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Getting Ob-Gyns on Board
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be breastfed for at least a year but only a small percentage of new mothers in the U.S. actually follows the advice.
One problem, Stuebe says, is that ob-gyns have not been as aggressive in promoting the message as pediatricians have.
"I think this drives home how important it is for all health care providers to support breastfeeding," she says. "It is clear that women listen to their obstetricians but not all ob-gyns discuss breastfeeding with their patients."
University of Chicago pediatrics professor Lawrence M. Gartner, MD, agrees. Gartner chaired the AAP committee that updated the group's breastfeeding guidelines earlier this year.
"It is clear that ob-gyns could have an enormous impact on breastfeeding, but, in general, I don't think they are doing as much as they could be doing to promote it," he tells WebMD.
State University of New York obstetrics and gynecology professor Richard H. Aubry, MD, acknowledges that more could be done. But he also notes that the nation's largest group of women's health doctors has taken a strong stand in favor of breastfeeding.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecology recommends that women breastfeed their babies exclusively for at least six months.
"We do try to make this point, but there is a reluctance to beat women over the head with it," he tells WebMD. "I do agree, though, that for the benefit of both the baby and the mother we may need to be more aggressive with this message."