When Breast Isn't Best: Signs for When to Avoid Breastfeeding

Knowledgeable & compassionate pregnancy physicians at Gainesville's All About Women MD discuss which conditions limit breastfeeding, and which ones don't.

If you're an expectant mother considering breastfeeding, you may think you need to be in perfect health or have no vices in order to be a good candidate. In fact, there are only a few reasons why a woman can't breastfeed.

We'll examine the rare cases when breastfeeding isn't recommended, as well as other cases in which it’s still okay with the right precautions.

And also learn some of the benefits of breastfeeding, and why it’s the best option for your newborn if it’s available to you.

When Not To Breastfeed

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), breastfeeding is NOT recommended if one of the following conditions is present:

  1. 1. If the infant is diagnosed with galactosemia, a rare genetic metabolic disorder.
  2. 2. If the mother:
    • Is infected with HIV or is taking antiretroviral medications. An HIV positive mother may transmit HIV to her infant via breast milk.
    • Has active and untreated tuberculosis.
    • Is undergoing certain cancer treatments. Women undergoing chemotherapy treatments that interfere with DNA replication and cell division should not breastfeed. Women receiving radiation therapies though can breastfeed with some interruption.
    • Has an illicit drug dependency.

If one of these conditions applies to you and/or your baby, you can still ensure that you provide proper nutrition and bonding opportunities. Talk with your obstetrician (a.k.a. pregnancy doctor) to make a plan.

When Breastfeeding is Still Okay

A surprising number of conditions still allow for breastfeeding that is safe for both mother and child. You can STILL breastfeed if:

Some Reasons to Consider Breastfeeding

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the World Health Organization continue to maintain that breastfeeding is the optimal source of nutrition for an infant.

Both groups recommend exclusive breastfeeding to the age of six months old, and breastfeeding to a year or beyond in combination with the introduction of solid foods.

The AAP notes that breastfeeding has a number of benefits for both infant and maternal health, including:

Talk With Your Pregnancy Doctor

Breastfeeding is out of the question for only a small minority of new mothers. Most women can be successful in meeting their breastfeeding goals with appropriate support from their pregnancy doctor(s), midwives, lactation consultants, family and workplaces.

To learn more about the basics of breastfeeding and its benefits, read our article Breastfeeding 101 today.

At Gainesville and Lake City's All About Women MD, our dedicated pregnancy physicians and midwives are here to provide compassionate care and guidance for the many decisions that come along with pregnancy and birth, including breastfeeding. Click here to learn more about pregnancy care...

If you have questions or concerns about breastfeeding or about pregnancy and birth in general, don't hesitate to make an appointment with our office today. And please browse our pregnancy care blog and learning center for more on breastfeeding, general prenatal care and much more.

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