10 Reasons You May Not Be Able to Breastfeed

A ton of us who have newborns intend to breastfeed. I mean at this point in time you’d have to live on the moon to have not heard about all the benefits; breastfeeding will stave off disease, obesity and judgmental looks. And of course breast fed babies are ready for Ivy league schools by 6th grade, never get ear infections, and it’s been scientifically proven that breast fed babies don’t need Botox until they’re at least fifty. So you’d have to be crazy to not try to make it work right? Well sure! I agree that breast feeding is healthy, beneficial, and natural and you should be free to do it on a plane, Starbucks, or the top of the Empire State Building to your heart’s content.

But although I absolutely celebrate other people breastfeeding with joy in my heart, I also want to point out that there are some valid reasons not to — despite the fact that many experts will tell you there is no challenge that can’t be overcome. Hey, maybe it’s a pain in the boob and you don’t want to overcome. Here now is a list of reasons you may not be able to breastfeed.

  • You’ve had breast surgery 1 of 11

     Here again, some will say you can still do it. I had breast reduction surgery and figured I could do it anyway. I'd read a number of websites that told me I could and I believed it so no one was more surprised than I to find out it wasn't so simple. A lot of my ducts had been jacked up and no longer worked leaving me with a much smaller milk supply. The lactation consultant I visited between crying jags told me I could still do it but I'd have to supplement. This was music to my ears and I took it very seriously and tried for another 14 hours before I gave up and exclusively formula fed. But it worked out because Elby's only had 27 or 28 nasty ear infections!


    Image: Flickr

  • You adopted 2 of 11

    I know what you're thinking: "Couldn't I take hormones and bring in my milk supply?" I don't know. I guess so. But why? You're already doing a great thing by adopting. Slow down. Don't make the rest of us look bad. Anyway, what if you're a dude? Then I'm going to have to say no. I don't think we're advanced enough as a society that a man can take medicine to make him lactate. But if he can, then he should also take medicine to make him menstruate so he can see what that's like, too! 


    Image: Flickr

  • Your baby’s latch is bad 3 of 11

    No baby has a bad latch you say? Well some do! Some just don't grasp it or they are "tongue tied" (which can be fixed). While these aren't reasons to give up on breast feeding if you want to continue, they are challenges that may make it very difficult and you may decide that you don't want to push through. And contrary to what some believe, that doesn't make you a monster.



    Image: Flickr

  • Mastitis 4 of 11

     Yes, you can absolutely breastfeed through mastitis. Totally. And maybe you shouldn't let recurrent bouts of mastitis coupled with bloody, scab ridden nipples and fever and chills stop you from putting the baby on the breast but really, who could blame you if you didn't want to keep calm and carry on? In fact, who could blame you if you punched someone in the face for saying "keep calm and carry on?" Not me. I'm going to stay out of it.


    Image: Flickr

  • It’s affecting bonding 5 of 11

     When I was having so much trouble with the ol' jacked up ducts issue in my quest to breastfeed, it was affecting my bonding. Every hour when it was time to put my baby back on my booby I would be filled with dread and angst. Those are the perfect emotions to help you feel close to your new baby right? When I admitted to my pediatrician what was happening he told me that I might actually enjoy feeding my daughter if I stopped breast feeding. I have to say that as soon as I really let go of the guilt, I had the best experience ever looking into my girl's sweet face while I cuddled her and fed her some yummy yummy Enfamil. On the flip side, I did have to take a second mortgage out on my house to keep my kid in formula.


    Image: Flickr

  • You’ve got a preemie 6 of 11

    Lots of preemies can breastfeed just fine. One of mine couldn't. Her suck/swallow wasn't developed enough and it was too tiring for her to do more than try for a few minutes for fun but she got her nutrients from a bottle. She needed a bottle, like, to live! Now, sure, that bottle could have contained breast milk and I tried like a mother to get her some. I hauled the hospital grade pump home and tried for hours and hours rarely getting even a Nyquil sized cup full -more like a few drops at a time. I brought it in dutifully for a few weeks until I couldn't even get that and I had to stop. Did I feel horrible about it? Yes. But in the end, once again, I needed to bond with these beautiful babies and not make it about me and my milk supply.

  • You just don’t want to 7 of 11
    Elby & Stef at six weeks

    Yes I know that Gisele Bundchen thinks it should the law that all women have to breastfeed for at least six months but shockingly I disagree. Breastfeed if you want to and don't breastfeed if you don't want to. It's really none of anyone's business.

  • You have low milk production 8 of 11

    Some people just don't make a lot of milk! There are supplements you can take to help increase milk production. Fenugreek makes the whole house smell like a work out shirt that hasn't been washed in weeks and there are other prescription medications that can help but isn't it possible that some women's bodies just weren't built for breastfeeding? When I had my twins, I had a friend who was making gallons of milk while I was producing those few precious drops. She graciously offered to give me some of her milk for my babies but the hospital said no street milk. Oh well. Next time.

  • Your baby isn’t gaining enough weight 9 of 11

     This could be due to a lot of reasons but if you are breast feeding exclusively and your baby isn't gaining weight you may want to supplement and you shouldn't feel bad about it! Yes, you can go to lactation consultants and get to the bottom of the problem and if you want to, you should! But if you have given it the old college try and your baby is not thriving, it's not wrong to give your baby formula. Bonus: they will probably instantly cry less.


    Image: Flickr

  • You take medication 10 of 11

    Some medications are contraindicated for breastfeeding while others are not proven safe or unsafe either way. Sure you could go off your meds and hallucinate that the area rug is calling you a whore if it means being able to breastfeed, but I certainly won't fault you for staying sane and giving the baby a little formula.



    Image: Flickr

  • There’s a Zombie Apocalypse 11 of 11

    I know that breastfeeding should be the priority but it just seems like if there's a zombie apocalypse you're going to wanna get the hell out of town. Are you really going to just sit on your couch and pump? Get out of the house! Pack your pump but seriously, zombies are coming and they want to eat your brains! RUN!



    Image: Scott Beale


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Article Posted 3 years Ago

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