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Why Can't Some Women Breastfeed?

The physical and psychological benefits of breastfeeding abound for infants and mothers, according the American Academy of Pediatrics. It’s a loving, natural choice for many moms-to-be, but for some moms, breastfeeding isn’t an option. A variety of issues and concerns can cause a mom to discontinue or forgo breastfeeding. The challenges associated with your pregnancy and breastfeeding are unique for every mom, so consult your doctor to determine the best choice for you and your precious little one.

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Problems With Discomfort

The physical and psychological benefits of breastfeeding abound for infants and mothers, according the American Academy of Pediatrics. It’s a loving, natural choice for many moms-to-be, but for some moms, breastfeeding isn’t an option. A variety of issues and concerns can cause a mom to discontinue or forgo breastfeeding. The challenges associated with your pregnancy and breastfeeding are unique for every mom, so consult your doctor to determine the best choice for you and your precious little one.

Health Concerns

HIV-positive moms who receive medication early in their pregnancy have a less than 2-percent risk of delivering an HIV-positive baby, says WomensHealth.gov. This is good news if you are an HIV-positive mom. However, the risk for transmitting HIV to your baby through breastfeeding exists. HIVpositive moms have the option of providing human breast milk for their infant through a milk bank if they prefer to avoid baby formula. In addition to HIV, other health concerns preclude breastfeeding your baby. Don’t breastfeed if you have untreated, active tuberculosis, or human T-cell lymphotropic virus Type 1or Type 2. These serious health concerns merit the attention of your doctor. You and your precious baby benefit when you take proactive measures to safeguard your physical health.

Problems Related to Infants

Some infants present challenges to breastfeeding at birth. Birth defects, such as a cleft palate or cleft lip, can block an infant’s efforts to establish a good latch, and premature infants may lack a sufficient sucking reflex to breastfeed. However, these infants can receive the benefits of their mom’s milk through expressed milk. Infants born with a severe case of gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, may fail to gain weight, lose weight or experience episodes of gagging. This may present obstacles to breastfeeding.

Medications

The use of any illicit drug eliminates breastfeeding as a healthy, safe choice for your baby. Most prescription drugs pose no risk to the safety of breast milk, but there are exceptions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Examples of these drugs are cancer chemotherapy drugs such as antimetabolites, and antiretroviral medications. Radiation treatment usually requires a temporary interruption in breastfeeding. It’s crucial to talk to your doctor about all medications before planning to breastfeed to protect your baby’s health.

Complications From Surgery

Previous surgical procedures to augment, reduce or remove a lump can determine a mom’s ability to breastfeed her baby. Every case is different, but whether the milk ducts and major nerves are left undamaged can influence the outcome for breastfeeding. Consult the surgeon who performed your surgery. Moms who still have one breast unaffected by surgery can usually breastfeed with no problems.

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Image via James Woodson/Digital Vision/Getty Images

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