new mothers in the United States try to breastfeed their babies, but new
research shows that those who report early concerns or problems with
breastfeeding are nearly 10 times more likely to abandon the effort within two
The study, published
online Sept. 23, 2013, in Pediatrics,
reports that 92 percent of new moms reported at least one breastfeeding concern
three days after birth. Difficulties
with “latching on” were the most predominant concern, reported by 52 percent of
mothers. Other common concerns included breastfeeding pain (44 percent of
mothers) and milk quantity (40 percent of mothers).
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,” says Laurie Nommsen-Rivers, PhD,
a researcher in the Perinatal Institute
at Cincinnati Children’s and lead investigator of the study. “Priority should be given to enacting
strategies for lowering the overall occurrence of breastfeeding problems and,
in particular, targeting support for mothers with infant feeding or milk
quantity concerns within the first week after leaving the hospital.”
research team also included Kathryn Dewey, PhD, and Caroline Chantry, MD, at
the University of California Davis Medical Center, and Erin Wagner, a clinical
research coordinator at Cincinnati Children’s.
conducted six interviews with 532 first-time mothers, beginning in pregnancy,
then at three, seven 14, 30 and 60 days after giving birth. Concerns reported
at days three and seven postpartum were strongly associated with subsequently
stopping breastfeeding, Nommsen-Rivers says.
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.