough, supplementing, an ineffective latch, and certain medications can cause low milk supply. Additionally, factors such as premature birth, maternal obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes issues could affect milk production.
6. They Are Triggered By It
The thought or act of breastfeeding can trigger difficult emotions for some rape and sexual assault survivors, according to Pandora's Project. Many survivors opt out of breastfeeding without trying, or some try and realize that it can't happen for them, and that is OK.
As hard as it may be, it's recommended that survivors tell their doctor, midwife, doula, nurse, or lactation consultant that they're a survivor. Doing so will help the survivor get the appropriate help and resources she needs for her breastfeeding journey, whether it is breastfeeding or not.
7. They Are Dealing With PPD
If a mother is having problems with breastfeeding it may trigger depression. It's not well documented yet by the mainstream medical community, but there are several online threads and personal essays from mothers who believe their issues with breastfeeding triggered depression or postpartum depression making breastfeeding impossible.
8. Their Baby Is Allergic To Something In Their Milk
This one may be hard to diagnose or figure out, but it happens. According to Kelly Mom, a baby could be allergic to something in their mother's milk. Most likely, it's a dairy intolerance, sensitivity, or allergy. If a mother can't seem to figure out what her baby is allergic to in her milk, she may opt to use formula in order to ease her baby's discomfort or symptoms.
9. They Don't Want To
It doesn't matter why a grown-ass woman doesn't want to breastfeed her baby. Let me repeat again for those in the back, it doesn't matter why a mother chooses not to breastfeed. If she doesn't want to breastfeed for any reason at all, that's her business and she sure as hell doesn't have to explain it to anyone.