You may assume you’ll be able to breastfeed your newborn baby, even if it takes a few attempts. However, the reality is that for a number of different reasons some women are unable to breastfeed. It can be very distressing to discover you can’t breastfeed, so what should you do if you find yourself in that situation?
While breastfeeding is recommended, there are a number of reasons why you may be finding it difficult. Or you may be unable to breastfeed at all due to an insufficient milk supply or no milk supply. You may have had breast surgery, be on medication, have a premature baby or your baby may have problems latching on properly. Or you may not be able to breastfeed because you’ve adopted your baby or a surrogate has carried if for you.
So here are our top tips for what to do if you can’t breastfeed:
1. Consult your GP or healthcare provider
It’s important to seek professional help immediately if you are struggling to breastfeed or can’t at all. The most important thing is that your baby is putting on enough weight and thriving. You can seek expert advice from a doctor, midwife, Plunket or lactation specialist, who will give you information about what to do and the best way to feed your baby using formula or donated breast milk.
2. Be kind to yourself
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t breastfeed. Don’t feel guilty or inadequate – lots of women are in the same position. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad mother or your child won’t flourish. The most important thing is that you and your baby are healthy, happy and thriving.
3. Use donor milk
There’s been a real movement in recent years to use donated breast milk from other mothers. Many women prefer donated breast milk over formula, particularly for the first few weeks of their babies life. There are several online communities in New Zealand in which women can give and receive breast milk for free.
4. Find the right formula for your baby
It can be overwhelming deciding which formula to use as there are many out there on the market. If you’re unsure, seek medical advice from your GP or Plunket.
5. Enjoy your bundle of joy
It’s easy to get caught up in the difficulty and sometimes shock of not being able to breastfeed. But remember to focus on the positive – you have a beautiful new baby!