The benefits of breastfeeding for both mum and baby are quite numerous. Also, experts recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life. However, while almost all women can breastfeed, there are certain mothers who cannot or should not nurse their children.
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The reasons mums may not be able to breastfeed their babies vary. It may be that a mother can’t produce a healthy breast milk supply, or perhaps she has to take a medication or undergo a medical treatment that isn’t safe during breastfeeding. There are also a few medical conditions that aren’t compatible with breastfeeding. In addition, if baby is born with one of few rare genetic metabolic conditions then breastfeeding may not be possible
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The expectations for new mothers are often overwhelming. Women who can’t or don’t want to breast-feed face emotional difficulty. Every mother and baby is unique, whatever your reasons for not breastfeeding — health, intense discomfort, or unrelenting frustration — Here are a few things you should do:
Give yourself a break
The first order of business is to give yourself a break. “Good parenting is more than breastfeeding,” says Jan Barger, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).
It’s OK to feel angry or sad and to take the time to work through your emotions.
“Mourn your inability to breastfeed,” says Barger. “For some mums, this is a loss.” Avoid telling yourself that you should’ve tried for another day or another feeding.
Talk about your feelings
If you consulted a lactation expert through all your nursing troubles, talk to her. Be honest about your feelings. She will likely offer soothing and consoling words that you should take to heart.
It may also be helpful to talk about your feelings with yor doctor, your spouse, family members or someone you trust. Talk to other mums as well.
Find out about donated breast milk
If your heart is set on feeding your baby breast milk and your child meets certain criteria, you may qualify for donated breast milk from a milk bank. Talk to your baby’s doctor about the possibilities.
Can I still bond with my baby if I don’t breastfeed?
Absolutely. Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to strengthen your connection with your child, but it isn’t the only way.
At feeding time, hold your infant close to you and make eye contact. One client of Barger’s who couldn’t breastfeed ended up bottle-feeding her child as if she were nursing him. She held him in a breastfeeding position and had lots of skin-to-skin contact.
Remember that your relationship with your child won’t be based solely on your ability to nurse him. How you respond when he cries, how often you hold and play with him, and how you are as a parent matter more than how you feed him.
Remember that whether it’s to breastfeed or not, you ultimately need to do what is right for you and your baby