Please Note: This post may contain sponsor, affiliate, and/or referral links. Read my full disclosure statement. 

Disclaimer: The information in this post is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider.

5 Signs That Your Care Provider Does Not Support Breastfeeding

5 signsIn a perfect world, all medical care providers would be most concerned with what is best for mother and baby in their particular circumstances. They would offer objective advice and evidence-based research. Compassion and kindness would be icing on the cake, and par for the course. Worrying that your care provider does not support breastfeeding would not even be a concern!

Unfortunately, we all have our biases. Doctors (and nurses, and midwives, etc), like all the rest of us, sometimes let their personal experiences and opinions inform their priorities when deciding how to counsel a patient. Your care provider may be a wonderful source of information and care in many other areas, but if breastfeeding is important to you and not to them, you may want to seek support elsewhere.

Beyond coming right out and asking your care provider’s opinion of breastfeeding (and trusting that their answer isn’t just lip service), how can you tell if they will truly encourage you when nursing becomes difficult? They may not even realize that they have a negative perception of breastfeeding (or an overly-positive view of other options), but as you get to know them it may become apparent that you are not on the same page.

5 Signs That Your Care Provider Does Not Support Breastfeeding

Here are 5 things to watch for (note that I’m using the masculine pronoun simply as a standard – having a female care provider does not guarantee like-mindedness (or open-mindedness either).

1. If he tells you not to be too hopeful about your future breastfeeding experience while you are pregnant, or pressures you to have formula on hand, he likely expects you to “fail.” It may be that this care provider doesn’t believe that the biological norm is important. He may even see man-made (manufactured) infant food as superior. It is also possible that he is not confident in his ability to help you through difficulties and doesn’t want you to hope too much in him. Encouraging you to prepare yourself for potential trials is understandable, but be on guard if his attitude toward breastfeeding is generally discouraging.

2. If he frowns on rooming-in with your newborn, suggests the nursery, or doesn’t allow skin to skin and breastfeeding within the first hour of birth, he likely doesn’t understand how important those early hours are. There are certainly instances where mother and baby need to be separated for a while after birth, but every effort should be made to keep them together – or get them back together quickly regardless of feeding choices. Unfortunately, since bottle feeding has been the norm in recent generations, many care providers see that early bonding and nursing time as a matter of preference and may even value the mother’s “rest” over time  spent with the new baby.

3. If your care provider seems annoyed by your questions or scoffs at your opinions and concerns, he may not be supportive of you in general and won’t be the best help with breastfeeding. It’s very important that he is willing to take the time to answer your questions without making you feel silly for asking them. I remember feeling like the thousands of pages I read about breastfeeding during pregnancy just didn’t translate at all to my actual experiences because breastfeeding issues are so individual. Having a kind and wise care provider to talk with was invaluable.

4. If he tells you there is no value to breastfeeding after a certain point (6 months, 1 year, etc) then you cannot trust that he has done research into breastfeeding. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a minimum of 1 year, and the World Health Organization recommends at least two. The benefits of breastfeeding have no expiration.

5. If he encourages early bottle feeding or even weaning before discussing alternative support then he does not value breastfeeding as the best for baby in most circumstances. And while there are times when it is very important to seek advice about alternatives to breastfeeding and you want a care provider knowledgeable about them, look for someone who suggests those alternatives as a last resort or only if it’s what YOU want. Supplementing at the breast, cup feeding, increasing supply, etc. should all be discussed thoroughly before decisions are made.

If you and your doctor have a good rapport, it may be worthwhile to candidly tell him or her that you feel unsupported and give specific examples of unhelpful or biased advice. You could be an instrument of change in their lives if you are respectful and they are ready to hear what you have to say. However, do not hesitate to seek help (either additional help or alternative care) elsewhere if you feel pressured to make choices you aren’t comfortable with based on your own breastfeeding research. Your baby’s health and happiness are worth more than not upsetting your medical “authority.”

Photo credit Tom Hart:

Photo credit Tom Hart

What are some other examples of evidence that your care provider does not support breastfeeding as much as they could be?

Anjanette Barr is wife to a librarian and mom of four living in Juneau, Alaska and loving the life God has blessed her with. Her days are filled with lots of silly antics and laughter, mountains of laundry, and more love than she could ever hope for or deserve. She blogs at Find her also on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.


  1. What planet are you living on? I think doctors and nurses nowadays are trained to encourage breastfeeding absolutely. This advice is utterly useless.

    • Unfortunately, it has been the experience of many breastfeeding families that some care providers are trained to encourage nursing only as a matter of course but may have no understanding of the type of support those families really need. And just like with any other lifestyle choice, there are plenty of care providers who are hostile toward breastfeeding in varying degrees. I agree that most medical professionals are trained to think and teach that breastfeeding is best, but their level of commitment to assisting a breastfeeding family through trials (before recommending the family give up) varies widely.

    • Maybe it was useless to you, Mona. Perhaps your doctor was amazingly supportive. My son’s pediatrician did not support my breastfeeding at all after a year. She treated me like I was doing a horrible injustice to him and told me all his teeth would rot. If it wasn’t for advice like this helpful list, my own research and mom’s who helped me make the best choice for my child I may have taken her advice. Here on planet Earth, healthcare providers do not necessarily give the most researched information. Maybe we should all be so lucky to live on Planet Mona’ s Experience Only

  2. I can say from personal experience that both the doctor and lactation consultant in the hospital I gave birth to my twins were not very supportive. I suppose, they gave breastfeeding lip-service, but they weren’t overly optimistic that I’d succeed in breastfeeding twins. The lactation consultant sent me home with a “formula feeding schedule” despite the fact that before I left the hospital I was able to pump quite a bit of milk.

    I am glad I had already breastfed two infants or I might have been discouraged and only minimally breastfed my twins. I left the hospital, threw away the formula feeding schedule, and breastfed my twins exclusively. They weaned around 20 months.

  3. Goodness, my OBGYN definitely fits this bill. On many different fronts! I had so many questions about drug-free delivery, cord clamping, breastfeeding and he scoffed at most of them. He told me “Everyone tells me they want to try drug-free and then they end up getting drugs once the pain sets in.” And “he needs more than what you produce before the milk comes in” and “don’t be surprised if it doesn’t work (breastfeeding).” I really feel like he is competent on making sure my son was healthy in the womb and felt at peace during delivery with him there, but he’s definitely very old school and set in his ways. I tried a more modern woman doctor before him (he is my in-laws doctor too) and she basically told me to go read a book and stop asking so many questions (she was supposed to be one of the OBs in the area competent with natural family planning). It’s a bit frustrating to find a good doctor!

    • Oh gracious!! I’m so sorry you had such frustrating experiences!! There’s a big difference between helping your patients understand all the possible outcomes and being a Negative Ned! Geesh! Sometimes doctors are intimidated by all of the information out there that changes so often. Sometimes just annoyed that it’s readily available for anyone to interpret. It’s so nice to have doctors who keep up on the latest, are proud of you for keeping up on the latest, and want to help you understand it with their special training. It just takes a lot of time and effort of communication to be that kind of doctor.

  4. for this post!!! I think especially first time moms can be discouraged by their medical providers thinking they know best, but it’s just not case sometimes. I really hope new jobs get a chance to read this.


  1. […] Am I doing the right thing? Is my baby going to be ok?  Am I making milk? Is he getting enough?  How many ounces has he gained this week? Is the doctor going to push formula? […]

  2. […] feel like something is amiss, there is absolutely nothing wrong with speaking to your baby’s healthcare provider about your concerns. You can also go to your local hospital or birth center’s breastfeeding groups. La Leche […]

  3. […] general, breastfeeding is safe during most pregnancies. You should discuss this issue with your doctor to make sure you are not at risk. The La Leche League, International stands behind breastfeeding […]

  4. […] Breastfeeding declined significantly in the 1950s and 1960s. Many considered breastfeeding to be something only the low class or uneducated people did. It was thought to be disgusting. If you couldn’t afford infant formula you were considered poor and old-fashioned. Many doctors even discouraged it. […]

  5. […] Touch Me, Touch Me Not – Labor and TouchCan You Get Pregnant While Breastfeeding?Changes in Breast Milk During Pregnancy: Production & Composition5 Signs That Your Care Provider Does Not Support Breastfeeding […]

  6. […] to help other moms have a successful and fulfilling nursing journey. Please seek the advice of a trusted medical practitioner before making changes in your breastfeeding […]

Speak Your Mind