Early Breastfeeding Troubles Deter Many Moms

While most new moms initially give breastfeeding a try right after their baby is born, common problems persuade many of them to stop.

New research from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center shows that those who report early concerns or difficulties with breastfeeding are nearly 10 times more likely to quit breastfeeding within two months.

In the study, 92 percent of new moms said they had at least one breastfeeding concern three days after giving birth. The most common concern was the baby not latching on properly, which was a challenge for 52 percent of mothers. Other issues were breastfeeding pain (44 percent of moms) and milk quantity (40 percent of moms).

"Breastfeeding problems were a nearly universal experience in the group of first-time mothers in our study, with some of the most common problems also being the most strongly associated with stopping breastfeeding," said Laurie Nommsen-Rivers, PhD, a researcher in the Perinatal Institute at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and lead investigator of the study in a press release.

The researcher says priority should be given to finding ways to lower the occurrence of breastfeeding problems, and that mothers need to be given immediate support.

Five hundred thirty-two first-time mothers were interviewed six times, beginning in pregnancy and then again at three, seven, 14, 30 and 60 days after given birth. New moms reported thousands of breastfeeding problems and concerns. Those reported at three and seven days postpartum were strongly associated with the subsequent discontinue of breastfeeding.

"Our findings indicate helping mothers meet their breastfeeding goals requires a two-pronged approach: Strengthening protective factors, such as prenatal breastfeeding education and peer support, and ensuring that any concerns that do arise are fully addressed with professional lactation support, especially in those first few days at home,” Dr. Nommsen-Rivers said.

Eight percent of moms didn’t report breastfeeding problems three days after birth. These women had prenatal self-confidence about breastfeeding, were young, had an un-medicated vaginal birth and/or strong social support.

The study is published online in the journal Pediatrics.

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Liz Hayes
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