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You are here: Home > Baby > Breastfeeding

15 Reasons Why Mom's Can't or Chooses Not to Breastfeed

by Katlyn Joy
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Breast is best, as most everyone knows by now. Human breast milk is the ideal food for babies. However, only half of all moms breastfeed exclusively from birth, and by age 6 months only 17 percent are breastfeeding exclusively.

Since it's best, why do so few women breastfeed their babies? For few, there are valid medical reasons. Here are the reasons as given by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

1. Galactosemia. If the infant is born with this rare genetic metabolic disease, breastfeeding is impossible. Many states test for this disorder, but early diagnosis is important. It is imperative that those with the condition avoid all milk products throughout life. The rate among white infants is 1 in 60,000, according to the US National Library of Medicine.

2. Mothers who have HIV. The disease can be transferred easily to the infant through breast milk.

3. Mothers with active and untreated tuberculosis. This is highly contagious, but for mothers who have been treated and no longer infectious, it is safe to nurse their babies.

4. Mothers have cancer and are taking chemotherapy drugs or other drugs toxic to baby. These medications can cross into the breast milk to the baby.

5. Mother is undergoing radiation treatment. This is a temporary situation, so moms can breastfeed once the radiation treatments have ended.

6. Mother has a severe illness such as sepsis that may be carried to the baby.

7. Mother is infected with hepatitis B or C. If it's hepatitis B, the baby should be vaccinated within 48 hours of birth. If it's hepatitis C, according to the Children's Health Network, avoid nursing if nipples are cracked or bleeding.

8. If mother has herpes virus and has related sores on her nipples. However, breastfeeding may resume once the sores have healed.

9. Mother is infected with human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I or II.

10. Mother uses illicit drugs such as cocaine, other hard drugs, or uses marijuana, drinks alcohol or smokes cigarettes and is unable to stop. In such cases, mothers should seek treatment whether or not she is nursing for her own health and her child's welfare however.

5 Reasons Why Women Don't Breastfeed

1. The biggest reason: 31 percent of women stated, "My baby had difficulty nursing." Most new moms do have some initial difficulties in the early weeks, and if they don't know it will get better, or know how to get help, they are likely to give up due to latch on problems, nipple pain or concerns about whether they are doing it correctly. According to a national survey, up to 47 percent of women were not told of breastfeeding resources available to them while in the hospital after giving birth.

2. Bottle feeding is perceived as easier, is the second most common reason. For those who have breastfed successfully, this one seems highly arguable. Breastfeeding requires no bottles, no midnight runs to the store, certainly less prep time and no cash outlay. This again would seem tied to how prepared and informed new mothers are about breastfeeding options.

3. It was tough to get started nursing the baby, is tied as the second reason women give for not breastfeeding. First timers must admit, the early weeks are indeed the hardest weeks. Your nipples may seem to be ready to fall off, depending on your particular sensitivity, and your milk supply isn't established yet so you may experience painful swelling or engorgement at times. Once more, better information and preparation as well as support seems the answer to this common problem.

4. I didn't get the support I needed. This next most common reason cited seems to combine all the earlier responses. These women just realized this as the root of the problem with nursing their babies. Hospitals make it far easier to bottle feed, handing out free formula, coupons for formula, supplementing with formula or water, offering newborns pacifiers before baby has learned to deal with mama's nipples adequately, and don't as a rule actively support breastfeeding or provide new moms with instruction on the nitty-gritty how to's.

5. I knew I wouldn't breastfeed long anyway, as I have to go back to work soon. Working and breastfeeding are definitely more challenging than staying home and nursing. However, should women be given more tips, as easy access to breast pumps and other supplies as they are formula, the numbers would likely change.


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