Moms need help to overcome breastfeeding worries, study says

July 11, 2013

More support is needed to help women overcome doubts in the hope that they will breastfeed their babies for longer, says a University of Alberta nutrition researcher.

A study conducted by the University of Alberta in Canada found that new moms are weaning their infants early instead of feeding them just for the first six months of life, said Anna Farmer, an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science and the Centre for Health Promotion Studies. That falls below recommendations made by the World Health Organization and endorsed in 2004 by Health Canada and the Canadian Paediatric Society.

"Women's attitudes towards even before the baby is born can predict whether or not moms are going to breastfeed, so it is important that everything from the to supports nursing moms," said Farmer. "We need to address their concerns and misconceptions about breastfeeding, especially young first-time mothers."

Farmer and her colleagues surveyed 402 pregnant at three months postpartum and 300 of them again at the six-month mark, and found that though almost 99 per cent of the women started out breastfeeding their babies, only 54 per cent were still exclusively breastfeeding three months after . That number dropped again to 15 per cent by six months, in line with the national average, which is also low for breastfeeding.

The study, published recently in BMC Pediatrics, found that 54 per cent of the women had neutral attitudes towards breastfeeding, as did 53 per cent of the mothers who fed their infants formula during the first six months after birth. More than half of the women in the study stopped breastfeeding because of their perceptions of milk inadequacy or other problems.

The study also found that women with post-graduate university degrees were 37 per cent more likely to breastfeed exclusively for six months as opposed to those without a degree. As well, mothers with previous children were more likely to breastfeed for longer.

Farmer advises new moms to breastfeed for as long as possible, even on a partial basis. "Some breast milk is better than none."

Farmer hopes the research findings will help doctors, nurses and other health practitioners provide advice to pregnant women with a focus on what may or may not be known about exclusive, long-term breastfeeding, to help promote the practice beyond the first few months after birth.

The study also recommends more policy provision for nursing rooms in public facilities. "The social environment needs to be more open. Women need spaces where they can breastfeed quietly without feeling ashamed," Farmer said.

Explore further: Warning to breastfeeding mothers

Related Stories

Warning to breastfeeding mothers

April 15, 2011

While breastfeeding babies has numerous health advantages to both mother and child, mothers who breastfeed may find that other people look down on them and do not want to work with them. A recent study released by Personality ...

Ovarian cancer risk reduced by prolonged lactation

February 1, 2013

Curtin University researchers have found that women who breastfeed their babies have significantly reduced rates of ovarian cancer in a study that extends what was known about the beneficial effects of breastfeeding on mothers.

Early formula use helps some mothers breastfeed longer

May 13, 2013

Recent public health efforts have focused extensively on reducing the amount of formula babies are given in the hospital after birth. But in the first randomized trial of its kind, researchers at UC San Francisco have found ...

Recommended for you

Youth dance classes score low in physical activity

May 18, 2015

For parents who send their kids to dance classes to get some exercise, a new study from researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine suggests most youth dance classes provide only limited amounts ...

Roller coaster rides trigger pediatric stroke

December 11, 2014

Riding a couple roller coasters at an amusement park appears to have triggered an unusual stroke in a 4-year-old boy, according to a report in the journal Pediatric Neurology.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.