Early breastfeeding challenges make women quit

Encountering problems at the start means women switch to formula sooner than planned

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Mothers who express early concerns about breastfeeding are 10 times more likely to give it up, according to a study.

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American research found that 92% of new mothers reported at least one breastfeeding concern three days after birth. The most common concern was that their baby was not “latching on” properly.

Others were concerned about breast pain and the quantity of their milk.

A team of researchers interviewed 532 first-time mothers six times. Researchers first interviewed them before their babies were born about their plans for breastfeeding. Then they spoke to them again 24 hours after their baby was born, and the last time they interviewed the mums was 60 days postpartum.

The findings, reported in the journal Pediatrics, said that women who worried from the start about breastfeeding were more likely to switch to formula sooner than those who didn’t.

50 per cent of mothers stopped breastfeeding altogether sooner than they initially planned.

Of the 354 who were planning to exclusively breastfeed for two months, 166 started introducing formula before then.

“It’s a shame that those early problems can be the difference between a baby only getting breast milk for a few days and going on to have a positive breastfeeding relationship for a year or longer,” said one of the authors, Laurie A Nommsen-Rivers.

“If we are able to provide mothers with adequate support, 95% of all breastfeeding problems are reversible.”

“It can be very overwhelming, those first few days at home,” Laurie A Nommsen-Rivers said.

She recommended women take time during their pregnancy to find both friends and professional resources in the community where they can turn if they find breastfeeding challenging.

This comes at a time when breastfeeding has dropped in the UK for the first time in 10 years.

Louise Silverton, the RCM’s director of midwifery told The Guardian: “Breastfeeding is no longer a public health issue. Under the previous government, there was a 10-year infant feeding strategy, but there is no such foundation and framework in place now.

“There is now a lack of health promotion about breastfeeding. There is no longer a national breastfeeding co-ordinator to co-ordinate the country’s strategy or a national strategy, while Wales and Scotland have strategies. Indeed, this government is ‘hands off’ regarding breastfeeding.”

The NHS recommends exclusive breastfeeding until your baby is six-months-old.

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