My older and younger sisters have each taken very different approaches to breastfeeding in regards to duration. However, they both had that choice. Unfortunately, some women are forced to stop breastfeeding due to elements outside of their control. In a survey that included over 1100 mothers, women were asked whether or not they breastfed their child for as long as they wanted. The survey also included a list of 32 different reasons for ending the breastfeeding time early, and the women were asked to rate the reasons from most important to least important on a 4-point Likert scale. The survey concluded that most mothers who stopped breastfeeding early did so because of infant nutrition, a maternal need for medication that the child could not ingest, and infant illness.

The benefits of breastfeeding are undeniable. Not only does it allow you to bond with your newborn, but it also provides the best diet for your child and gives your child much-needed antibodies and natural chemicals to fight off disease and infection. It can also help you lose pregnancy weight faster and it’s much cheaper than buying formula. However, there are downsides to breastfeeding as well. In some cases, many moms have to give up breastfeeding before they want to, but it can lead to some benefits. If you need to take medication that your child can’t ingest, you will have to stop breastfeeding. You may not want to stop, but one positive is that feeding duties can now be split between you and your spouse, and you no longer have to spend the extra time pumping milk. Breastfeeding is often stressful for the mother, especially working mothers, and stress can lead to illness and exhaustion.

Thankfully, many instant formulas these days are much better than they used to be, and doctors recommend any iron-fortified formula that uses cow’s milk, regardless of brand. If you need to stop breastfeeding because of infant illness, this should be a comfort to you as well. Though you lose out on the bonding time with your newborn, many modern formulas have been very successful at matching the ingredients and nutritional proportions of instant formula to that of breast milk. This has also been beneficial for infants that don’t get the nutrients they need from their mothers, which can happen when women have problems with lactation, or find breastfeeding too painful.


  • Odom, E. C., Li, R., Scanlon, K. S., Perrine, C. G., & Grummer-Strawn, L. (2013). Reasons for earlier than desired cessation of breastfeeding. Pediatrics,131(3), 726-732.
  • Benaroch, R. (2012, July 12). Breast vs. bottle for feeding your baby. WebMD.