New Study Finds Only A Third Of U.S. Moms Who Plan To Breast-Feed Meet Goals
While most American women plan on breast-feeding their newborns, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics finds that fewer than one-third of those who planned to exclusively breast-feed for three months or more met that goal.
The biggest factor in whether or not a woman met her breast feeding goal seemed to be whether a baby received supplemental feedings while in the hospital.
"We found that mothers able to exclusively breast-feed through their hospital stay were more able to meet their breast-feeding intentions," said the study's lead author, Cria Perrine, an epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that babies be breast-fed exclusively for the first six months of their lives, researchers found that only 35 percent of U.S. infants are breast-fed exclusively for three months, and only 15 percent for the recommended six months.
According to the report, while married women and women who had more than one child were more likely to achieve their breast-feeding goals, women who smoked, were obese, or women who intended to breast-feed exclusively for longer durations were less likely to meet their goals.
Although starting breast-feeding within an hour of birth, and not giving the baby supplemental feedings or a pacifier were associated with higher breast-feeding percentages, after adjusting the data to account for all of the hospital's practices, the only statistically significant factor that led to success was not giving babies supplemental feedings. In fact, mothers of babies who weren't given extra feedings were 2.3 times more likely to achieve their breast-feeding goals.
"Breast-feeding needs to be established in the first few days, and if you don't get started then, you probably are not going to be able to stick with it. Our study shows that we're not supporting mothers as much as we need to," said Perrine.
"This study is very consistent with everything else that's been said on breast-feeding," added Dr. Ruby Roy, an assistant professor of pediatrics at LaRabida Children's Hospital in Chicago.
"Making what we think of as simple changes really can have a profound impact on what moms are able to do," she said. For example, "the practice of supplemental feedings usually means that mom and baby are separated for long periods of time, and that's not good for breast-feeding. It means that someone might not be paying attention to when the baby wants to be fed, and by the time baby gets to mom, the baby is so hungry that he or she is wailing."
Roy also said that many women don't ask questions if they experience pain during breast-feeding. Instead, they may just stop. "Pain is not normal. It means something is wrong. Get help. And, expect that breast-feeding is going to take more time and energy than you expect," advised Roy.
[image via HealthDay]