Why Aren’t Moms Meeting Their Breastfeeding Goals?

In the Pediatrics research article, Baby-Friendly Hospital Practices and Meeting Exclusive Breastfeeding Intention, scheduled for publication in July 2012, the authors conclude that most moms will not meet their personal breastfeeding goals.  According to the Pediatrics study, more than 85% of the new moms in the study said they intended to breastfeed for three months or longer, but just 32.4% met their mark.


The study found that moms who were most likely to meet their goals:

  • Were married
  • Had given birth to other children
  • Started to breastfeed within an hour of birth
  • Had babies who were less likely to be given formula or pacifiers during the hospital stay

 

 Of these findings, breastfeeding exclusively while in the hospital, without giving supplemental formula, was the most significant factor in reaching breastfeeding goals.

So, what were the indicators that correlated with a mother to be less likely to meet her breastfeeding goals? 

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Planning to breastfeed for longer durations

 

Still 32.4% of the moms in the study didn’t meet their goals of exclusively breastfeeding for 3 or more months.  The American Academy of Pediatric recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months. 


We are failing our moms!  

Why is this happening?


Study after study has shown that new moms need breastfeeding support to be able to meet their personal breastfeeding goals.  (Cochrane meta-analysis)

So what does this breastfeedingsupport look like?

  • We need peer to peer support (like a support group) where we can learn from our friends and teach one another about the lost art of breastfeeding.
  • We need access to affordable and effective prenatal breastfeeding classes that are routinely promoted by our OBGYNs and midwives, so that we can increase our breastfeeding initiation rates. 
  • We need capable, caring lactation support in the hospital that can assist us when we need help and guidance, and recommend local breastfeeding support for when we leave.
  • We need hospital practices that support breastfeeding, like skin to skin in the first hour, even after a cesarean birth, and limited visiting hours.
  • We need access to affordable, on-going lactation support, from a trained certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) starting from day one until we decide to wean our baby.
  • We need our health insurance to cover the cost of qualified lactation services, just as they do with routine well-baby check-ups.
  • We need pediatricians to value breastfeeding and recognize that breastfeeding will protect their patients from so many preventable chronic illnesses.  So, when a concern arises about breastfeeding, we need them to immediately share with us breastfeeding resources in the community, both free and for payment.
  • Ideally, we need lactation consultants (IBCLCs) in our pediatricians’ offices so that when issues are brought to our attention at our appointments we can receive immediate and ongoing breastfeeding support and assistance.
  • Lastly, we need formula companies to stop sending free formula to every new mom.  If a mom needs or wants to use formula, she can get it at any local grocery store… no judgment!  Yet, let’s not make it so easy for new moms to succumb to self-doubt.  Do you know that the WebMD article, Most Moms Don't Meet Own Breastfeeding Goals, that first shared these findings from the Pediatrics' study happens to be placed RIGHT NEXT to a HUGE Similac formula advertisement.  Seriously???

 

Why do I think breastfeeding support for all moms is imperative?

 

As a married, breastfeeding in the first hour, and ‘no formula supplementation’ mama, it was the lack of community breastfeeding support that led to me not meeting my personal breastfeeding goals and that is something I will always regret.  When my milk was dwindling as my son turned 4 months old, it was never recommended by a health professional to see a lactation consultant to increase my supply.  Why was formula an acceptable substitute for my son in their eyes?  It doesn’t make sense to me.  Why didn't this doctor recommend that I see a lactation consultant?  

My story is not unique.  I meet women every day who feel guilty for not meeting their personal breastfeeding goals.  This doesn't have to continue!

Support, support, support!  It’s what we all deserve for ourselves and our babies!  We need to make this happen NOW!

 

How important was your support system in helping you meet your personal breastfeeding goals?

What other types of support would you add to this list?