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7 Conditions That Can Stop a Mother from Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is an important decision that a mother needs to make. Experts believe that breastfeeding might bring many benefits for mom and baby. First, breast milk provides the ideal nutrition like fat, protein and vitamins that your baby needs to grow. Next, breast milk gives antibodies to your baby to help fight off viruses and bacteria. Thus, breastfeeding can decrease your baby’s risk of having diseases. For the mother, breastfeeding helps to reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Breastfeeding is very beneficial. But, it can cause some challenges like sore nipples, breast engorgement and stress. Besides, some medical conditions can also make it difficult for a mother to breastfeed. If you have breast problems, stop breastfeeding to protect yourself and your baby.

Here are 7 conditions that can stop a mother from breastfeeding.

  1. Herpes

Herpes is a skin condition caused by the herpes simplex virus. There are 2 types of this virus including HSV-1 (herpes type 1) and HSV-2 (herpes type 2).  HSV-1 can cause cold sores on the face or around the mouth. Furthermore, it can develop blisters above the waist and even on the breast. HSV-2 usually causes sores or blisters on the genital areas, called genital herpes.

Herpes is highly contagious, but the virus cannot be spread through breast milk. In fact, it can be passed on during direct skin contact and sexual intercourse.

Your baby can get herpes by touching a sore on your breast while being breastfed. If you have cold sores on your breast, avoid nursing until the sores are completely gone. You can pump your milk from that breast to feed your baby. Remember not to let your hands or milk contact with the sores. If breast milk becomes infected with the virus, you should discard it. You can continue to nurse your baby from the unaffected breast.

Baby get herpes from nursing

If you have a sore on/around your mouth, avoid kissing your baby. Besides, don’t let your baby contact with any sores or blisters on your skin. Moreover, wash your hands and your baby’s hands after touching a sore. Plus, keep clean clothing between your baby and any infected skin areas.

There are many different ways to get rid of herpes. You can apply home remedies to relieve herpes symptoms. These remedies are tea tree oil, baking soda, aloe Vera and lemon balm. You can also use antiviral cream like Prosurx to ease pain and burning sensation from herpes. Doctors recommend applying it 2-3 times daily within 5-6 days. The cream can inactivate the virus and prevent recurring infections.

Related: How to Get Rid Of Fever Blisters

Top 5 Treatments and Drugs for Cold Sores

  1. HIV infections

HIV infection is a sexually transmitted infection caused by human immunodeficiency virus. When the virus enters the body, it destroys the immune system. HIV infection can progress to the final stage called AIDS.

If you’re pregnant and living with HIV, you can pass on the virus to your baby. The transmission can occur during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.

A pregnant woman with HIV can have breast milk infected with HIV. So, the baby nursed at its mother’s breast can have chance of contracting the virus. To protect your baby from breastfeeding, you should avoid breastfeeding and give formula instead. If you want to continue to breastfeed, speak to your doctor for more specialist advice.

To protect your baby during pregnancy, you should start treatment immediately. Besides, you should continue following the treatment every day for life.

Related: HIV And AIDS- Silent Killers: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment 


  1. Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is a serious infection that mostly affects the lungs. The disease can also affect other parts of the body like spine, kidneys and brain. To eradicate the infection and prevent complications, anti-tuberculosis medications are recommended.

Women who have tuberculosis and are on medications are advised to stop breastfeeding. In fact, the mother can pass the infection to the baby through breast milk. So, you should pump your milk and have somebody else feed it to your child.


  1. Radiation

Radiation is a therapy used to treat cancer without damaging many healthy cells. Radiation can cause side effects but they are different for each patient. This may depend on the type of radiation, the treated body’s parts and your overall health. Radioactive elements can be transmitted to the baby through breast milk. Nursing moms who are receiving radiation in the chest area are advised to stop breastfeeding. Before the exposure, the mother can pump her milk and store it to feed her baby.

  1. Chemotherapy

Treatment of cancer like chemotherapy can affect the ability to nurse. It can damage your glands or ducts and impact your breast milk production. Radioactive materials or medications can also be spread to babies through breast milk. These elements can hamper cell division in the baby. Thus, moms who are under chemotherapy are advised not to breastfeed.


  1. Swine flu

Swine flu is a common condition that occurs through contacting with a pig. The disease is caused by H1N1 virus and can be highly contagious. Symptoms include aches, chills and coughs, similar to seasonal flu. Swine flu doesn’t spread through breast milk. But, breastfeeding throughout the course of infection can affect a baby’s health. In fact, any contact between the infected person and the baby can cause infection. To protect your baby, you should:

  • Take medicines to prevent the flu
  • Avoid sneezing or coughing in the baby’s face while breastfeeding your baby
  • Wear a face mask all the times

Doctors recommend you don’t stop breastfeeding if your baby becomes sick. Breast milk can produce antibodies to fight off infections.


  1. Leukaemia

 Leukaemia is a disease of the cells in the body. Nursing mothers who have this disease are advised not to breastfeed their babies.

There are many medical conditions that can affect your baby during breastfeeding. If you’re suffering from one of these conditions, consult your for specialist advice.


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