Reasons to Bottle Feed

In this post I’ll build on my previous by discussing reasons to bottle feed. Obviously, there are concrete reasons why a woman can’t breastfeed, even if she wants to. Here I’ll list them, but the most important reason to remember is that YOU WANT TO. It’s your body and your baby and if you wish to bottle feed, that is completely your decision.

Medical Reasons Not to Breastfeed:Β 

  • You are HIV positive. We have anti-retrovirals now to keep your baby from contracting HIV in utero and immediately after birth, but it can be spread through breastmilk as well. These babies should be bottle fed.
  • You have a severe illness, especially in the bloodstream. Insignificant illnesses like a cold or even the flu, do not qualify. These include cancers, anemia, heart disease, etc.
  • You are infected with the herpes virus and have sores present on your breasts. This is an active form of the infection and can spread to your baby’s mouth if breastfeeding is initiated. Breastfeeding can be initiated when the sores heal.
  • You are taking medications that pass through the breastmilk (see my medication safety post for details!)
  • You have hepatitis B. Once your baby has received the hepatitis B vaccine, breastfeeding can be initiated.
  • You have hepatitis C (especially if your nipples are cracked or bleeding) as this disease can pass through bodily fluids and has no known cure or vaccine for prevention.
  • You have active tuberculosis. If you are being treated and cleared by your doctor however, you can.
  • You are smoking marijuana, using illicit drugs, or drinking large amounts of alcohol. These can all pass through your breastmilk and to your baby.
    • While marijuana is legal in many states and you may use it for a medical reason, there is some evidence to suggest that it can impair a baby’s brain development.
  • You are receiving chemo or chemotherapy drugs. These are toxic and can pass through breastmilk.
  • You are receiving radiation, especially to the chest. This can affect your breast tissue and breast milk.
  • If your baby is diagnosed with diseases like galactosemia or PKU. This makes them unable to digest the breastmilk.
  • You have had breast enhancement or reduction surgery. These may change milk production and make you unable to make enough. You can attempt to breastfeed as much as possible but you may need to supplement with some formula as well. It’s more important that your baby get enough to eat.
  • If you are a current smoker, you CAN breastfeed. However, do NOT light up for at least 95 minutes before breastfeeding. This will clear your milk. Also, do NOT smoke around your baby. Second hand smoke is dangerous for them as well.
  • You have insufficient glandular tissue. A lactation consultant is able to diagnose this, but basically it means your body does not have enough breastmilk creating tissue and you may need to supplement.


These are all reasons you shouldn’t breastfeed for your safety and the safety of your baby. DO NOT be discouraged by this. Your baby will be just as healthy and happy πŸ™‚


Please email me with any questions! πŸ™‚


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