If you’re a new mom or about to become one, I’m sure you’ve heard dozens of reasons why you should breastfeed your baby. Though I love being able to breastfeed my own kids, I recognize there are times when it really isn’t the best thing for you or your baby.
Before you jump on me, let me explain.
With each of my boys, like many other new moms, I was strongly advised to breastfeed no matter what it took and so I did…at least I tried. With my first son, I failed miserably. On my second, things got a little better but, it still didn’t really work out.
Both times I felt like a failure. The best thing for my sons was supposed to be my milk and I failed to provide that for them.
By my third, I’d decided I would try breastfeeding, but, if it wasn’t working out, I’d gladly move to formula. Ironically enough, that was the first time I truly got to understand how special breastfeeding can be and how close it brings you to your new baby. I ended up breastfeeding him for months and enjoyed every minute of it.
I Never Should Have Breastfed My Baby
Getting back to my experience with my first son, let me tell you where things went wrong and why I never should have tried to breastfeed him in the first place.
I was a first time mom struggling to get through school and I made several rookie mistakes that I’m sure contributed to my inability to feed my son.
I started by trying to figure out how to get my son to latch onto my breast. It sounds easy enough but, when it came time to feed him I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure it out. Eventually we’d get it, but the longer it took, the more anxious I’d get and that only made my son anxious as well.
As a mom, you’ll find that your newborn can sense what you’re feeling. If you’re happy and calm, they’re more likely to be happy and calm as well. If you’re anxious and on edge, you’re baby will also be anxious and more prone to crying.
Less than a week after my son was born, I was back at school. I had no pump, no formula, and no way to feed my baby other than to breastfeed him. That meant I had to be on a very strict schedule.
I had to time his feedings perfectly so that I could feed him, leave for class, then come back right when it was time for his next feeding. If you’ve ever breastfed a new baby before, I’m sure you can appreciate how difficult that would be.
Each session can be anywhere from 20-60 minutes before your baby has had enough to eat.
When I fed my son, I was always anxiously watching the clock worried about being late. He quickly got to the point where he too was on edge and anxious every time he ate and, within a day or two, he flat out refused to eat.
He was happier not eating at all. Every feeding started out with me anxiously trying to feed him and him screaming in protest for up to half an hour before he’d finally give up and eat.
This only made me more anxious and I’ll be honest, I cried alot. I cried every single time I fed him. I hated breastfeeding. I felt like I’d failed as a mom. I dreaded when anybody other than my sister came over to visit because, if it happened to be during my son’s feeding time, I knew they’d think I was a horrible mom when they heard him screaming.
After a week of this, I broke down and purchased two pumps. The first was a manual pump and the second was a small electric one. I was very excited thinking all my problems would be solved but, upon trying the pumps, I found that the manual one was so painful I just couldn’t do it.
The electric pump was much better but, it was a cheap model that never pulled more than an ounce of milk from each side so I pumped what I could and fed it to my son through a bottle then was back to breastfeeding.
If anything, this made things worse. My son loved drinking from the bottle and ate rather quickly, but, once the bottle was gone and I went back to nursing, he’d get so frustrated and angry. He refused to eat any more.
This went on for another week until I found that at almost three weeks postpartum, my milk supply was practically gone. I had no choice other than to put my son on formula.
Friends and family constantly questioned my decision to do so, but, for the first time since I had my son, we were both happy. It was the best decision I’d made since he was born. Looking back, I should have done that from the very beginning.
If my son didn’t want to breastfeed, I shouldn’t have tried to force it on him.
It doesn’t matter what those around you say. As a mom, you know what’s best for your baby. If you feel like breastfeeding is the best choice, by all means, do that. If not, don’t feel pressured, or feel like you’ll have failed as a mom if you can’t breastfeed your son or daughter.
That was my experience with my son, but there are a number of other reasons new moms may find that the best thing for their baby is not to breastfeed.
6 Reasons Not to Breastfeed Your Baby
Your Baby Refuses to Breastfeed
Every baby has to learn how to breastfeed and some have a harder time than others. Some will pick it up immediately while others, like my son, will refuse to breastfeed no matter what you do.
This takes a lot out of you and your little one. It puts you both on edge and can ruin a time that is supposed to be special for both of you.
If you find that your baby refuses to breastfeed, try pumping and feeding him/her with a bottle instead. This way, your son or daughter will still be getting your milk but, neither of you have the stress that can come with trying to breastfeed a baby that doesn’t want to.
Your Baby is Failing to Thrive
When it works out, I love breastfeeding. It really can do a lot to bring you closer to your baby. However, one thing that is a little frustrating is you never know how much your baby is eating.
You don’t know if they’re getting enough to eat and there are cases in which babies fail to thrive because they get very little milk during breastfeeding, they grow weaker, and they get to the point where they don’t have the strength to eat.
In some extreme cases, newborns have even died from dehydration because they weren’t getting enough to eat while they were breastfeeding and their mother didn’t realize it.
If you feel like you’re baby is failing to thrive, or have any question in your mind about if he/she is getting enough to eat, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Use a pump instead or put him/her on formula so you can know without a doubt that they’re getting enough to eat.
Your Schedule Doesn’t Permit You to Breastfeed
There are times when your schedule really doesn’t permit you to breastfeed. I feel like this was my biggest problem with my son.
If you have the luxury of staying home from school or work to take care of your baby, you’re very lucky, but that isn’t the case for everyone.
Everyone expects that new moms will take a few weeks off after they have their baby but at the same time they’ll keep up with their expenses. If you fail to do so, you might find yourself being accused of not putting your baby first.
However, in today’s world, it’s quite common for moms to be in a situation that really doesn’t permit them to stay home with their newborn and whether they want to breastfeed or not, they really don’t have a choice. If it’s a question between breastfeeding your baby and getting your bills paid, you need to have a home for you and your baby.
My son and I would have been better off if I’d put him straight on formula instead of going three miserable weeks trying to breastfeed him on a schedule that really didn’t permit it. In the end, he was on formula anyway and instead of enjoying my first three weeks as a mom I was a nervous wreck.
You’re Sick or Have Something Your Baby Can Get Through Your Milk
When you breastfeed your baby, everything you eat, your baby also eats. If you get sick, there’s a chance your baby can get whatever you have by drinking your milk.
If you are sick and are worried about it affecting your baby, consult your doctor to see what the best options are for both of you.
Your Baby is Unable to Breastfeed
Some babies, like my first, can breastfeed but refuse to do so; other babies really can’t breastfeed.
I found this to be the case with my second son. He latched on fine and was able to eat. Honestly, he was happy to breastfeed, but within minutes of starting, everything he ate would come back up all over both of us.
Let me tell you, it was quite a shock for him and he’d get so frustrated every time it happened. I’d clean us both up and go back to feeding him and he’d do it again. If I let him eat for more than five minutes at a time without burping him, he’d throw up everything he ate then scream.
When I did stop feeding him to burp him, he’d feel like he wasn’t done and scream because I didn’t let him keep eating. He always had a hard time getting enough to eat because he rarely had a feeding where most of what he ate didn’t come back up.
Finally, I decided to just pump and feed him with a bottle and quickly found that even with a bottle he couldn’t keep down more than an ounce or two at a time without burping or he’d throw up. At least with the bottle though I could see when he’d had enough and I needed to stop and burp him.
If your son or daughter is unable to breastfeed, don’t feel like you’ve failed. Every baby is different and what works great for one baby won’t work at all for another.
The most important thing is to make sure your baby is getting what he/she needs whether that’s through breastfeeding, pumping, or formula.
Breastfeeding Makes You & Your Baby Anxious or Uncomfortable
Many moms love breastfeeding. I know I did my 3rd time around. Others just don’t like it for one reason or another even if their baby eats fine.
If you find that you really dislike breastfeeding and it makes you anxious, don’t keep doing so just because you feel like you have to or you’ll have failed as a mom if you don’t.
There are other ways to connect with your baby and help him/her to have the best they can have. The most important thing is to do what you feel is right for you and your baby.
What do you think of these reasons not to breastfeed? Have you found any of these to be the case for you? Let me know by leaving a comment below!