When to avoid breastfeeding?

When to avoid breastfeeding?

You've heard of all the good things about breastfeeding. Some of you even feel like we're not being a good mother if we don't plan to. But what if you should not breastfeed?

Almost every mother wishes to breastfeed their baby as we have heard of all the benefits there are to breastfeeding. There are some special cases though that causes a new mother to avoid breastfeeding their baby. Do you know when to avoid breastfeeding?

When to avoid breastfeeding: Medication & other drugs

You should not breastfeed your baby if you are on the following medication.

  • Antiretroviral medications (for HIV/AIDS treatment)
  • Anxiety medications
  • Birth-control medications containing estrogen
  • Cancer chemotherapy agents
  • Illegal drugs
  • Migraine medications prescribed to treat migraines, such as ergot alkaloids
  • Mood stabilizers, such as lithium and lamotrigine
  • Sleep-aid medicine

You should also avoid breastfeeding if you are undergoing radiation therapy, although some therapies may only require you to stop breastfeeding temporarily.

The above list is only a guideline. It is best to consult your doctor before breastfeeding if you have any underlying medical illness, condition or are on any medication. These include prescribed medications, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal therapies. Most of the medication that is safe to take during pregnancy should also be safe for breastfeeding mums. It is best to speak with your doctor to ensure the medication you are taking is safe.

If your infant has any signs of a reaction to your breast milk, such as diarrhoea, excessive crying, or sleepiness, consult your PD immediately.

When to avoid breastfeeding: medical conditions

There are times when a mother's breast milk may do more harm to the baby . This happens when the mother is infected with an illness or has a condition that may be passed to the baby through the breastmilk.

You should avoid breastfeeding if you have the following:

  • Infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • Infection with human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I or type II
  • Untreated, active tuberculosis

When to avoid breastfeeding: Infant health

In some additional situations, or if you or your newborn has the following illnesses, do consult your health care provider prior to breastfeeding.

  • Diabetes. You may require a specialised diet so as to prevent your blood sugar levels from dropping, especially during breastfeeding.
  • Thyroid conditions or certain bowel diseases. You may be required to increase your calorie intake. As these conditions may make you underweight, the increase in calories will help to  maintain your own health during breastfeeding.
  • Breast augmentation. You may encounter breastfeeding difficulties if you have had breast surgery.
  • Substance abuse. You will likely be advised by your doctor not to breastfeed with you have or had substance abuse issues.
  • Galatosemia. Infants diagnosed with galactosemia, a rare metabolic disorder in which the body cannot digest the sugar galactose, should not be breastfed.

These conditions may only stop you from breastfeeding temporarily. It does not mean that you will definitely not be able to breastfeed at all. If your condition is temporary and you are able, you can always pump and dump your milk it to keep your milk production going.

If your condition is more permanent and breastfeeding is an issue near and dear to you, consider getting milk from a milk bank.

Need Help? Don't fret!

When in doubt, please refer to a lactation consultant, who can offer you more personalised advice according to you and your baby's situation.

theAsianparent also has a Singapore Breastfeeding Mums Support Group that you can join for mum-to-mum advice.

Breastfeeding mums support group cover - 12-3-15 alt 2

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