According to Baby Center, not only does breastfeeding provide all the nutrients a baby needs their first six months of life, it also helps mothers in many ways. Mothers who breastfeed their babies benefit by burning an extra 500 calories, relaxing as their body releases oxytocin while they breastfeed, and even heal faster after delivering their baby.
Babies who are nursed also benefit by having better teeth and jaw development, better protection against infections, and milk that is always available at the correct temperature. Breastfeeding is also known to be good for the environment and for the wallets of new parents.
But what if not everyone can breastfeed? At least 2% of mothers won't produce enough milk to be able to nurse their baby. Some doctors even suggest that breastfeeding isn't right for every mom.
To top it off, some people have misconceptions about nursing and may chide mothers who attempt to breastfeed their babies in public. However, there is a lot of insensitivity when dealing with mothers who can't nurse. Dealing with the guilt of being unable to breastfeed must be extremely difficult.
In order to give people a better idea about what this might look like, we've compiled a few small stories about the stigma of being unable to breastfeed.
20 The mom that was shamed for using formula
According to an article on Parenting, Andrea dreads shopping for baby formula because of how others look at her. Another mom saw her with baby formula in her basket and exclaimed that the formula would make her baby sick.
Andrea lives in Rockville, MD and mentioned that it feels as though everyone breastfeeds. It's important to note that even though breastmilk is hailed as best, only about 65% of new American moms actually nurse their baby. Bottle-feeding is more common than many people think!
19 The mom that was scolded for breastfeeding in public
Let's suppose you're a new mom and your baby gets hungry at Target. You'll, of course, feed your baby especially considering that most adults are understanding about such situations. Right?
That's not what happened to Jamie Maher. She was trying to feed her hungry baby at Target, but a man heckled her as she was doing this. According to USA Today, Target staff and other shoppers came to her assistance. One bystander even made sure Maher knew she has the right to breastfeed in public.
18 Breastfeeding can be painful for some women
Motherhood is paved with joy and great expectations, but some aspects of it may be uncomfortable or painful for some moms. CDC data states that while many moms try to breastfeed, not all of them are able to keep it up.
In a USA Today article, Regina Maria Roig-Romero, chair of the board of International Lactation Consultant Examiners mentioned that many new moms are concerned about their milk supply. Roig-Romero also mentioned that latching can cause pain. Plus, some women may experience cracked parts and may not always know there is help available. That's a lot to deal with!
17 Two words: lactation failure
A small number of women will experience something called lactation failure. This is a true inability to produce enough breast milk. There is usually a root cause for this problem, and some women can increase their milk supply with proper treatment.
When Charlene Hedge spoke to Baby Center she explained that she expected to be able to breastfeed her baby. Hedge decided it would be best not to keep trying. It's important to note that those with lactation failure may be able to breastfeed their baby part-time. New moms may do everything they can and decide that breastfeeding is no longer for them. That's okay too.
16 Not everyone's baby latches at first
As mentioned to Tonic, Amber did everything she could to breastfeed her child despite the fact that no one in her family did this before. Armed with information, she thought it would be a cinch since breastfeeding is something women's bodies are equipped to do, right?
After giving it a try for seven weeks, she and her husband decided that breastfeeding wasn't going to happen for her. Amber explained that she's felt a lot better after using baby formula for both of her children.
15 Work, school, and other responsibilities
Some women may be unable to breastfeed because they need to return to school or work quickly after delivering their baby. This could depend on whether or not a new mom can't take unpaid leave because they're the home's main breadwinner, or because they own a business and have other responsibilities.
According to Tonic, Heather chose not to breastfeed because she tried it but it wouldn't work. She says her lactation consultants tried to help her, but she also has a business to look after and breastfeeding was too much additional pressure. This, in addition to the business she runs.
14 Some women previously had a breast reduction surgery
As reported by Baby Gaga, some women can't breastfeed because they've had a breast reduction surgery before having a child. This is because surgery may mean some women require having their nipple reconstructed. This may result in some nerve damage.
In an essay for xoJane, Chelsea Bates wrote about how her own breast reduction surgery made breastfeeding complicated. A midwife explained to Bates that breast reduction surgery changes the breasts too much for some women to exclusively breastfeed their baby. Eventually, Bates changed the way she fed her baby after doing some research.
13 If mom is receiving radiation as a treatment
According to Baby Gaga, cancerous cells can't be passed from mother to child. However, if a woman is getting radiation treatment on both of her breasts, then she can't breastfeed.
The Chicago Tribune's Emily Wax-Thibodeaux recanted her breast cancer experiences and discussed what it took for her to get pregnant. Still, she found that many would consistently scold her without knowing her full story.
Plus, not only does radiation make it unhealthy for a woman to breastfeed. Some women may choose to get mastectomies during their cancer treatment as an alternative. This rules breastfeeding out completely!
12 Lack of support is also a contributing factor
As mentioned in La Leche League, some mothers give up on breastfeeding because they don't feel supported. New moms need to recover from giving birth, to adjust to new routines and may require additional emotional support.
In an interview with Stuff Parenting, new Neesha Mora recalled her experiences after having her baby in Auckland. She felt she needed information about using formula and felt that breastfeeding was being pushed on her. Because she didn't feel supported, she discharged herself after 3 months.
11 Galactosemia could prevent mothers from breastfeeding
In a Q&A, Parents.com explained that galactosemia is a very rare genetic metabolic disorder. It can affect one out of every 30,000 to 60,000 babies and prevents them from being able to process sugars found in all milk—including breastmilk.
Newborns are usually tested for galactosemia as soon as they're born. That's because this disorder can cause a buildup of sugars in infants that could be detrimental to their kidneys, liver, and brain. In order to prevent symptoms, all milk and items that contain galactose must be removed from the infant's diet.
10 Some moms are hesitant to breastfeed if they drink
Some women are dealing with alcoholism as they deal with being a new mom. According to an article in Slate, women who breastfeed may actually feel less tipsy while they consume a drink. However, it's important to be mindful and recognize that an occasional drink isn't the same as dealing with alcoholism.
More than the amount of alcohol that could be passed on to the baby, drinking while nursing is a safety risk. Women could accidentally drop their baby or be unable to tend to their needs.
9 Health Stigma
A report by the World Health Organization states that breast milk is best for children even if the mother is HIV positive. However, outdated guidelines still recommend that HIV-positive mothers shouldn't breastfeed.
Thelma Rawa, an antenatal counselor who was cited in the WHO's report, mentioned that there is confusion about HIV-positive mothers and whether or not they should breastfeed.
This causes new moms not to have the support they need as they nurse their newborns. The use of antiretroviral treatment can now prevent transmission of the HIV virus from mother to child.
8 The baby might be adopted
Breastfeeding USA reports that it's totally possible—and recommended—that mothers breastfeed their newly adopted baby. It turns out there are ways to induce lactation even in women who weren't pregnant.
According to Krista Gray, mothers who adopt a child and want to nurse face some challenges. One such challenge includes not having enough notice of when their baby will arrive, Mothers may also worry about whether or not they will have enough milk. These difficulties may mean an adoptive mother can't breastfeed.
7 For self-care
According to Baby Gaga (and many mothers whose life changed after having children), being a new mother is a significant change that may be accompanied by fear, depression, anxiety, and other feelings.
In an essay for xoJane, Emily B. King wrote about her experiences with depression, anxiety, and how this influenced her choice not to breastfeed. King eventually began taking medication for her depression, and this ruled breastfeeding out. King's story illustrates that some women need to make decisions that work for them and their family. This might mean going against the pressure to breastfeed.
6 Pumping and dumping is time-consuming
Pumping is meant to be a modern solution to feeding one's baby. It allows a mother to breastfeed as they tend to other responsibilities, or when they feel they're producing milk at their best. Like anything else, this doesn't mean it's easy for all women.
Joyce Chen spoke to Cosmopolitan about having to feed her baby formula while also having to pump her breasts. Chen felt that breastfeeding was painful. Pumping turned out to be a better solution for her baby.
5 Dealing with substance problems
Some mothers may be dealing with substance problems during their pregnancy. According to the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare, up to 15% of babies may be exposed to alcohol or narcotics before birth.
Desirae spoke to The Cut about her struggles with substances before pregnancy. Not only that, she was eventually diagnosed with MS, which required her to use pain medication. She used methadone during her pregnancy and this caused her to question whether or not she would breastfeed her third child because of this.
4 Breastfeeding can be stressful
From cracked body parts to problems with latching, and other new mom woes, breastfeeding isn't easy for everyone. Crystal Flebotte spoke to Tonic about the difficulties of breastfeeding.
Flebotte explained that she expected to breastfeed her child as soon as she was born. Still, her daughter wouldn't latch as expected. Being Type-A, Flebotte was frustrated by not having control over this situation, especially when breastfeeding is seen as easy and natural. She decided to pump her breasts for a few months until she called it quits. In her words, "All they need is you."
3 Because breastfeeding prevents some women from bonding with their baby
Lauren, from New Jersey, also discussed her struggle with breastfeeding. According to her statements published in Cosmopolitan, she discussed that breastfeeding felt like a chore after she first gave birth.
She also explained that it was difficult to monitor how much or how little her baby was eating. Coupled with the many restrictions some women must undergo if they wish to breastfeed, these frustrations forced her to quit within two weeks. Her daughter is currently healthy and Lauren expresses that she's comfortable with her decision.
2 Even celebrity moms have to face breastfeeding challenges!
According to an article by Parents.com, Adele once fiercely defended mothers who can't breastfeed shortly after Chef Jamie Oliver said every mother should do it. She then admitted that she was only able to breastfeed about 9 weeks and that some of her friends became depressed when they couldn't measure up.
Not to worry! Other celebrities also discussed their hardships. Chelsea Clinton stated that she began working full-time after maternity leave. This meant getting comfortable pumping in awkward places, such as airport bathrooms.
1 Some moms don't want to breastfeed
Julie Scagell once wrote an essay for The Washington Post about why she decided not to breastfeed. Scagell mentioned that many articles about women who choose to feed their babies formula are often written for a certain audience.
Some women can't nurse even if they try as hard as they can. Plus, pumping breasts is hard work. Despite this, there are few articles addressing women who deliberately choose not to breastfeed. Scagell eventually came to terms with the anxiety she faced and came to terms with her decision. The piece ends it with a poignant saying: choice is a beautiful thing.
Sources: babycenter.com, health.ny.gov, healthyfamiliesbc.ca, verywellfamily.com, parenting.com, usatoday.com, pinterest.cl, huffingtonpost.com, usatoday.com, pinterest.com, cdc.gov, usatoday.com, pinterest.com, babycenter.com, pinterest.com, tonic.com, pinterest.com, shutterstock.com, babygaga.com, xojane.com, radiologyinfo.com, chicagotribune.com, pinterest.com, laleche.org.uk, stuff.co.nz, consejosdevidasaludables.com, parents.com, pinterest.com, slate.com, pinterest.com, who.int, pinterest.com, breastfeedingusa.org, nursingnurture.com, pinterest.com, babygaga.com, xojane.com, pinterest.com, cosmopolitan.com, culturacolectiva.com, ncsacw.samhsa.com, thecut.com, twiniversity.com, huffingtonpost.com, hipertextual.com, parents.com, brethurston.com, karalynnphotography.com, washingtpost.com