When Breastfeeding is Not Appropriate

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newborn baby breastfeeding


There is a preponderance of evidence that breastfeeding is healthier for mom and baby alike. Organizations from the World Health Organization (WHO) to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) have conducted study after study and released dozens of statements outlining the health benefits of breastfeeding.

Obviously, if you can breastfeeding your baby, you should. There are, however, a few situations in which breastfeeding is not appropriate. Your doctor or health care professional may recommend that you not breastfeed in the following situations:

  • Serious illness. Some types of illness can be transmitted to your baby through your breast milk. Other illnesses can cause your milk to lack the nutrition it would normally carry. In even more cases, the medications you may need to treat your illness can be harmful to your baby if you are breastfeeding. Most illness will not prohibit you from breastfeeding and your doctor will inform you if you have a medical condition which precludes breastfeeding.
  • Infections. Some types of infections, such as HIV or tuberculosis, can make it dangerous to breastfeed your baby. Note:Other infections, like Hepatitis C, will not generally prevent you from breastfeeding.
  • Alcohol or drugs. Most doctors recommend foregoing alcohol and drugs while you are breastfeeding. Some doctors allow for small servings of alcoholic beverages if they are timed far enough away from feedings. If you drink alcohol or use any drugs and aren’t able to give them up while you are breastfeeding, consult your doctor regarding whether you should continue to breastfeed.
  • Breast surgery. If you’ve had breast augmentation or breast reduction surgery, you may not be able to breastfeed due to a reduction in your ability to produce breast milk. Check with your doctor. Even if you don’t produce enough milk to provide for all of your baby’s sustenance, you may be able to augment breastfeeding with formula.
  • Depression. If you suffer from severe or postpartum depression, your doctor may advise you to forego breastfeeding because of possible side effects from medication prescribed.

If you are unable to breastfeed-for any reason-but want to give your baby the health benefits of breast milk, you may still have options. Many communities operate breast milk banks. Mothers who produce enough breast milk pump their milk, donating to the milk bank for the babies of mothers who can’t breastfeed.

If you are unable to breastfeed and a community milk bank is not a possibility, you should never feel badly about bottle feeding your baby. Breast milk is healthiest, but baby formula also has the basic nutrients babies need to grow and thrive.

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This entry was posted in Breastfeeding.


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