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Disadvantages of Breastfeeding

author image Melissa McNamara
Melissa McNamara is a certified personal trainer who holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and communication studies from the University of Iowa. She writes for various health and fitness publications while working toward a Bachelor of Science in nursing.
Disadvantages of Breastfeeding
Young family sitting outside.

Many experts believe that breastfeeding is one of the best things you can do for your baby’s health and development. The pros of breastfeeding may outweigh the cons, but breastfeeding is not always so easy. Your day hinges upon your baby’s feeding schedule, and you need to make several lifestyle changes in order to breastfeed your baby.

You Must Breastfeed or Pump

Breastfeeding is ideal for stay-at-home mothers who always have an available breast for their baby. However, many women work full-time or go to school shortly after their baby's birth. Since the mother is not always available to breastfeed, she must use a breast pump to extract milk for her baby. During the first six months, you breastfeed your baby about every two to three hours, so professional women must pump milk when they would usually breastfeed, just to stay ahead of the baby’s milk supply. If you don't pump breast milk, your breasts will become painfully engorged.

Breastfeeding May Cause Sexual Issues

Breastfeeding results in decreased estrogen production. A lack of estrogen can cause vaginal dryness, which can result in sore genitals during intercourse. Additionally, you have limited choices of birth control while breastfeeding because birth control with estrogen reduces your milk's quantity and quality. Finally, women who breastfeed often co-sleep with their baby, and having a child in the bed can take away the mood for sex.

Breastfeeding May Cause Breast Pain or Differences in Breast Size

Your baby's preference of one breast is a common problem with breastfeeding. If your baby does not breastfeed for similar time frames on each breast, one breast will produce more milk than the other will, which can cause a noticeable size difference between your breasts. Some women find that breastfeeding is painful when you first start, but this could indicate that your baby is latching incorrectly.
Additionally, your nipples may become cracked and painful, especially during the first six months. If your breasts are engorged, they will feel lumpy and will be hard as rocks. Engorged breasts can leak unexpectedly -- an embarrassing occurrence for most breastfeeding women. A blocked milk duct while breastfeeding feels like your breast is severely bruised, but regardless of the pain, you must allow your baby to breastfeed from the breast with the blocked duct to prevent engorgement.

Other Considerations

Babies who are teething tend to bite on anything they can put in their mouth -- including your nipple. Another disadvantage is weaning. Some babies will wean themselves within the first year, but others grow into toddlers with no sign of stopping. A breastfeeding toddler can be demanding, throwing tantrums and pulling on your clothing in public. Another disadvantage is being unable to tell how much your baby eats. If your baby loses weight or fails to thrive, consult with your doctor since you may not be producing enough milk to support your baby’s nutritional needs.

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