I can't breastfeed: causes and advice

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I can't breastfeed

Already during pregnancy the idea of ​​being able to breastfeed involves the future mother, who undertakes to prepare the breast, attends preparation courses and studies the best positions and techniques to ensure that breastfeeding begins and proceeds in the best possible way. But very often reality collides with expectations and breastfeeding is not always immediate, easy, intuitive. What to answer to new mothers who declare "I can't breastfeed"? Here are some tips.

In this article

  • The reasons why you cannot breastfeed
  • Breastfeeding Problems
  • Poor milk production
  • Inverted nipples
  • What to do if you are unable to breastfeed?

The reasons why you cannot breastfeed

Here are a few causes of inability to breastfeed:

  • Medical Reasons Breastfeeding Can Be Difficult: for example breast hypoplasia, also known as insufficient glandular tissue which occurs when breast tissue and glands do not develop normally. Women with this rare condition often have breasts that don't produce enough milk to breastfeed. Other conditions can also make breastfeeding impossible, such as heart failure or severe anemia;
  • Breast reduction surgery: if you have undergone breast reduction surgery, chances are you will have low breast milk production and will not be able to breastfeed exclusively, because the breast tissue that was removed contained milk glands and ducts. Similar problems can, in a few cases, also affect women who have had breast augmentation surgery;
  • Postpartum depression or anxietyThere is certainly no physical reason that prevents you from breastfeeding even if you are going through a period of depression or anxiety, however some studies suggest that there is a link between the two. This doesn't mean that breastfeeding causes postpartum depression or anxiety, but it could be an additional stressor.
Read also: Breastfeeding without problems, tips for fissures

Breastfeeding Problems

Breastfeeding could proceed in a simple and serene way, but there is no doubt that many women experience at least once some problems that could make breastfeeding difficult.

  • Pain in the nipples
  • Breast engorgement
  • Clogged milk ducts
  • Mastitis
  • Thrush
  • Vasospasm in the nipples

Pain in the nipples

What causes i sore nipples? Sore nipples are a common reason women throw in the towel while breastfeeding. Many women report tingling and pain as being caused by "stings and needles"in the first 30 seconds or so of breastfeeding. But in other cases the pain persists even for the entire feeding. Often it is a problem that occurs mainly in the first weeks, then the nipples" get used to "and harden. But in other cases the pain persists. The best way to solve the problem is to change position and teach the baby to latch on correctly: often the pain is caused by the fact that the baby takes only the nipple and not the whole areola. attached correctly the chin and the tip of the baby's nose touch the breast and the lips are folded out (like a fish). If you are using a breast pump, you may be using too high a speed.

Breast engorgement

What is breast engorgement? About three days after giving birth, the breasts will become firm and milk production will increase, so much so that even wearing a bra can hurt. About two thirds of all women experience breast engorgement in the first few days after giving birth. The good news is that breast engorgement lasts for 24 to 48 hours, and the worst pain should subside within a couple of days and resolve within a few weeks of breastfeeding.

Clogged milk ducts

Sometimes a milk duct can become clogged, causing the milk to stagnate and causing a red, tender lump. Although a blocked duct itself is not serious, it can lead to a breast infection if not resolved. In this case, breastfeeding should not be interrupted: the practice helps the milk to flow and eventually unblocks the duct. Meanwhile, apply a warm compress before each feed and massage the lump while breastfeeding. Once the baby has finished breastfeeding, empty the affected breast, either manually or with a breast pump.


La mastite è an infection breast tissue causing fever, muscle and breast pain and redness. It usually occurs when a milk duct becomes clogged and trapped breast milk becomes infected with bacteria from the baby's mouth. Up to 10% of all women can experience it, usually within the first six weeks of giving birth. How to treat mastitis: Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics that will make you feel better quickly.


If the nipples are pink, burning, and tingling, a thrush called thrush may have set in.

Vasospasm in the nipples

Vasospasm of the nipple - also called Raynaud's disease - occurs when the blood vessels in the nipples tighten and narrow and do not let enough blood through, causing pain, burning or numbness.

Poor milk production

The most common reason why moms stop breastfeeding is that they think their baby is not getting enough milk. This is usually not the case, but if you are supplementing with formula milk or lengthening the time between feeds, your breasts will not be stimulated enough to produce enough milk. In some cases, you may not be able to produce enough milk (as in the case of a thyroid disease), but in most cases this is not the case.

How can we control milk production?

Monitoring the weight of the baby. After 14 days from birth, the baby must have fully recovered from the physiological decline and then must start gaining about 200 grams per week. If the baby is not gaining enough weight, he is not getting enough milk.

Inverted nipples

Inverted nipples are another common cause of some difficulty breastfeeding. Here are some tips to help you breastfeed more easily:

  • Try offering the breast to the baby with a cup, or C-shaped, grip which makes latching easier.
  • Wait until the baby's mouth is wide open before taking him to the breast.
  • Before attaching the baby, exert a gentle suck on the nipple with a breast pump, or with the syringe method, an effective grandmother's remedy.

What to do if you are unable to breastfeed?

L'nursing it is undoubtedly the best way to feed the newborn and according to the World Health Organization the baby should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. However, the infant formula formulas they look more and more like mother's milk, and a serene and happy mother who bottle feeds is much better than a mother who breastfeeds with stress and frustration. Talk to a lactation consultant for support, advice and tips to improve breastfeeding, but if you decide to stop, don't feel guilty: it's not breastfeeding that makes a good mom!


  • Breastfeeding: between art, science and nature of the Ministry of Health for the management of receding nipples
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

  • breastfeeding
  • breastfeeding problems
  • mastite
  • breast engorgement
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