Breastfeeding Struggles Continue
Breast is best, but tell that to a new, first-time mom who's struggling with it. New research suggests as many as 92 percent of breastfeeding moms start getting concerned if breastfeeding is not going right as early as day three.
According to the National Institutes of Health, researchers came up with that number after interviewing more than 500 brand new moms, six different times.
- More than half of them reported overall difficulty at feeding time, things like trouble with the baby latching on
- 44 percent said that breastfeeding was painful
- And 40 percent worried whether the quantity of the breast milk they were producing at the beginning was enough
- Most of the moms who gave up breastfeeding did so by day three, switching over to formula for their babies
An estimated 75 percent of mothers in the United States try to breastfeed, but only 13 percent are exclusively breastfeeding for the recommended six months.
The researchers say these findings suggest more support and education is needed to help first-time moms feel confident breastfeeding, helping them to stick to it for the recommended time.
In Los Angeles County, while 72.5 percent of children ages 0-2 years were exclusively breastfed on the day of birth, this rate dropped drastically to only 45.4 percent by the third day. Exclusive breastfeeding rates dropped to 30.9 percent at three months and to just 9.9 percent at six months.
“Studies show that breastfeeding rates drop after hospital discharge,” said Claudia Molina, program officer II at First 5 LA. “New mothers need education and support to breastfeed. For many, the hospital is the only place where they receive the support they need. Ongoing support and education is needed after mothers leave the hospital.”
First 5 LA supports a number of projects that help moms feel more confident in their breastfeeding, Molina said.
The Baby Friendly Hospital Project supports 14 hospitals (an additional five coming on board in October) in L.A. County to become Baby Friendly designated. Baby Friendly hospitals have higher exclusive breastfeeding rates than other L.A. County and California hospitals. The requirements to become designated include integrating the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding into their maternity practices – which include training nurses and physicians, support and education of mothers on breastfeeding, and implementing policies and procedures that support breastfeeding. Studies show that hospitals that have policies that support breastfeeding have higher exclusive breastfeeding rates.
The other F5LA projects that help moms in their breastfeeding include the Best Babies Collaborative, which is part of the Healthy Births Initiative and Welcome Baby, a home visitation program for pregnant and new mothers that is part of First 5 LA's Best Start effort in 14 Los Angeles County communities These programs offer breastfeeding education and support to mothers prenatally and postpartum. Resources and referrals are also provided for those that need additional support.