15 Reasons Why You Might Be Unable to Breastfeed


Possible reasons that you are unable to breastfeed are breast reduction surgery, not having enough glandular tissue, infection, radiation treatment, alcohol addiction, drug addiction, smoking, galactosemia, HIV, tuberculosis, sepsis, hepatitis, herpes, lymphotropic virus and not mentally prepared.

The mother-baby bond is one of the most majestic forms of love that a person can ever experience. Of course, it takes some time for it to become strong, but when it happens, this connection lasts forever. Breastfeeding is among the factors that strengthens this magical bond. What’s more, breast milk is the most natural, the healthiest and the cheapest way to provide all the vitamins and calories that the little ball of love needs.

Many positive trends promote breastfeeding as the only right way that mothers should follow. Many campaigns try to make moms confident when breastfeeding in public, which is completely normal, of course.  However, there are moms that can’t breastfeed. If you can’t breastfeed, then this article is for you. Let’s have a look at 15 reasons why you might be unable to breastfeed and what you can do to change it:

Read More: 11 Home Remedies for Treating Nipple Itching

Breastfeeding Tips: 15 Why You Are Unable to Breastfeed

breastfeeding tips

If you had breast reduction surgery

Chances are then you might have a low supply of breast milk and won’t be able to nurse your baby full time if you underwent breast reduction surgery. If your nipple was removed, then placed back on your reconstructed breast, damage may have been caused to the nerves, milk ducts and the breast tissue which may limit the flow of your milk as well as lessening the sensation that you can feel in your nipples. Where breastfeeding is concerned, nerves are crucial. What they do is activate the release of prolactin and oxytocin, two hormones which affect milk production and letdown – the reflex that ensures your baby is getting enough milk.


Read More: Nipple Itching: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment And Prevention

If you do not have enough glandular tissue

This one can be a bit of a heart-breaker for a new mom, especially if you’ve dreamed about the breastfeeding relationship with your baby. A small percentage of women – we’re talking about one in a thousand – don’t have enough glandular tissue in their breasts to be able to provide enough milk to feed their little one. This condition is also known as hypoplasia. You might notice one of your boobs looks different to the other. You also may not have experienced any boob growth during your pregnancy. Breasts with this condition may be large or small. It’s actually the shape, placement and asymmetry of your boobs which may be a sign of hypoplasia. Large or bulbous areolae are also an indication. If you’re a mom with low glandular tissue, there’s a chance you can feed your baby with your milk, but you’ll need to supplement with a bottle.

Read More: 11 Home Remedies for Treating Nipple Thrush

If you have an infection

So you are bunged up with a cold, suffering from those god awful flu flushes or have a nasty gastrointestinal infection and you’re wondering if it’s ok to nurse the baby. There are, actually, very few conditions when a mother isn’t able to nurse. If your baby is over three weeks old and all proper precautions and hygiene measures are met, you can breastfeed because there’s no risk to the baby – expect in rare circumstances. However any younger than three weeks, and your baby is especially vulnerable to infection. Once you’re well again, you can resume breastfeeding as normal. If you’re worried about maintaining your milk supply, you can keep it up by pumping. If you have the flu when you give birth, you should expect to be kept apart from the baby until you are no longer contagious. Breastfeeding would definitely be off the table at that point.

Read More: Can You Breastfeed with Nipple Piercings?

If you’re receiving radiation treatment

If you are having radiation treatment – when high energy rays are used to eliminate cancer cells – it’s really important not to nurse your baby unless you’ve consulted with your doctor and have discussed the situation and the risks involved. The most common form of treatment is external beam radiation. This is usually safe when you’re breastfeeding but not if you’re receiving chemotherapy at the same time. There are, of course, exceptions so, as mentioned before, talk to your doctor before giving your baby the boob. If you have breast cancer and are having radiation on both of your breasts, then you can’t breastfeed. If one boob is healthy and free from the radiation treatment, it’s ok to go ahead and breastfeed with it. One thing you need to know, and which may alleviate some stress, is that cancerous cells cannot be passed through your milk to the baby.


If you have an alcohol addiction problem

While drinking through the nursing period isn’t illegal, consuming vast quantities of alcohol can be extremely harmful to a breastfeeding baby. If you’re the mother of a newborn, know this – your baby’s brain is still developing and is very vulnerable to what you take into your body. If there’s alcohol in your breast milk, chances are your baby will drink less and not grow properly. The amount of alcohol in your breast milk is similar to that in your blood, and alcohol is fast-acting, meaning it moves quickly into your milk. Leading health organizations have stated that breastfeeding women shouldn’t consume more than one drink a day.

If you have a drug addiction problem

Of course you want your baby to be as healthy as possible, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. Remember that nearly all of what you take into your body is passed on to your child. Marijuana, cocaine and heroin are all easily transmitted through breast milk and should be avoided at all costs when breastfeeding.

If you smoke

If you smoke and have dreams of breastfeeding your baby, today could be a good day to decide to stop. Researchers have discovered that the nicotine that is transferred into your milk upsets the baby. One study showed that moms who smoked the heaviest were actually the first to wean. Smoking also leads to lower milk production and it interferes with milk let-down. It can also cause symptoms in your baby such as nausea, abdominal cramps and vomiting.


If the infant is born with this rare genetic metabolic disease, breastfeeding is impossible. Many states test for this disorder, but early diagnosis is important. It is imperative that those with the condition avoid all milk products throughout life.


Mothers who have HIV cannot breastfeed. The disease can be transferred easily to the infant through breast milk.


Mothers with active and untreated tuberculosis cannot breastfeed their kids. This is highly contagious, but for mothers who have been treated and no longer infectious, it is safe to nurse their babies.



You can have a severe illness such as sepsis that may be carried to the baby.


You might be infected with hepatitis b or c. If it’s hepatitis b, the baby should be vaccinated within 48 hours of birth. If it’s hepatitis c, according to the children’s health network, avoid nursing if nipples are cracked or bleeding.


If you have herpes virus and has related sores on your nipples, then you might not be able to feed your child. However, breastfeeding may resume once the sores have healed.

Lymphotropic virus

In this case, you might be infected with human t-cell lymphotropic virus type i or ii and is therefore unable to breastfeed your baby.

You are not mentally prepared

You might not be mentally prepared for child rearing, which might affect the output of milk and therefore make it difficult for you to breastfeed.

This is a comprehensive list of the most common reasons why you might be unable to breastfeed. There can be numerous other reasons too. If you feel the situation is getting out of hand, consult a doctor.

Hope this article was of help to you! Please share your comments/queries/tips with us and help us create a world full of Happy, Healthy and Empowered Women!!