Baby Care

When You Can’t or Shouldn’t Breastfeed

Don’t lose heart, the baby will do fine.

Verified by:
iMumz Expert Panel
Updated on:
September 30, 2022

A Few Drawbacks

For some moms, the benefits of breastfeeding are beside the point. These moms don’t have the option of nursing their new babies, either because of:

  • Their own health (kidney disease, for instance, or a disease that requires medication which is harmful during lactation).
  • Their baby’s health (a metabolic disorder, such as PKU or severe lactose intolerance, that makes even human milk impossible for baby to digest, or a cleft lip and/or cleft palate that interferes with suckling), or inadequate glandular tissue in the breasts (which, by the way, has nothing to do with breast size), damage to the nerve supply to the nipple (as from injury or surgery), or a hormonal imbalance.
  • Medications they are on. For example, chemotherapy drugs, antiretroviral medications, radioactive iodine, some kinds of  sedatives, seizure medication, medicines that may cause drowsiness or suppress breathing.

Some Workarounds

  • A baby with a malformed lip or palate can be fitted with a special mouth appliance and/or can be fed pumped milk. Medications mom has to take can be adjusted.
  • A mom who isn’t able to produce all of her baby’s milk because of a hormonal imbalance or because of past breast surgery (a breast reduction is more likely than breast augmentation to cause supply problems) may be able to produce enough to make breastfeeding worthwhile, even if supplementary formula is needed.

Choosing the Right Formula

  • Protein, carbohydrate, and fat make up 98 percent of infant formula. So, do read the label of the formula carefully.
  • Focus on the first few ingredients. Those first few ingredients will tell you what type of protein and carbohydrates are used in that formula.
  • Choose fully hydrolyzed proteins in the formula. They are easy to digest and are also hypoallergenic.
  • Look for a formula that is lactose-reduced. If lactose is removed from a formula, some other carbohydrate must be added to ensure babies get enough carbohydrate energy. There are only two other carbohydrates small enough that infants can digest them well. These are sucrose (table sugar) and glucose sugars.
  • Specialised formula is available for babies with certain medical needs or preterm babies.
  • And make sure you choose a brand that is easily available. You don’t want to get scared that it is out of stock just when the baby needs it!