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Why you might not be able to breastfeed

There are some instances in which a new mother simply can't nurse exclusively, or at all, and bottle-feeding can save the day.  Some women, as much as they want to, are just not able to breastfeed, at least not exclusively.   However, do give breastfeeding a try (it's free!), but be prepared to supplement with a bottle if you find it's not working for you. Here are some other reasons that might preclude you from breastfeeding.

  • If you have had breast reduction surgery, the tissue removed was made up of milk glands and ducts and in some cases the nipple would have been repositioned affecting the flow of breast milk.  Although you may be able to breastfeed you may wish to supplement with a bottle.  There is also a small chance following breast enlargement surgery that similar problems be be incurred.


  • You should not try to breastfeed if you have been infected with HIV, because the virus can be passed to your babythrough the milk.


  • If you have a serious illness like heart disease, for example, or severe anemia breastfeeding might not be recommended.


  • You shouldn't nurse if you are receiving radiation in any form or are taking medications that pass into the breast milk, like antithyroid medication, chemotherapeutic agents, and some mood-altering drugs. Check with your doctor to see whether any drugs you are taking present a problem.


  • You shouldn't breastfeed if you have a drug or alcohol addiction.


  • If you smoke you can breastfeed, but you shouldn't smoke at least 95 minutes before every breastfeed, to be sure no nicotine or other chemicals are in your milk - and never smoke around your baby. 

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