want to breastfeed but can't

Breastfeeding: Is it for everyone?


Breastfeeding has many advantages. From potentially being as inexpensive as free, to being portable and also being healthy for baby AND for mom, there also has to be some reason that it isn’t something every woman who wants to breastfeed is able to do. Is it entirely because of Damn Nestle and marketing of breast milk substitutes?

Or, is is it because more women don’t have access to affordable breastfeeding support to make it happen?

When it comes to breastfeeding goals, here I talk about a woman’s own goal for breastfeeding. It isn’t the CDC or AAP, or WHO. Those goals are national and international goals, which, as an aggregate save lives. But, as a pregnant first time mom, should there be support for women to breastfeed if that is what they intend to do?

breastfeeding as long as they intended
Why are 60% of women not breastfeeding as long as they desired or intended? Why is little being done to change that?

According to the CDC, 76.5 of babies in the US are “ever” breastfed. This is pretty close to the goals that women have – around 80 percent of women surveyed during pregnancy indicate they began breastfeeding (source American Academy of Pediatrics). Many women also plan to continue to breastfeed, but only 37.7 are exclusively breastfed for 3 months, which is half the halfway point for exclusive breastfeeding the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation. Again, that’s a recommendation, not a goal that women have individually. But that means somewhere in those first 12 or so weeks, many women are finding obstacles to breastfeeding. While the study excluded those who didn’t indicate if they met their own goals, of those who did answer, they found that 60% (n = 706) said that they did not breastfeed as long as they desired.

You know damn well they make drugs so men can continue to have sex multiple times a day when they’re 80 years old (as long as their doctor clears it), and Obama care says it has to be covered. But, they can’t increase the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative or support more IBCLC?  Heck I’m still wondering if it is still the case that many state insurance plans have paid for viagra for sex offenders. (I’m still trying to find out if that still happens, I know in Michigan it doesn’t. If anyone knows, please add a link in the comments).

Benefits of Breastfeeding

There are many benefits to breastfeeding. Including, both long-term and short term benefits for mom and baby. Source: http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/Life-stages/maternal-and-newborn-health/news/news/2015/08/who-european-region-has-lowest-global-breastfeeding-rates

Recently, The Lancet published a paper which indicated that: breastfeeding to a near universal level could prevent 823,000 annual deaths in children younger than 5 years and 20,000 annual deaths from breast cancer. If you listen to a troll out there, says this isn’t actually true, but honestly, if this were a for-profit item, you know business would be all over the push to make it mandatory. LIVES COULD BE SAVED DAMN IT! Babies, think of the babies. But, very few people make money off of breastfeeding (save bottle and pump manufacturers who got those covered under Obama care), so those 843,000 lives don’t matter when it comes to mandates.

But, I’m not for mandates. At all, ever.

Instead, I’m wondering what we need to do as a society to help women meet their goals, and why we aren’t removing barriers for women and children.

Long-term health benefits for mothers who breastfeed:

  • reduced risks for breast and ovarian cancers and obesity

Benefits for breastfed infants

  • reduced risks for diarrhoea and respiratory infections;
  • protection against risk for obesity;
  • protective effect on the incidence of noncommunicable diseases, notably childhood obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus;
  • higher IQ; and
  • reduced risk for allergies

If your goal was to breastfeed, but you ended up having a cesarean and recovery took a while, it could impact early breastfeeding. It could impact your milk coming in.

If your goal was to breastfeed, but the hospital kept the baby in the nursery and didn’t allow rooming-in, it could impact early skin to skin, which helps your milk come in. That could impact your ability to breastfeed early on.

If your goal was to breastfeed, but you had to go back to work to cover bills, it could impact your ability to breastfeed.

If your goal was to breastfeed, but you were on medications that were contraindicated to breastfeeding, it could effect your ability to breastfeed.

If your goal was to breastfeed, but you were given samples of breastmilk alternatives at the OB’s office, samples sent to you unexpectedly, samples were given at your birth class, samples were given at your pediatricians’ interview, samples were given at the hospital tour… and then you were sent home from the hospital with more… and you were tired and worried about weight gain, I can see why anyone would be tempted to start using some of the formula.

But, why isn’t society looking for alternatives for mothers to reach their goals?

But like dieting, which I’m not so good at, I think that those temptations do no good. If you’re on a diet, do you keep the foods you avoid in your house? Would you get angry if someone said “keep these donuts around just in case?” Hello!

Do what you gotta do, mama. Meet your goals, not someone else’s. You need not be pressured into nursing until college. But if you have decided you want to breastfeed, then that is something you should be able to do. But don’t let the multi-billion dollar baby food industry tell you that breastfeeding isn’t something you wanna do.

In the mean time, if you want to breastfeed, get support. Find a local La Leche League. Find a group of moms who’ve been able to nurse. Read KellyMom.com. Check books out from the library, but don’t let the samples you’re bombarded with be the reason you don’t meet the goal you have.

And, if for some reason, it doesn’t work out. Don’t beat yourself up either.

What do you think impacts a woman’s ability to reach their goal?

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  1. I think one of the biggest things that impact new mothers is not having a knowledgable support system. Breastfeeding takes a lot of energy. It is hard to have to do it all yourself. A bottle fed baby can be fed by anyone, but a breastfed baby can not. We need to educate the new mother’s support system with what they can do to help. I did not start pumping until my son was over one month old for fear of nipple confusion. When I finally did, I could not pump enough to keep him fed, but he seemed to be able to get enough when he breastfed. It was very discouraging. I am still not sure what I could have done about that. It seemed like he was always breastfeeding, so I was never able to build up a supply. This really took a toll on me, because I never was able to get away and recharge. I am not sure, if this is what you are looking for. My son and I still have a breastfeeding relationship and he is three years old, but early on there was a lot of doubt. Now, I really do not know when or how I should wean him.

  2. From my own experience with breastfeeding, a lot of the healthcare professionals I dealt with seemed to be really uneducated about breastfeeding. When my daughter was first born, she had a horrible latch and none of the doctors or nurses had any input on how to correct it. There was A lactation consultant on staff, but it was the weekend so she wasn’t there (and we did get send home with cans of formula, in addition to breast milk storage bottles). Thankfully the local health department also has a lactation consultant (who is only in this county ONCE A WEEK!) and she was really helpful. A few weeks later, the baby isn’t gaining weight, and the pediatricians first (and only) suggestion is to supplement with formula. Not one word about how to increase my supply or any other alternatives (yay for the internet!). Also, I think a lack of maternity leave is a big issue in the States as well. If I had had to go back to work, that would have at the very least greatly reduced how often I breastfed (I did not respond to a pump at all, I doubt I’m the only one). I was lucky to have the resources I did and managed to eventually have a great (and long lol) breastfeeding experience. But I can see, easily, how a lot of people would run into hurtles like I did and just quit, because it almost felt like it was rigged for me to fail, and the people who should have been keeping that from happening either didn’t know how or had no interest in doing so.

  3. I think there are a variety of reasons why a woman might not reach her goal, many of which are stated above. Everyone also has their own opinion on breastfeeding. I will never have children, but I know I would sure try it.

  4. I do not know if I have the answer here. Being a dad, I don’t want to make assumptions. I know in our own situation, one of the challenges that my wife struggled with was a feeling of failure if things did not work. We got through that and everything worked out, but I know that this held her back at first.

  5. I’m thinking when I do have kids (whenever that is) I will try breastfeeding, but we will see. I could see it being hard for a mom that works full-time, because she would have to pump at work during the day, most likely.

  6. A truly helpful and information-pack post. This will seriously benefit moms who are breastfeeding or thinking twice about doing it.

  7. I think support helps women reach their goals. Having a group of people going through the same thing as you are is wonderful! It makes you feel like you’re not alone.


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