Only One Third of Women Meet Exclusive Breastfeeding Goal

by , 06/05/12

Exclusive Breastfeeding Goal, Exclusive Breastfeeding, Exclusive Breastfeeding 3 months, breastfed babies, new moms, breastfeeding moms, postpartum help, breastfeeding support, breast is best, formula fed babies, Exclusively Breastfed

A new prospective study published online in Pediatrics has found that most new mothers say they’ll exclusively breastfeed for 3 months or more, but most aren’t actually meeting that goal. In fact the new research, gleamed from an Infant Feeding Practices Study run by the CDC and FDA shows that just one-third of women who intend to breastfeed exclusively for the first 3 months, manage to do so. Why the difference in women who want to breastfeed and those who actually do?

Cria G. Perrine, PhD, and colleagues at the CDC in Atlanta who ran the study note that hospital practices such as giving supplemental bottle feedings and pacifiers to newborns may stop new moms from reaching their breastfeeding goals. Other theories exist too, such as postpartum maternity care given to new moms can be a strong influence when it comes to breastfeeding success. So for example, a less helpful postpartum nurse may result in a mom who breastfeeds less successfully. Interestingly, according to the researchers, just one Baby-Friendly hospital practice – the practice of zero supplemental feedings, was significantly associated with meeting exclusive breastfeeding goals. This is discouraging news since all Baby-Friendly hospital practices are supposed to improve breastfeeding success. Why do you think so many women aren’t meeting their original breastfeeding goals? Let us know in the comments.

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Image by Flickr User Jerry Bunkers

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4 Responses to “Only One Third of Women Meet Exclusive Breastfeeding Goal”

  1. Caroline M. says:

    I had the opposite experience of this article. When the hospital refused supplemental feedings and pacifiers, even with a very attentive postpartum nursing staff, I couldn’t make it more than 4 weeks before exclusively pumping, which lasted 2-3 weeks. But with my second child, I had nurses who forgot about me in the hospital and didn’t fuss when I used a pacifier with my newborn. There was one time I felt it beneficial to both baby and I to get an ounce or two of formula in my son shortly after birth, and they obliged. With that son, I made it over 6 months EBF. I only stopped then because my job at the time wasn’t supportive and my supply dropped too low. So I guess I’d disagree? I can see the use of all of those things, but for me, the biggest factor in my success was people getting out of my face about how horrible I’d be if I didn’t breastfeed.

  2. Mamajama says:

    Work. My maternity leave was 6 weeks following a C-section since I work for an office that is too small to fall under FMLA and don’t receive short-term disability benefits. We BF as much as possible, but unfortunately moms are expected back to work much sooner in the US than other countries, especially if they work for a company with less than 50 employees (since the company isn’t required to offer the mom ANYTHING in terms of maternity leave).

  3. americanochka says:

    I didn’t meet my goals because my son had a posterior tongue tie that was diagnosed only at 2 months. He didn’t demand enough, so I didn’t produce enough and he didn’t get enough and had dropped from the 60th percentile at birth to the 5th at 2 months. Between that and allergy issues that led to some other poor decisions & poor nutrition, our VERY pro breastfeeding pediatrician said that we’d have to supplement. Working closely with a lactation consultant we have not been able to bring my supply up, so he continues to be supplemented, in fact now he gets only half breastmilk with the ratio decreasing because the supply issues continue.
    So, I guess it’d be helpful if people knew what havoc tongue-ties can wreak and if Lactation consultants were not so expensive, covered by insurance, or accepted as a necessary expense. We’d have seen one earlier if we didn’t rely so much on the thought that “this is natural, we’ll trust nature”.

  4. Jennifer Chait says:

    @americanochka – I agree about lactation consultants being too expensive, and more importantly, too far and few. My VERY large hospital where I had my son had just one lactation consultant on staff – it was insane. As for the tongue issue, that’s a less than ideal situation, and it’s too bad your pro-pediatrician didn’t figure this out sooner, before supply became an issue, but it’s also very uncommon. Study after study shows that very few, (less than 10% or so) of mom+baby teams have actual health issues that make breastfeeding/breast milk feeding (via pumping) impossible.

    We need to step away from saying, “I don’t produce enough” or “Not everyone can breastfeed” which is what many women say, but in truth, according to research, almost everyone can physically and technically breastfeed and produce plenty of milk. It’s the outside issues that halt breastfeeding in this country – poor maternity leave, almost ZERO consultations and support early on, and so on. We need a system that works breastfeeding success into the Family Leave Act and other workplace policy and we need consultations and support at birth and through the first six months, worked into the post-natal experience via doctors appointments, across the board.

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