(Closed) Can anyone breast feed?

posted 8 years ago in Pregnancy
Post # 17
8700 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: May 2013

@lealorali:  So I was wondering that, too, and here’s what I got:

1. Wet nurses fed the babies
2. Rags soaked in animal milk (high infant mortality rate) (Generally mixed with sugar)
3. Home made “formulas” (high infant mortality rate)
4. Babies given solid foods from the offset (malnutrition and serious complications)
5. Babies starved to death

So apparently wet nurses were much more prevalent than either of us thought! I’m assuming it was one of those “it takes a village” things! If you had extra milk, you fed your neighbor’s baby.

Post # 18
3797 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

It seems to be really unique to each woman. I will not try for a baby for a few years, but hope to breastfeed when I do. My older sister had my niece a little over 4 years ago. She so wanted to breastfeed, but she just couldn’t produce enough milk. No matter how much she tried, and she would try pumping as well to see if that would help stimulate her glands, she could only produce very, very little.

Post # 19
6375 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: July 2013 - UK

It’s funny… I always assumed it would not be a problem for me when I was younger because of my Mum. She fed me until my brother was born, and then fed him for a long time. She must have managed about 3-4 years in total, at least.

Mother-In-Law couldn’t feed any of her kids though. She said that she was told by the midwife that ginger people with green or blue eyes often have trouble breastfeeding. Don’t know how true that is though!

Post # 20
336 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2011

Not to brag, but hopefully to provide some reassurance: I had no problem breast feeding at all. DS fed in the delivery room, then that first afternoon he was really sleepy so I had to pump and cup-feed, because he wouldn’t suck, but since then, he’s been a champ. My milk came in day 4, and it was uncomfortable but effective. I keep being nervous that something will go awry, but thus far it really has been a breeze. So it does work smoothly for a lot of people.  And I do feel like there’s a lot of support if you have issues, from the lactation consultants, nurses, OBs, pediatricians, as well as the internet. Good luck and think positive!

Post # 21
3479 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2013 - Upstate NY

@ZoeyGirl: so encouragng to hear!!!

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@BrandNewBride:  you’re a good little researcher. I never knew any of that info

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@Cory_loves_this_girl:  there’s so much guilt associated with breastfeeding isn’t there?? terrible.

Post # 22
1042 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: November 2011

There are a lot of reasons women can’t breastfeed that are unrelated to a woman’s milk production capabilities. I am one example of formula being necessary despite my not having any biological problem with producing milk.

In my case, the babies developed severe jaundice due to blood type incompatibility. Jaundice  makes for very sleepy eaters who just don’t take enough, and it is impossible to get rid of without proper hydration. They developed dangerously high (like, close to needing blood transfusion high) bilirubin levels within a day of being born, and because it meant they weren’t ‘demanding’ enough from me to begin with, my milk supply was already taking a hit before it even properly came in. We narrowly escaped feeding tubes in the beginning because they were going downhill so fast, and if formula hadn’t been around, I don’t know if they would have made it. As twins, they didn’t have much weight to lose from the start, and the jaundice/sleepy eating made them lose an alarming amount in the 24 hours before they made us begin supplementing. My milk didn’t come in until day 5, and by that time, serious damage would have probably been done by the jaundice, not to mention the life-threatening amount of weight loss they would have experienced. I desperately wanted to breastfeed, so I would shuffle my butt every three hours down to the NICU to breastfeed each twin for an hour before I let them supplement. 

Fast forward 10 days: we got home from the hospital, and because the health visitors were still monitoring the babies’ weights (on threat of re-admission to the hospital) we continued to supplement. Again, only after 30-45 minutes of breastfeeding for each twin and pumping between feeds to get more breastmilk for them.

Fast forward to 2.5 months old: the babies were only taking half a feed from me because that’s all my body was making due to supplementing. This was even with taking all the right herbs, eating oatmeal all the time, and pumping in between feeds. 

Fast forward to 3 months old: the babies refused to breastfeed full-stop, arching their backs and screaming when I put them near a boob because they had oral thrush (which, by the way, has nothing to do with the other kind of thrush–one of them got it from having a weakened immune system after immunisations, then she gave it to me, then I gave it to her sister). The doctor treated all three of us, but since the babies’ thrush took a full three weeks to clear up and my nipple thrush took only one, I couldn’t breastfeed them for another two weeks or I’d risk re-infection and just pass it to them again. I pumped to keep up my supply, but by the time the thrush cleared up, they had gotten too used to the bottles and refused to breastfeed. I pumped for another few weeks, then gave up as I wasn’t getting loads. It was also just too stressful.

So… That’s my story! I cried and cried when I finally gave up pumping. I had been so keen to breastfeed and it just didn’t work out, and I felt incredibly guilty that I wasn’t giving my babies what I knew was best for them. I think the hardest part, though, was feeling rejected by my babies, like they didn’t want or need me. I loved breastfeeding and was gutted to stop. It’s not always a case of someone trying for two days and giving up because they can’t be bothered!

Post # 23
6430 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: February 2013

@lealorali:  I put the guilt on myself. I didn’t really care about my birth plan, but I REALLY cared about BFing. It was something I really wanted to succeed at, and it was a horrible feeling to feel like I couldn’t do something as important and natural as feeding my baby.

Post # 24
6582 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: October 2010

I breastfed both my daughters, but there were difficulties with both of them.  With the first one, I didn’t end up making enough milk to keep up with her demand and I stopped at 7 weeks because she was losing weight.  With my second child, she was in the NICU for 5 days and as a result had latching issues- so I pumped with her.  I still do consider it success- they got breastmilk for a while at least- but I don’t know what I would have done hundreds of years ago!  Of all of my girlfriends, only one has breastfed her children for over 6 months.  I do think a lot of this is related to having to go back to work and having less than ideal conditions for pumping etc.


Post # 25
7571 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

@lucyh2bee:  Well I have had a mastectomy as have most of the members of my support groups for young women suffering breast cancer (40 members). So yeah it would be physically impossible to breast feed if I wanted to.

I agree with

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@Cory_loves_this_girl:. Difficulties are very common. My sister just didn’t produce enough milk  and it dried up quickly despite trying everything under the sun.

If anyone, including a medical professional, makes any women feel guilty about not being able to or wanting to breast feed then they should just STFU. Encouraging is fine but guilting is just pathetic.   


Post # 26
493 posts
Helper bee

I never realized that being unable to breastfeed was so prevalent! My mom was able to breastfeed all 3 of us without complications and I really hope that I am able to do the same when my son is born. My boobs have literally doubled in size already so I am really hoping it’s because they have the same plan! haha

Post # 27
429 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2018

I certainly get the impression it is common (Not being able to). I am now not sure where that impression has come from but I won’t be surprised if I can’t do it and I certainly will not be bothered in the slightest if I have to formula feed. 

Post # 29
900 posts
Busy bee


These can be useful for women who are having trouble with supply.  While they’re intended for non-pregnancy induction, the same approach can also be used to increase supply after birth.

It’s not unusual for women to have some difficulty with supply, especially with their first child. Most women do have some milk come in, but not all women are able to sustain or achieve enough supply to feed an infant without some kind of formula supplementation. That’s totally okay! There is absolutely nothing wrong with a combination of breastfeeding and formula feeding.

Post # 30
173 posts
Blushing bee

@lucyh2bee:  My mother couldn’t BF any of us.  With my youngest sister (a few years ago) she tried pumping and only a tiny bit of “water” came out.  We don’t know what it actually was, probably not actually water, but it was completely clear, definitely not milk.  All of her sisters, including her identical twin, were able to BF.

Post # 31
173 posts
Blushing bee

@lealorali:  I see you got a response to this and I’d like to add another theory.

Yes, babies would just die.  There was very high infant mortality “back in the day.”  That being said, there are probably more women now that can’t breast feed than there were back then.  This is because we now have formula, so these babies, carrying the “can’t breastfeed gene” are surviving, and continuing to pass down this gene, making it more prevalent.

Not a guarantee that this is the case, but I would suspect it would have something to do with it being more prevalent today than before formula.

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