June 21st, 2010
08:59 AM ET

New study supports exclusive breastfeeding for first six months

By Miriam Falco
CNN Medical Managing Editor

New research provides more evidence that when moms exclusively breastfeed their newborns and infants for the first six months of life, they can signficantly reduce their baby's risk of serious lung and intestinal infections.

Researchers in the Netherlands looked at data from more than 4000 infants. They found that babies who were exclusively breastfed for more than four months had a "significant reduction of respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases in infants."  They also found that being breastfed until six months of age seemed to be even more protective and even appeared to reduce the number of infections for the next six months of the child's life.

The study was published in the journal Pediatrics on Monday.

The benefits of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months – where a baby is only given breast milk, no formula or solid food or fruit juice or even water – have been known for a while.  In this study, the benefits of breastfeeding come from what's in the breast milk (which can be fed to the baby by nursing or pumping the milk and then bottle-feeding the infant).

Breast milk not only provides all the nutrients a baby needs but moms are also passing along antibodies,which help protect their little ones from infections that cause diarrhea and pneumonia, the two leading causes of child mortality worldwide according to the World Health Organization. More than 1 million child deaths could be avoided each year if more babies were exclusively breastfed during the first six months of life according to the WHO website.

"We've had various evidence for years that infectious diseases are minimized," says the Dr. Ruth Lawrence, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Breastfeeding. "But we haven't had as much data in a developed country." Lawrence says this new study confirms what the AAP and WHO already recommend – breastfeed six months exclusively if possible.

In addition to the WHO and AAP, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all recommend exclusive breastfeeding of infants until approximately six months of age.

However, according to the CDC's 2009 breastfeeding report card, while nearly three-quarters of babies nationwide start out being breastfed, only one-third of moms were exclusively breastfeeding their babies at three months and only 14 percent were still exclusively breastfeeding at six months.

Pediatricians recognize the challenges new moms face. "It really takes a lot of dedication from the mom's standpoint [to breastfeed] day in and day out for six months," says Dr. Frank Esper, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio.  Esper and Lawrence as well as the CDC and WHO agree more needs to be done to help mothers continue to breastfeed in the United States and worldwide.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.

soundoff (363 Responses)
  1. Almost New Mother

    James, while I appreciate your view that we support women so they can breastfeed their babies after they are born, keep in mind that some women just cannot produce enough breast milk to sustain their baby and thus some type of intervention is necessary (ie formula).

    I would also like to point out that as part of the new healthcare bill passed in the US, effective immediately all companies are required to provide a place (other than a bathroom) for nursing mothers to feed or pump.

    June 21, 2010 at 12:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Kaushik Das

    We had our son only 3 weeks back. Even though I agree to the facts laid on the table, the states and federal government does little to promote the healthy lifestyle.
    My wife works in California and she will probably get about 2 months of benefits to cover up loss of pay. I work in the state of Georgia and we dont get anything whatsoever. Nature definitely thought that both parents are required for children to grow up.
    To continue breastmilk stored in bottles for over 9 hours is less hygenic even though it might be well refrigerated. Added to the fact that bottles are typically made of plastic, with rubber feeder nipples. I wonder how the chemicals enter baby's body, even though at miniscule levels.
    Hope some day someone will work a better system

    June 21, 2010 at 12:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Jen

    We needed a STUDY to tell us this???
    This isn't news!!!!
    This is common human SENSE!!!!!!!!
    Women produce milk after giving birth. Thusly, THIS IS WHAT YOU FEED YOUR CHILD!!!!!
    The ONLY reason I can think of for someone NOT to breast feed, is if it's just NOT working for some reason, or there's another physical problem between the baby or the mother.
    Other than that, WHY would we go against what mother nature has set up for us? It's WHAT IS SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN!!! It's the natural part of life!
    Humans are so dense.

    June 21, 2010 at 12:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Janice Barnes

    Mr. Akre,
    I think the point being with "if possible" is that very often in the United States it is NOT possible. Women in the US are granted up to 12 weeks of UNPAID leave after having a baby, but very often they cannot appord to take that much time. And then their jobs do not make it possible to pump their breasts so that their babies might at least receive the expressed milk by bottle. So "if possible" really does apply. Laws here definatly need to change to make it possible for more women to exclusively breastfeed for longer duration.

    June 21, 2010 at 12:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Bill

    If we had slavishly stuck to a breast only mantra, my daughter would have starved to death before her first month birthday. Thank God my pediatrician isn't stuck in the dark ages and is willing to diagnose based on the situation instead of someone's strange hatred of babyfood companies.

    June 21, 2010 at 12:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Mom

    I agree that, as the article states, . "It really takes a lot of dedication from the mom's standpoint [to breastfeed] day in and day out for six months," however, if you can't offer that kind of dedication to your child are you going to be able to offer the kind of dedication it takes to raise a child at all? I know that times are rough. Money is short for everyone but your child will only be a child for a very short time, and really, in the scheme of things, 6 months is not that long.
    I have four children. I had the first when I was 17 years old. I finished school at a Young Parent high school so I could keep my baby with me. I was the only girl at the school that breastfed past 6 months. They thought I was weird but I knew I was doing the right thing for her. She continued nursing for 16 months and now she is 18 yrs old and a brilliant, healthy young woman.
    I stayed home or only worked part time when all of my kids were small. We went without a lot of extra things so that I could do this. I really believe though that they need a parent home with them more than they need the newest video game or expensive vacations. My youngest three kids are now 17, 11, and 3. All were breastfed until they were about 2 yrs old. The three oldest were placed in gifted programs at school from the time they were in the first grade and all of them are exceptionally healthy. I doubt that this would have been the case if they had been formula fed. I'm sure there are formula fed babies who do well, but why not offer your kids every advantage you possible can. Even if it's inconvenient.

    June 21, 2010 at 12:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Audrey

    I believe if more doctor's actually supported this, U.S. hospitals would be more likely to suggest rooming-in instead of making the parents fight to have their newborn easily accessible instead of floors away in a central nursery.

    Until that happens, I'd say they are still firmly in the pockets of the formula makers.

    June 21, 2010 at 12:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. mominTX

    I am a full time working mother who has breastfed my baby girl for 9 months and counting..., exclusively for 6 months... there is no doubt that pumping and working full time, and breastfeeding, as well as meeting the demands of my family is exhausting, but I also consider it one of the greatest accomplishments of my life. That being said, I have done this all with literally no support from pediatricians or professionals, and until I found the one lactation consultant in my city, I relied only on internet resources, it's ridiculous, everyone (professionals) says they support it, but every time I had a problem or a challenge, the pediatrician would suggest a formula supplement or pedialyte without even blinking, not to mention they recommended starting solids at 4 months (which i ignored). It drives me crazy. There is definitely a need for the American Association of Pediatrics to get on board and more support for working/pumping/breastfeeding mommies out there...

    June 21, 2010 at 12:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. De_in_NCarolina

    I am in my 9th month of pregnancy, and plan to exclusively breast feed for the first few months once my daughter is born. However, breastfeeding for working mothers is definitely a challenge - finding a location and time to pump along with normal day to day work duties is daunting. Employers should work a bit harder to incorporate options for nursing mothers into their facility and health planning. In addition, in the US there is still much taboo about breastfeeding in public. We all here the motto "breast is best", but just a few months ago a mom was put out of a store for breastfeeding her baby publicly.

    I think that this article is great, but I think that as a country we have a long way to go on the practicality of it all.

    June 21, 2010 at 12:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Julia

    They realy have to offer more support to women that feed their babies breastmilk but are pumping. Breastfeeding is not the only option option for breastmilk today.

    June 21, 2010 at 12:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Hopping Happy

    Congratulations! You have now caught up with what CAVE MEN started MILLIONS of years ago! Now, go read up on this thing called the WHEEL...

    June 21, 2010 at 12:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Proud Father & Husband

    The words "If possible" are an absolute necessity. First- the policies of the WHO and the AAP are that- policies. They are not enforceable without action from another body. More importantly, even if they were enforceable, the idea of mandating breastfeeding is absurd, as it means requiring something that it biologically variable. My wife could not produce sufficient milk for our child, and complained years ago about the people who would remind her about the benefits of breastmilk and condescendingly suggest that she was neglecting our child. I told her to blow it off, but I have become increasingly sensitive to her position. Our daugher is now entering the 3rd grade, wihtout ever having had a full meal of breast milk. She has no health problems, and is among the smartest in her class. Breastfeeding is, without doubt, the best option IF POSSIBLE, but removing that phrase will only further the cause of closed-minded crackpots who know nothing beyond their own myopic views of other peoples' lives.

    June 21, 2010 at 12:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. WorkingMom


    Many women want to work. We have professional careers-it's too bad that it is not more socially acceptable for men to stay home with their children. Living on one salary can be hard, but alot of that depends on what you define as a "need"-cable tv, cell phones, etc. That being said, working Moms can breastfeed too. I breastfed my son for 15 months while serving on active duty in the military. I am expecting my second son in another week and I will continue to work and breastfeed. It's not easy, but things worth doing seldom are.

    June 21, 2010 at 13:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Mommy of one

    This is very interesting for me for a number of reasons. First, when I went to the 6 months well-check, we were seen by the nurse practitioner and she almost yelled at me for not giving my baby rice cereal (or other similar solid food) already! I always thought that breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months is the way to go, if you want and are able to do so. I breastfed and pumped for the entire first year, stopped pumping when he was 12 months old and finally stopped breastfeeding when he was 16 months old. Yes, pumping at work is not that easy, especially if the woman does not have a designated area to do so. Fortunately I did and that made a huge difference. I don't think that women who chose not to or are not able to breastfeed should be looked down on....There are plenty of healthy, happy babies who never had any breast milk in their lives!

    June 21, 2010 at 13:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Debra

    How much did they have to spend for this study? Every living being that takes in milk when young does better with their own mother's milk......after all, humans are no different. yes, there are "replacements" for various animal's mother's milk, but it is never as good. And the baby animals all take a different formulation. Each mother's milk is different and is meant for their young. In a country that touts being "family friendly", the US is anything but. Even the old Soviet Union made time during a mother's workshift to breastfeed her infant. Perhaps more mothers in the US would breastfeed if educated and then given the opportunity, instead of hurrying to the bathroom only to have to sit on the toilet in a stall to pump milk for my daughter.

    June 21, 2010 at 13:09 | Report abuse | Reply

    For the breast feeding mother to stay home would be a big improvement and may help with the breastfeeding movement. If that isn't met then we need some enforcement with some law backing guidlines wich will support lactation. I have breastfed for almost a year and the work force does not welcome or support pumping. I will complete my year and some as it is best for my child.Our society is really sad!!! You are frowned apon when feed in public.Did we forget how we got this far in life.

    June 21, 2010 at 13:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Emma

    Case in point: My husband's mother breastfed both of her sons until the ages of 2 1/2 and 3 years of age. At one point her pediatrician had to tell her to stop breastfeeding! While I find it very strange that she was able to breastfeed for that length of time, I also can't help but notice that both of her children have unbelievable immunity. My husband is rarely sick and in 20 years of working has taken only 2 – 3 days of work off due to being sick. His brother also has great immunity, but unfortunately his kids who were not breastfed by his wife are CONSTANTLY sick all year round! Even though she was a stay at home Mom, she decided not to breastfeed. My personal experience with my own siblings (none of whom were breastfed by my mother in the sixties) further reinforces my belief that breastfeeding is far better. All of us have problems with digestion, lactose intolerance and food allergies. My sister had 2 bleeding ulcers at the age of 8 and had to be hospitalized and placed on a special diet. I've personally suffered from irritable bowel, lactose intolerance, upper respiratory infections, sinus infections and food allergies since I was a child. Knowing what I know about my own family, I am conviced that the complete lack of ANY breast milk in my infancy contributed to many of the health issues that I've had to learn to live with throughout my life. Needless to say, I will be breastfeeding my newborn for as long as I can!

    June 21, 2010 at 13:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Kim

    Many people don't realize it, but providing a private place to pump at work, other than the bathroom, is now federal LAW. It is not part of the Family and Medical Leave Act, but instead part of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and was recently passed with Health Care Reform. There are exceptions for small businesses – if providing the unpaid break to pump presents a hardship, but the onus is on the business to prove that. I am an employment attorney, so that's why I know this stuff. I am also the proud Mom of 4 kids, every one of which was breastfed until at least 12 months, and most longer. (One quit on me cold turkey at 12.5 months). Good luck to all you Moms!

    June 21, 2010 at 13:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. jason

    Breast feeding should be pushed in every hospital, The doctors and nurses should urge women to breast feed if she is able to. Instead they push formula on every women that gives birth. The reason is liability AND the moneys given to each hospital from formula companies! Every hospital fears law suits, and it is well documented that very low blood sugar will cause brain damage in newborns, so doctors prefer you to formula feed while in the care of the hospital. Which leads to formula feeding from then on. Nipple confusion be coming a major factor. Instead I believe doctors should push breast feeding, and make sure a new mother is nursing often! There is nothing wrong with formula if a women can not supply breast milk. I feel that a women who doesn't try to breast feed her child at least the first month, is being rather lazy, or is not well informed on what the pro of breast feeding are. #1 they lose weight at a amazing rate, nearly all the baby weight will be gone in 2 months or so. If she sticks to a healthy diet. Last I read there is about 100 ingredients in breast milk that humans can not recreate in formula.

    June 21, 2010 at 13:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Loving Mother

    Loving mother from Florida:
    I realize that some mothers cannot breastfeed for medical reasons.
    However, if you can do it, I urge you to do so. You will never regret your decision to breastfeed - but it is entirely possible you will regret your decision not to breastfeed.

    Please do not let ignorant people influence you. Speak to your physician and your child's pediatrician. The general public and your family may encourage you to do what is easiest. This may not be in you or your child's best interest. Also consider the health benefits for you as the breastfeeding mom. Your breast cancer risk is reduced by every month you breastfeed.

    It also saves considerable money in the short run - and long run. Your child will have a higher IQ if you breastfeed for over a year. This has been shown in UK studies.

    Please seek professional advice and be informed if you do have a choice to breastfeed before you decide not to. You might just save two lives by breastfeeding - your babies' life and your own life.

    June 21, 2010 at 13:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. tiinako

    To quote Newsweek: Milk banks are one place parents turn for supplemental milk. (Estimates of U.S. mothers who cannot physically produce enough milk for their offspring vary. Many women lack support for breast-feeding after they leave a hospital, so it is difficult to know whether those who report insufficient milk are unable to produce, or need help increasing production). Banks take donations from mothers who have pumped extra milk, and combine and pasteurize it to provide milk for babies in need. The banks rigorously screen donors because human milk, like blood, is living tissue, and can transmit diseases such as HIV, hepatitis B, cytalomegalovirus, and bacterial infections. They test donor blood and review health histories, including donor medications, alcohol and tobacco consumption, and lifestyles.

    June 21, 2010 at 13:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. mbct

    I am amazed and appauled by all of the information regarding breast feeding that TOTALLY ignores the chemicals, pesticides and additives that are being passed from mother to child. Right before this article on the CNN web page was information about how chemicals affect the thryoid. What are the ramifications when a pregnant woman/new mother eats strawberries that are sprayed, then eats waxed cukes, then has a processed meal from the grocery store. When are we going to wake up and stop doing medical studies and finding the results that we want to find. No one questions that if a pregnant woman or new mother only ate chemical free food that breast feeding would be best. However that is not the case in our society and in our zeal we are ignoring the facts that are in front of us.

    June 21, 2010 at 13:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Pam

    I am amazed at the number of judgmental people here – particularly judgmental men who will never have to breastfeed.

    I hope to breastfeed, but will not if the lack of sleep leads to depression, if my baby has food allergies that severely restrict my diet, or if I have recurrent infections in the breast. I don't think that I will be a good mother if I am depressed, quite frankly.

    Indeed, my reasons for wanting to breast feed are pretty selfish – I'd rather not go down to the kitchen in the middle of the night to make the baby a bottle, I don't want to haul formula around with me, and I'd like to lose the baby weight at least in part through breastfeeding. But if I get depressed, can't eat, and have painful infections, you can be sure that I'll switch to formula without an ounce of guilt. My brothers and I were formula fed, and are all well above average in physical fitness, health and intelligence.

    June 21, 2010 at 13:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Niki

    I have Breastfed 2 babies, and I feel like the biggest detractor is more the "stigma" of breastfeeding when in public, NOT the fact that maternity leave isn't 1 year.

    In Europe, the act of Breastfeeding is accepted and encouraged. In the US, it's frowned upon and treated the same as pornography or committing a lewd act in public.

    Women are told to either go sit in a dirty public bathroom to nurse, or to just not leave the house.

    That, to me, is a bigger detractor.

    June 21, 2010 at 14:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Milk Donor Mama

    I exclusively nursed my daughter for 6 months, and she continued nursing until 1 month after her 3rd birthday. I was ill with "morning" sickness when she weaned, otherwise who knows, maybe she'd still be nursing at 3 1/2. I'm due with my second child any day now, and intend to do the same with him.

    I also work full time and pumped after returning to work. Due to all the pumping, I had an excessive milk supply. I donated the extra 22 gallons (yes GALLONS) of milk to the Mother's Milk Bank of Ohio. For more info on human milk banking, visit the Human Milk Banking Association of North America website.

    June 21, 2010 at 14:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Lisa

    Thank you so much for pointing out that is safe and absolutely natural to breastfeed a baby. I breastfed my first child for 5 months, I had a lot of issues but never gave up until I stopped producing milk. My doctor helped me and I was fortunate enough to have a boss that allowed me to pump when ever I needed to. Almost five years later I am pregnant with my second child and I plan to do the same. I have my doctor on board, my boss and some great friends who have offered to help me with support along the way this time. I hope I am able to breastfeed longer than five months this time, but I will take what I can get. I wish more mothers realized the importance and benefits of breastfeeding their children.

    June 21, 2010 at 14:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. ZPNYC

    Anyone who has a comment to make *against* breastfeeding, especially the preposterous mbct comment that mother's milk passes pesticides to the baby, must harbor a great deal of shame with their decision to not do what nature intended and what we all know is best for the baby. Instead of what's best for the baby, they did what was best for them. Now ,for some reason, they refuse to come to terms with their selfish decision and want everyone to know that they are still a good parent, nonetheless.
    Not in my book.

    June 21, 2010 at 14:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. mother

    mothers should breast feed (or pump and use the bottle).

    i've heard too much about it just didn't work for me. if that were true, humans as a species wouldn't have last too long. buck up. it is certainly a commitment, but why would any mother not want to give their child the very best?

    June 21, 2010 at 14:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. LEB

    Yeah, yeah, yeah. Stop browbeating women with the "breast is best" method. Don't women have enough social pressure to be perfect women, perfect wives, and perfect moms as it is? We ALL know breastfeeding is ideal, and we don't need yet another study to guilt-trip women into making this particular choice.

    June 21, 2010 at 14:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Kate of La Leche

    Breastmilk is not only perfect – but normal. Anything else is sub-standard. Breastmilk filters out impurities and chemicals. Some medications can pose a risk, but they are in the minority.
    Breast is not best. It's normal.

    June 21, 2010 at 14:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Loved Daughter

    Breast is best... for some. Breast is not best if the baby is lactose intolerant, won't nurse, the mother doesn't produce enough milk, she's HIV positive, or any other number of reasons that prevent breast feeding from being effective. This prevailing mantra causes unnecessary harm to mothers who cannot or should not breastfeed. Everything from the insinuation they're neglectful and abusive to being less of a woman to a failed mother. It also causes harm to babies who should not be breastfed but their mothers are guilted into it.

    June 21, 2010 at 14:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Dr Kate Jones

    To Debra McHugh – you are ignorant and so is your dr.

    Formula actually does more harm than good – it's a substitute. I'm a pediatrician. Breastmilk DOES give your baby everything it needs, and the longer you breastfeed, the better for baby, and mother.

    June 21, 2010 at 14:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. soon to be mommy of 4

    I breastfed my first child for 19 months and my second for 8 months (and only stopped because I was pregnant both times). I am now expecting twins and will hopefully be as successful breast feeding them AND i work full time. But please – all of you people with these opinions about what kind of mother doesnt breast feed etc is ridiculous. It is extremely difficult to breast feed especially when you have other very young children to care for so while some mothers may not breast feed because its too much work, i certainly DO NOT think that is the case for all. It is a very personal choice and families do what they can to make ends meet and keep it all together. I work to help my children have a better life AND because I put myself through business school and actually enjoy my career. Things are different now and I have found that many of the most judgemental people I have come across in the course of the last 3 years I have nursed babies are men. You really have no idea what its like.

    June 21, 2010 at 14:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Frank

    I call BS to this study. My wife made almost no milk, so we supplemented with formula as necessary. Our daughter is off the charts in height and is leaner and much stronger than other babies her age. She could roll onto her back at 2 weeks, and roll from back to front at 1 month. She is 30 inches long and 20lbs at 7 months of age – she towers over the other infants in her daycare.

    If she was exclusively breast fed, she likely would have died of starvation or been extremely underweight and sickly because my wife only made a few drops every hour. She hooked herself up to pumping machines but it simply did not work.

    June 21, 2010 at 14:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Dr Kate Jones

    mbct – Your comment is unfounded. The mother filters out all the chemicals – all the baby gets is goodness. Breastfeeding is not just 'best' but normal, and healthy.

    Dr Kate Jones, Pediatrician.

    June 21, 2010 at 15:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Joe

    HHHmmmmm......I was never breast fed. My wife was never breast fed. Niether of my children were ever breast fed. None of us ever get sick. Maybe it's because we eat right and exercise.

    June 21, 2010 at 15:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. ellie

    I breast-fed both of my children for 8 months. The health and immunity issues are very important but the article and comments seem uninterested in the fact that breastfeeding is a beautiful experience. I still remember the feel of their naked skin on my naked breast and the little hand touching me with love and trust. And it's been over 40 years. I wish that all mothers were given the support ( and the paid leave) that are necessary for that experience and that bonding. I guess that American culture does not love our children as much as we pretend. In Europe more attention is paid to mothers and to health care in general.

    June 21, 2010 at 15:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Barbara

    If a baby even gets a drop of formula, they are not considered to be exclusively breastfed. This is ridiculous, I combination fed (breast milk and supplemental formula) all my kids. I know the numbers would be higher if this was considered to be an acceptable option. Lets see more research on combination feeding-lots of parents do it!

    June 21, 2010 at 15:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Barbara

    Audrey, I don't know where you live, but rooming in is the norm at ALL the hospitals in my area. I would be surprised to find that isn't the case elsewhere.

    June 21, 2010 at 15:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Becca

    Ummm, last time I checked all of the ingredients in formula were subject to the same junk that humans eat. Just because we're higher on the food chain doesn't mean that cows don't eat sprayed food or that the soy and other ingredients aren't either. I'm all for cleaning up the food we eat, but mom ingesting pesticides is a cop out excuse for not encouraging breastfeeding.

    June 21, 2010 at 15:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. momof2

    The "ability" to breastfeed is entirely based on supply and demand– the more you breastfeed, the more milk your body produces. If breastfeeding doesn't seem to work right away, a mom sometimes needs to nurse her baby every hour or every half hour until her supply is diminished. This takes incredible fortitude and commitment but ultimately leads to success–especially with the proper support system in place.

    The women whom I have met that claim they cannot breastfeed gave up too soon and too easily, deciding they were not able to do it since it didn't happen right away for them. Sometimes it takes weeks for milk supply to be established (esp. for first time mothers) and a very strong intent on the mothers part to make it work. Breast size and tissue amount has nothing to do with milk production, but having a drug-free birth can up the chances mom will have a successful go with breastfeeding early on. This is noted in the medical literature.

    My son was exclusively breastfed until he was 9 months old and still, at the age of 15 months, has never, not one time been sick with even a common cold or sniffle. And he is continuing to nurse while I am 5 months pregnant with my second child. I plan to tandem nurse both babies until they are each 2-3 years old (unless they self-wean earlier). Certainly I have encountered my own challenges throughout the past 15 months, but they were all overcome by determining that this is the very best for my baby (it is), and the very best for our family and health.

    As a side note: The WHO ultimately suggests 2-3 years of nursing (though obviously not exclusively after the first 6 months). The benefits of extensive breastfeeding are numerous.

    June 21, 2010 at 15:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. outhere

    It not only takes a lot of dedication for a mother to do this - it takes a lot of dedication from society. And as a society, it is something we in the US have decided is not important. If it was important, we would have better laws dealing with maternity leave to support mothers and children.

    June 21, 2010 at 15:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Doc A

    slow progress....it is law now for employers to provide dedicated space and time during the day for pumping. If you can give your child breast milk do it, if not possible then do what it takes to grow healthy baby anyway!!! it is the best but not all women are the position to do.

    June 21, 2010 at 15:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. outhere

    In response on momof2 -
    You are correct in many situations. I had so many issues with breastfeeding (including my daughter refusing to nurse because of thrush and severe pain for both of us) but fought through it. I weened her from formula at 3 months (we had to supplement during those times) through sheer determination, pumping and nursing around the clock and obviously, very little sleep. But I was only able to do this because I was also able to take 5 months maternity leave. If I only had the government regulated 3, I would have had to have given up at least the goal of exclusively breastfeeding.

    I feel very little sympathy for the women (at least 2 in my life) who stop breastfeeding because they are producing too much milk. I understand that is a hassle but it seems ideal to me....

    June 21, 2010 at 15:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Mom Of Two with another on the way

    As a Mother of two who could not get her first child to latch so pumped around the clock until he was 16 months old, I do understand the frustration of Mother's who have difficulties and are unable to breastfeed. What I don't understand is the semi-hostile feedback for this article that is in no way bashing formula feeding. It is presenting the results of a study.

    I am aware a bias does exist in some communities but I can tell you as a nursing mother (my second child latched) I have gotten stares, glares and snickers while nursing my child in public very very very discretely. Unless you were sitting right next to me and staring at my boob at the moment the baby latched you would see nothing, not my breast, not nipple not even my side or stomach). But none the less people seem to find it offensive. Funny enough I've had several people walk over to see the sweet "sleeping" baby not even realizing he was nursing b/c yes you can be that discrete but somehow people who are looking to be offended will find me and roll their eyes and shake their heads.

    So I while I see bias – it exists on both sides. My heart goes out to those who desperately want to breastfeed and can't and they shouldn't feel any guilt from anywhere but at the same time. I have been there with a low milk supply, a baby who refuses to latch on, and a variety of food allergies & infant reflux issues. That said, articles like this are important because the support for nursing Moms is non-existent in some places and the attitudes towards nursing Moms can be downright hostile as well.

    June 21, 2010 at 16:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. mommy love

    I applaud the comments supporting women, like me, who tried and tried to breast feed and the supply just wasn't there. I tried from day one with my first son and he would latch on, but was starving after I had nothing left to give him. I was made to feel guilty about giving him a bottle, so kept at it. He was then hospitalized at 12 days old for dehydration and losing too much weight. Some women JUST CAN'T supply milk. Mother's tea, all the other things people say to do, don't work for some to boost supply.
    The dirty looks I would get from women out in public when giving my child a bottle of formula made me stay home more and more. They didn't know my child was hooked up to feeding machines and tubes for 4 days at such a young age. They just judged and assumed that I didn't WANT to breast feed. I wanted to breast feed and couldn't. The guilt that goes along with that, thanks to society passing down their judgments about breast feeding being best and the only way to feed a baby, is very difficult to bare. I actually have a friend who emailed me article after article like this one, telling me my child was going to be unhealthy because I gave him formula. Guess what? He is 7 now and has never had an ear infection, tests above grade average in school and is a healthy weight and a healthy kid.
    Moms need to do what is right for them in their situation and society and the judgmental moms of the world (who never have had problems with breast feeding, so cannot comprehend how anyone possibly could not breast feed) need to back off.

    June 21, 2010 at 16:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. working mother

    One thing the US can do to support breast feeding of babies is to extend maternity leave. Max of 12 weeks is pathetic. And it is not like we don't have any examples from other countries where breastfeeding is more commonplace and the maternity leave is longer.

    June 21, 2010 at 16:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. mommy love

    and @ momof2, you have no idea if giving up too soon is the reason for lack of supply with everyone. My son nursed pretty every minute he was awake for 3 weeks, he got very little, if anything at all. With my next child, I tried again and stayed with it for 10 weeks. When he was not breastfeeding, I was pumping trying to boost my supply. Again, it wasn't there. Trust me, I didn't give up.

    June 21, 2010 at 16:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Reilly

    People, these are recommendations, not mandates. I do not understand why mothers who hear that breastfeeding is recommended for at least 6 months, feel like they are being made out to be bad mothers because they don't breastfeed. I breastfed my son for a little over a year (with almost 9 months pumping at work). Was it easy?, no.. Will I do again?, yes, in a heartbeat. Parenthood is not easy or convenient, it requires sacrifices. I honestly don't care whether a mother chooses to breastfeed or not, it's none of my business. However, I get so tired of women using the excuse "I couldn't produce enough, so I stopped." No, you stopped because you didn't want to do it anymore. Now, I know there are women who are unable to nurse or to produce due to medical reasons, and my statement does not apply to them. However, my son did not gain weight or lost weight for the first couple of weeks of his life because I wasn't producing enough. I didn't give up. I kept at it and eventually my production increased. When my production did start to drop, I did whatever I could to try to increase production–ate bowls of oatmeal, drink Mother's Milk tea, etc. Even if my production was not enough for my son, I would have supplemented with formula, while continuing to breastfeed. So, yes, it is a mother's right to choose whether to breastfeed, but if you don't want to, just say it, don't try to come up with excuses just because you think recommendations like these are making you feel guilty.

    June 21, 2010 at 16:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Staci Martin

    Women don't have to stop working and stay at home to breastfeed. Employers need to provide a pumping room and appropriate break time to pump. There way no way I was giving up my awesome job and retirement benefits to stay home...too many women end up on the losing side of retirement by not working...I arranged for an excellent babysitter and pump twice a day....still am at 11 months post partum.

    June 21, 2010 at 16:35 | Report abuse | Reply
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