breastfeeding in progress signLadies who have decided to breastfeed and have enjoyed a cake walk are a rare bird in motherhood, according to an albeit not very large study. To mothers who feel alone in your breastfeeding struggle, some data reveals that you are certainly and most definitely not alone.

NPR reports that, “The majority of new mothers try to breast-feed. But it’s not easy.” UC Davis Medical Center researchers surveyed 418 first-time mothers about breastfeeding, nearly all of whom were set on breastfeeding. The survey reportedly spanned from the time these ladies were pregnant to when their babies were two months old. The results mirrored that of similar studies in that only a small portion of these women (13 percent) were able to breastfeed exclusively for the gold standard recommendation of six months. Problems and issues regarding breastfeeding arose right away for nearly all the women surveyed:

…as you might expect, the moms who have trouble with breast-feeding in the first week with a new baby are the ones most likely to give up, a study finds…Three days after giving birth, 92 percent of the new mothers said they were having problems breast-feeding.

Half of the mothers reported problems with getting the baby to latch on to the breast, or other feeding issues like nipple confusion, when a baby may prefer a bottle. And 44 percent said pain was a problem. And 40 percent said they felt that they weren’t producing enough milk.

The most commonly reported problems during the first week were also the ones that made it more likely that a mom would give up.

Because there were reportedly no physical exams of the mothers and babies, researches can only surmise that these new mothers were mistaking their baby’s cues (i.e. “mistaking fussiness for hunger”). Nevertheless, the UC Davis team thinks that these ladies were unable to breastfeed for the same reason ladies are generally unable to exclusively breastfeed (not lack of maternity leave, but good guess). Nope, these ladies need supportive lactation counselors, STAT:

Still, they think the biggest reason that women struggled is that once they left the hospital they lacked access to lactation counselors in that critical first week. Two months after birth, 47 percent of the mothers said they had used formula, and 21 percent said they had stopped breast-feeding.

Just 34 of the women said they had no problems breast-feeding at day three. All but one of them were still exclusively breast-feeding at two months. Those women tended to be younger than 30, Hispanic, had an unmedicated vaginal delivery and said they had strong support for breast-feeding.

Another huge take away from this study is that the researchers didn’t offer the participants a list of answers to pick from when offering their responses. These ladies reportedly “answered

[ed]

in their own words,” making the common sentiments/experiences all the more telling.

The study’s authors concluded that more support for breastfeeding mothers within the first week of delivery could boost our exclusive breastfeeding numbers.

But you knew that already.

(photo: anderdo)