A recent study by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that most mothers plan to exclusively breastfeed for at least three months, but only one-third of them actually do.
The World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that mothers breast-feed exclusively (only breast milk and medications or micronutrient supplements, but no other liquids or solids) for about the first six months of their infants’ lives.
Studies have shown that most mothers in the U.S. do not exclusively breastfeed their infants for six months, but little was known about how long mothers had planned to breastfeed. In a new study, “Baby-Friendly Hospital Practices and Meeting Exclusive Breastfeeding Intention,” in the July 2012 issue of Pediatrics, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed pregnant women about their intentions for exclusive breastfeeding and then followed up with monthly surveys over the next year. The study authors found 85 percent of mothers who planned to exclusively breast-feed intended to do so for three months or longer. However, only 32.4 percent of mothers exclusively breast-fed for as long as they intended.
Mothers who were married and who already had a previous baby were more likely to breastfeed as long as they had planned. Other factors that improved the chances a mother would meet her goals included beginning breastfeeding within an hour of birth and not being given supplemental formula feedings or pacifiers in the hospital. Mothers who were obese, smoked or had a longer intended breastfeeding duration were less likely to meet their intention. Study authors conclude that increasing baby-friendly hospital practices, particularly giving only breast milk in the hospital, may help more mothers breastfeed for as long as they intend.
Photo by Mothering Touch.