Skip to content

Health & Parenting

Getting Past Breastfeeding Barriers

Font Size
A
A
A
By
WebMD Health News

Jan. 24, 2001 -- A new study shows conclusively that breastfed infants are protected against intestinal infections and the skin condition atopic eczema. Despite these and other known health benefits, mother-infant bonding, and the brain development issues surrounding breastfeeding, just slightly more than 44% of new mothers breastfeed, and by the time the baby is 6 months old, only 13% of these women are still doing it.

Throughout pregnancy, women hear that "breast is best." In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that mothers breastfeed for at least 12 months. In a policy statement, the AAP says breastfeeding is "primary in achieving optimal infant and child health, growth, and development."

So, why do the mothers often quit breastfeeding too soon?

It's not as easy as it looks, say many who have tried. Problems with sore nipples and mastitis, an inflammation of the mammary glands, are common factors. Also, giving babies pacifiers and formula in their early days seems to deter long-term breast-feeding.

The pressure of returning to work is another issue, although there seems to be a growing trend toward on-site day care and breast-pumping sites.

Doctors agree that any amount of breastfeeding -- even during just the first few weeks -- offers the baby a host of health and developmental benefits. To help new mothers get past the barriers to long-term nursing, WebMD sought advice from a lactation consultant and a pediatrician.

How can mothers know whether they are producing enough milk?

Lactation consultant Cynthia Garrison, BS, IBCLC, of Magee-Women's Hospital in Pittsburgh, tells WebMD: "We often send mothers home with a "feeding log," a real simple chart where they can keep track of the numbers of feedings, wet diapers, and dirty diapers in a 24-hour period, so they see that it's falling within the ranges of normal.

"Because what goes in must come out, we instruct mothers that if baby is having 4-6 wet diapers within the first day, increasing [along with the baby's milk intake] to 6-8, and they're having at least two dirty diapers every day, then life is going quite well. They can be a little more relaxed and understand that as the baby matures, they will start spacing feedings out; they won't need to feed as often. The babies' stomachs are getting bigger."

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Today on WebMD

Girl holding up card with BMI written
Is your child at a healthy weight?
toddler climbing
What happens in your child’s second year.
 
father and son with laundry basket
Get your kids to help around the house.
boy frowning at brocolli
Tips for dealing with mealtime mayhem
 
mother and daughter talking
Tool
child brushing his teeth
Slideshow
 
Sipping hot tea
Slideshow
Young woman holding lip at dentists office
Video
 
Which Vaccines Do Adults Need
Article
rl with friends
fitSlideshow
 
tissue box
Quiz
Child with adhd
Slideshow