Breastfeeding :: Encourage breastfeeding for six months

The perfectly natural procedure of breast feeding does not always come that easy to every mum and babe. Often really simple problems such as a baby who does not suck properly, sore breasts or an overly anxious mum can make the whole process too fraught and mums give up.

Now new research is suggesting that a number of factors influence whether a women will give up breastfeeding before the baby can derive any health benefits from it, but with more encouragement and support many more women might persevere.

There are numerous studies which document the health benefits of breastfeeding for the infant, such as a decreased risk of upper respiratory infections and possibly even a reduced risk of dying.

Nevertheless many women forgo breastfeeding altogether or stop it after just a few days or weeks, despite recommendations that a few months of breastfeeding is needed to see a benefit.

In order to get a clear picture of just why some women stop breastfeeding early, Dr. Indu B. Ahluwalia and colleagues, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, analysed data for more than 31,000 women from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment and Monitoring System, which includes information from 31 states and New York City.

The researchers found that thirty-two percent of women did not even attempt to breastfeed and only 51 percent breastfed for longer than 4 weeks.

Another 13 percent stopped within the first month and 4 percent stopped within the first week.

Although mothers who were older and possibly had better socioeconomic resources, were more likely to breastfeed for longer than 4 weeks, perhaps the strongest factor appeared to be quite simply an interest in breastfeeding before the baby was born.

Ahluwalia says that the majority of women who plan to breastfeed before delivery, do, in fact, initiate breastfeeding, and such women were also more likely to continue breastfeeding for recommended durations than women who did not plan to breastfeed.

Commonly expressed reasons for stopping breastfeeding early included sore nipples, insufficient milk supply, infant difficulties, and the perception that the infant was not satiated.

Dr. Ahluwalia emphasises that breastfeeding needs to be discussed between healthcare providers and patients in the prenatal period, but support after delivery is also just as important in order to encourage breastfeeding for the recommended time.

The report is published in the journal Pediatrics, December 2005.

Leave a Comment