What are the Most Common Reasons for Not Breastfeeding?

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  • Written By: M.C. Huguelet
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2018
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At some stage, every new or expectant mother must decide whether or not to breastfeed her baby. Many mothers choose to feed their babies formula rather than breast milk. There are a wide number of possible reasons for not breastfeeding. Among the most common reasons for not breastfeeding are time issues, discomfort, latching difficulties, and concerns over medication.

One of the most common reasons for not breastfeeding is that it poses a time issue. Newborns and infants can breastfeed as often as once every two to three hours. For a new mother who must return to a job or who has other children to care for, it simply may not be possible to personally feed a new baby this frequently. By choosing to feed her infant formula rather than breast milk, a new mother can make it easier for others to deliver feedings.

Physical and emotional discomfort are also common reasons for not breastfeeding. A large proportion of new mothers experience nipple and breast discomfort during the first few days of breastfeeding. In most cases, this discomfort disappears as mother and infant grow used to feeding. For some mothers, however, this pain does not subside. Those who experience significant ongoing pain while breastfeeding may find it necessary to switch to bottle feeding.


Some mothers may opt not to breastfeed because they find it emotionally uncomfortable. They may, for instance, dislike the idea of being required to feed their child in public places when necessary. In addition, they may find the need to pump their milk while at work or in other situations when they are away from their child awkward and unpleasant.

Latching difficulty on the baby’s part is another common reason for not breastfeeding. Many babies cannot “latch on” to their mother’s nipple at first, making it difficult to feed them properly. Often, this difficulty is resolved with the help of a lactation specialist, who can assist new mothers in altering their breastfeeding technique. Some infants never latch properly, however, making bottle feeding necessary.

Finally, concern about a medication is also a common reason for not breastfeeding. Certain drugs can be passed from mother to child through the mother’s breast milk, potentially causing the child to become ill. A nursing mother may opt to stop breastfeeding temporarily if she is taking a short-term course of medication. Those who expect to be taking a medication indefinitely, as may be the case with drugs like antidepressants or cholesterol-reducers, may find it more suitable to bottle feed.



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