Breast milk is the healthiest food your newborn can eat. But breastfeeding isn’t all milk and honey. There are also a few disadvantages of breastfeeding you should know.
Before getting into detail, know that we are true supporters of breastfeeding and there is always a solution to overcome the drawbacks listed below.
That said, let’s see which are the disadvantages of breastfeeding and what to do to solve them.
1. Sore Breasts
Breast soreness is one of the most frequent symptoms of the breastfeeding moms. Most women feel pain when breastfeeding for the first time because the milk ducts are still opening. But soreness can be felt for a longer time due to various reasons.
Pain can be caused by improper latching, and here’s where an obstetrician or doula can help, teaching you how to latch the baby.
If the breast pain is not caused by an infection (see below), you can treat the symptoms with warm baths and soothing massages. If the problem persists, you should probably see your practitioner.
This is perhaps the greatest disadvantage of breastfeeding, although mastitis is a treatable condition which shouldn’t frighten you.
Mastitis is the infection of the milk ducts and it can affect any breastfeeding woman. It causes flu-like symptoms including fever, chills, and red streaks on the breasts. But above all, it can cause pain.
Therefore, if sore breasts are associated with any flu-like symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible. The condition can be treated with antibiotics and the treatment doesn’t represent a counter-indication for breastfeeding.
3. Nipple Lesions
Nipple lesions usually happen because of an improper latching of the baby and it manifests with open sores or friction blisters. Correcting the position of the baby usually alleviates the symptoms. If the blisters are caused by improper pumping, learn the correct pumping technique to prevent the condition.
A special mention to the nipple lesions caused by baby bites. These happen after the baby’s teeth have erupted, as the little one may involuntarily bite you while eating. Bite marks can become more evident in the case of prolonged breastfeeding, as toddlers develop their biting and chewing skills.
To treat bite lesions, you can either pump your milk and feed the baby from a bottle or, if the child is old enough to understand, tell your toddler why she shouldn’t bite while latched.
4. Feeding Length
Breastfeeding your baby is a complex procedure which involves fatigue. Your baby has to latch and actually struggle to get the milk out.
On the contrary, feeding on a bottle is simple. Not even the best artificial nipples can recreate the breastfeeding mechanism, and the baby puts a very little effort into getting the milk out.
For this reason, a breastfeeding session is much longer than a bottle feeding session. In general, it can take up to an hour for the baby to breastfeed; when eating from a bottle, the session usually lasts for about 15 minutes.
Although breastfeeding creates a unique bond between mom and baby, if you’re a busy parent, this could be an important disadvantage.
5. Feeding Frequency
Along with the feeding length, there is also the feeding frequency to consider. Breastfed babies get hungry faster because breast milk is digested faster.
This means more time spending with the baby latched and also frequenter wake-ups during the night.
A solution to this is to pump your milk and ask your partner to feed the baby during the night from a bottle. However, this practice could have negative effects if the baby understands that she doesn’t have to struggle for the milk when eating from the bottle.
6. Public Embarrassment
Breastfeeding is a natural process and there are dozens of women who militate for breastfeeding in public. Nonetheless, if you have an introvert or shy nature, breastfeeding in public can be plain embarrassing.
Yet, there are various ways to feed your baby in public without exposing too much flesh.
A simple way is to invest in a quality nursing cover. Alternatively, use a baby wrap to carry your child and use the fabric to slightly cover your breast when the baby’s hungry. Wearing nursing clothes that provide quick and discreet access to the breast can also help.
Or just pump your milk and feed the baby from a bottle when you’re on the go.
7. Human Pacifier
A characteristic of many breastfeeding babies is their adversity towards artificial nipples, including pacifiers. But these babies still need a soothing nipple before falling asleep or when they are fuzzy.
In this case, the denial of taking a pacifier may translate into the need to latch to your boob for soothing. And this more or less turns you into a human pacifier.
This may seem cute at first, but when tiredness kicks in, having to constantly use your breasts to soothe down your little one may become exhausting and overwhelming.
Talking about tiredness, breastfeeding is tiring. Not only you’ll have to wake up several times a night to feed your bundle of joy, but breastfeeding enhances the production of progesterone and prolactin, two hormones that cause sleepiness and tiredness.
There are various ways to fight fatigue.
A healthy diet rich in protein and fibers gives you more energy than a diet rich in carbs and fats. Nuts and bananas also give you energy but don’t exaggerate with the dried fruits as they may cause allergies in the baby. Also, make sure you drink plenty of water.
Exercising also helps you feel more energized. There are many postpartum workout plans to consider regardless of how you gave birth.
9. Sibling Jealousy
Breastfeeding is often interpreted as giving too much attention to the youngster. And this can easily cause sibling jealousy. The feeling could be accentuated by a short age gap between the kids.
Sibling jealousy can be solved by involving the older child in newborn caring as much as you can. Extended breastfeeding can also help, and you can even breastfeed both kids at the same time.
10. Pain During Intercourse
Progesterone and prolactin hit once again, and this time they affect your libido. These hormones prevent the natural lubrication of the vagina; combined with the injuries suffered during childbirth, this translates into a painful intercourse.
Not only, but these hormones will also negatively impact your libido. This might not be too much of an issue for you, as you’re probably tired anyway, but your partner might not like the change.
11. Dietary Restrictions
Theoretically speaking, breastfeeding doesn’t come with dietary restrictions as long as the food is concerned. But what you eat alters the flavor of the milk, and your baby might not like the diet. That’s why specialists recommend limiting the consumption of spicy or very flavored foods.
It is also believed that dried fruits and fish may trigger allergies in babies, although there is little scientific evidence to support these claims.
Yet, you should still pay attention to eat healthily. Avoid refined sugars, carbonated drinks, and processed foods. Focus instead on fruits, veggies, and high-quality meat.
But your dietary restrictions don’t concern food alone. You’ll have to wait to enjoy that glass of wine until breastfeeding is over. Smoking is also prohibited.
12. Difficult Social Life
Having a social life after giving birth is difficult, but having a social life as a breastfeeding mom is even harder. There is no one else who can feed the baby apart from you, so you’ll have to always be present when she’s hungry.
If breastfeeding in public embarrasses you, things get even more complicated.
There is no more staying out late to catch up with your friends, forget the parties (at least for a while) and prepare for a more tranquil life spent in the company of your child.
On the bright side, you can meet other moms during the daily strolls, make new friends, share thoughts and worries, and generally feel like a part of a group.
13. Hard To Calculate The Milk Intake
That’s a tough one. We know how much a baby should eat at every meal. And the amount is easy to calculate if you’re feeding the baby with formula or with breast milk from a bottle. But it’s near impossible to tell how much your baby’s eating when breastfeeding.
Therefore, if you have a feeding schedule in place, there is the risk to feed your baby too little or too much.
Now, there is only one solution to this, which is breastfeeding on demand. Rather than setting and sticking to a schedule, listen to your child. She’ll let you know when she’s hungry and will eat as much as she needs.
From experience, breastfeeding on demand was one of the best things between my baby and I. Feeding my child was more confusing during the first month but the baby created a feeding pattern on her own, with meals set every 3-4 hours.
My advice is to not worry too much, just follow the signs set up by your baby and things will settle on their own.
14. Special Clothing
Wearing special nursing bras and shirts is not mandatory, but these garments can make your life easier. Fast access to the breast, especially when you’re half asleep, really makes a difference. The only problem is that special nursing clothes are quite expensive.
There are two solutions. Either save the money and invest in a few nursing shirts and bras or agree to wear shared clothes. The latter is usually free, and once the baby outgrows the breastfeeding stage, you can share the garments with other moms in need.
15. Painful Pumping
Feeling pain whilst pumping your milk is frequent, albeit the condition is caused either by an incorrect procedure or by other conditions that have nothing to do with pumping.
As a first time mom, it’s easy to get pumping wrong. Most women feel that a bigger breast shield is more comfortable but the truth is you’ll have to use the right size. Too big or too little shields may cause your nipple to rub against the shield’s wall, causing pain. A too high suction power also causes soreness and pain.
If you’ve checked these things and you’re mastering the pumping technique, know that nipple sores caused by incorrect latching and yeast infections can also cause discomfort while pumping.
16. Lack Of Freedom
A breastfed child has a unique source of food, which is you. If the child refuses the bottle, it means nobody else can feed the baby in your absence. And this translates into a total lack of freedom.
Sometimes, even a trip to the grocery store down the street can feel like a vacation but if your baby depends on you, it’s unlikely for it to happen during the first three months.
In the alternative, you can accustom the baby with the bottle too, although this is tricky and may easily lead to bottle preference.
17. Change In Breast Shape
A cosmetic issue rather than a medical problem – but somehow annoying nonetheless – is the change in breasts shape that happens during and after breastfeeding.
There is no secret that breasts get bigger during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. This is a result of a milk accumulation but also of the milk ducts swallowing to allow the passage of the liquid. The enlargement of the breasts is a quick process, and it can easily cause stretch marks.
When breastfeeding is over, there is no milk to fill the breasts and the ducts get back to their original size. This leaves a feeling of emptiness and sagginess which some women hate.
Now, there is little to do about it and honestly, your baby’s health deserves all the sagginess in the world.
18. Embarrassing Leaks
All women produce a quantity of milk right after giving birth, but the constant production is stimulated exclusively by the baby’s suction. A pump can’t be a substitute and if you don’t breastfeed, your body will stop producing milk.
The body regulates milk production based on the frequency of the feedings. And more often than not, this means a lot of milk during the first months.
If the breasts get full before mealtime, the milk could start leaking, and this can happen anywhere. And even if it’s natural, walking around with a stained shirt and milk flowing from your boobs is far from exciting.
But there is an easy way to fix this issue. Wear breast pads and nobody will notice the leak.
19. Dad Exclusion
Besides the sibling jealousy mentioned above, you’ll also have to deal with your partner. Breastfeeding is an intimate moment between you and the child, and the dad can do little to help. Because breastfeeding will take much of your time in the first months, your partner may feel neglected.
The only way to fix this issue is to involve the dad as much as you can. Ask your partner to massage your breasts to soothe the sores, let him sit next to you when the baby’s eating, ask him to put the baby in the crib after breastfeeding or to change the diaper.
Sharing a few intimate moments with your partner when the baby’s sleeping can also help, even if this means cuddling on the couch while watching Netflix.
20. Passing On Infections
Thrush, or candida, is a yeast infection that affects most breastfeeding moms. It is caused by the same yeast which causes vaginal infections, but this time it is located in your breasts. Thrush is easy to identify but by the time you’ll realize it’s there, your baby will have it too.
Passing on candida and other infections to the baby through breast milk is very easy, that’s why you should pay attention to your health and treat the symptoms as soon as you can.
Most antibiotics and anti-fungal medicines are safe to take while breastfeeding and don’t interfere with the process.
21. Difficulty To Stop Breastfeeding
Last but not least, one of the disadvantages of breastfeeding is the difficulty to stop breastfeeding. Feeding your baby with breast milk creates a bond between you and the child which is hard to break.
Before panicking, consider the benefits of the extended breastfeeding and know that weaning doesn’t have to be difficult for neither of you. And more often than not, babies know how to wean themselves and will eventually give up to breastfeeding on their own.
As you can see, all the disadvantages of breastfeeding listed above have simple solutions. Yes, breastfeeding can be painful and demanding. You’ll have to reschedule your whole life and reconsider your priorities.
But in the end, what matters is your baby’s health and breast milk is the most nutrient, inexpensive, and ecological food you could possibly feed to your little one.
Not yet convinced? Check out these 21 benefits of breastfeeding before deciding whether to feed your baby breast milk or formula.