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. Jason

    On one hand mothers need more time to bond with their babies. On the other hand businesses need employees. It's a real problem that started out when women wanted to have babies AND to work. Women should have to CHOOSE.

    Here's how it should be:
    1. Get married before you have a kid.
    2. Save up a year of pay or be married to someone who makes enough money. If he divorces you, get child support.
    3. Quit work for a year. Or two. Or until your kid is in college.
    4. Try (I mean really try) to breastfeed. If you can't, that's OK; you are still a good mother. Don't give up because you want to be selfish and party at night. You can give up partying for your baby.

    I know that all people aren't affluent enough to do this. If that's so, then you aren't affluent enough to have kids.

    June 21, 2010 at 16:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Helen

    As someone from the UK, it's worth noting that although we have a year's paid maternity leave for women, our rates of breastfeeding are the lowest in Europe and I think also lower than the US.
    We have our own issues to attend to; here it isn't financial implications but social ones. Women here need to be encouraged hugely and we also need a much better support network for women who want to breastfeed but are struggling. I am currently pregnant with my sixth child and have breastfed them all for a minimum of 6 months each – but I was lucky to have the support of incredible midwives.

    Whichever way you look at it, it all comes down to support – whatever form that may take.

    June 21, 2010 at 16:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. dropoutninja

    I only received six weeks unpaid maternity leave for my baby, but I was still able to breastfeed.

    Finding time to pump at a blue collar job (lots of physical labor, minimal breaks) was difficult and required sacrifices. I could only pump once in a shift, and sometimes I had to choose between pumping and eating– and a breastfeeding mother needs even more calories than a pregnant one. My place of work had no private rooms for pumping, so my manager generously gave me his office for pumping.

    While I'm happy I stuck with it for my child's sake and grateful for my manager's support, I understand how other moms in my socioeconomic status are unable to nurse. As income goes down, so does the likelihood of breastfeeding.

    It's also important to note that those of us with mental disorders have to make tough decisions when it comes to medicine, pregnancy, and nursing. My doctor was able to alter some of my medications without terrible side effects (except one setback at the beginning of my pregnancy involving a mental institution– yeah, a mental institution), but other moms aren't so lucky. Mothers with preexisting mental conditions are usually more prone to postpartum depression, especially with the added vulnerability of a change in medicine. If a person has to choose between nursing and sustaining sanity, society should give her a break. While I understand that I could continue nursing my child past one year, I still plan to wean her just to get back on my regular medication.

    Point is, folks should consider a mother's reasons for her choices before they judge.

    P.S. I live in the south, and the worst looks I've gotten while nursing in public were from other women. What's up with that? I'm glad my state has laws saying it's my right to breastfeed in public, but this whole "breastfeed or you're a bad mama but don't do it near me" thing is really weird.

    June 21, 2010 at 16:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Kathy

    I would have loved to have breastfed my son, but he was born with a cleft lip and palate, and could not latch on. I tried to pump, but it took him so long to eat, that I could not take care of his physical needs AND pump...there just weren't enough hours in the day. And when I went back to work, it was impossible. When he was a baby, I wasn't lucky enough to have an office job. I worked on a production line in a manufacturing plant and only got three 20-minute breaks in a 12-hour shift. I had to use that time to eat and use the bathroom!

    Does all this mean that I loved my son any less than a breastfeeding new mother? Absolutely not!! He is my only child and the light of my life and I do everything I possibly can do to make sure he is well and happy (he's 13 now). Breastfeeding just wasn't one of those things.

    Women should not be made to feel inadequate or 'bad mothers' if they don't breastfeed. My son did fine on formula and has never had more than a cold here and there, and a couple of sinus infections in his entire life.

    June 21, 2010 at 17:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. time4change

    I managed to exclusively breastfeed for my son's first six months, and although he is now eating many solids (at 17 months), he is still breastfed 2 – 3 times a day. I must say that those first six months, and really up until his first year mark, were extremely hard on me, as I had to go back to work full-time when he was less than three months old (and then had to pump throughout the day). The sleep deprivation, depression and hormone shifts were not easy, but I was focused on bfeeding him. What is appalling to me is the overall lack of positive family policies at the federal level in the U.S. Comparing our family leave policies to those of so many European countries leaves much to be desired. Our government needs to take a stand in support of families and the very precious first year of our children's lives.

    June 21, 2010 at 17:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. dropoutninja


    BTW, in my state WIC provided me with a brand new electric pump when I told them about the ineffective hand pump I had to use. The policy here is that a mother who works 36+ hours is eligible for the electric pump, and mothers working less than 36 hours receive a hand pump. (Though I think every WIC mother should be provided with an electric pump, considering very few of us who qualify for WIC choose/are able to breastfeed.)


    Depending on your income and where you live, the WIC office may provide you with a pump. Also, my hand pump was used. As long as you boil the relevant pieces for a few minutes you should be fine.

    June 21, 2010 at 17:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. PWS

    I haven't read all the comments so this may have been suggested....
    If you are pregnant, or thinking of getting pregnant, and know you will be going back to work within a month or two of the birth, one thing you can do is start agitating NOW for a room at your workplace to be set aside for breastfeeding mothers. "Lactation stations" are not an unreasonable request in a business of any decent size (aka, larger than a mom & pop store). All you need are a mini fridge (or full size if it is a big business), a comfy chair or two, an electrical outlet or two and some privacy. Running water for rinsing equipment is also nice, but not essential since if need be it can be done a few minutes later in the ladies room.
    I guess if worse came to worst you could also trust your fellow employees enough to store the milk in the break room... In short, NOT a big investment by the company.
    AND, while there are some women who are physically unable to nurse (e.g., those who have had a mastectomy), it really is pretty rare; if you haven't tried it yet don't let all the "I couldn't nurse" stories above scare you off from trying or make you give up. This site obviously selects for people who had problems, not those who didn't, thanks to that (idiotic if well meaning) comment about smoke blowing at the start. It's good for you, it's good for the baby, and it's a money saver. And our species would be long gone if any large percentage of women were unable to breastfeed.

    June 21, 2010 at 17:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Breastfeeder

    Really, I think that a lot of you are making excuses. The chances of a woman not being able to produce ANY, or nutrionally insufficient milk is VERY rare. I think it takes more time and dedication than many woman are willing to give...and if there was more support (and fewer formula samples given at the hospital) then more babies would be breastfed. Unless there is a SERIOUS medical reason for forumla, it shouldn't be used.

    Giving formula to "make baby sleep longer" or to avoid "saggy boobs" is selfish. Babies come first, not our needs anymore.

    June 21, 2010 at 17:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. certified lactation counselor

    I am a lactation counselor and have been an advocate for breastfeeding for the past 6 years although i breastfed my son for three months. As I look forward to doing research in the area of breastfeeding, i have come to appreciate the current studies that focus on maternal and infant health. However, I am more interested in understanding the affects of breastfeeding during the adolescent years. Studies have shown that breastfeeding promotes stronger attachment and bonding. Therefore, What are the pyschosocial affects of breastfeeding?

    June 21, 2010 at 17:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. bcd

    I breastfed both of my children for one year, including pumping while working. I feel fortunate that I was able to do that. Although breast may be best, there are mothers that are not able to do so for a variety of reasons. It is important to recognize this and to support those mothers as well.

    June 21, 2010 at 17:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Jackie

    I am a professional mother of a three-year-old. I tried so hard to breastfeed, but the baby wouldn't latch. I ended up pumping, which put a huge strain on me physically and emotionally, and caused problems in my marriage. I pumped for six months and then quit. I wouldn't do it again, knowing how hard it was.

    I think mothers should do everything in their power to breastfeed, and shouldn't be quick to introduce babies to artificial nipples in the hospital. However, if it just isn't going to work for whatever reasons, then they shouldn't feel guilty about having to formula-feed.

    June 21, 2010 at 17:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Jenifer

    I am a mother of six, including my youngest, a baby of 11 months. My first child was breastfed for about a week. It just didnt work out. I cant remember if it was a problem on his end or mine, but as a young first time mother I just couldnt figure out how to get him to feed properly and so we gave him a bottle. I made the best decision I could.
    I have since had four more children who were breastfed past one year, and this last one is still nursing as well without any supplemental formula (and this last time I went back to work full time at two weeks post-partum with nothing but an Avent manual pump. A little dedication goes a long way).
    My point is, breastfeeding and working can definately be successful if you want it to be, But for whatever reason, if you decide not to nurse or you cant, or the baby cant, then be comfortable with your decision and stop being defensive. Its your choice. Nobody can make you feel inadequate unless you let them.

    June 21, 2010 at 18:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Marcia

    To Jason:
    I got married before I had a kid (10 yrs even).
    I saved up a year of pay and am married to someone who makes enough money. We'e frugal.
    I nursed for >1 year. Exclusively for 5.5 months, at that point he was SO hungry that I started cereal. I wanted to wait 6 months. But after nursing him 5 times in 4 hours on a Saturday morning, it was time. My son never got a lick of formula.

    "I know that all people aren't affluent enough to do this. If that's so, then you aren't affluent enough to have kids."

    I am affluent enough to have kids. I simply choose to work. Full time, part time, one day a week, two hours a day, whatever you choose – simply stating that women shouldn't work at all when they have children is ludicrous.

    June 21, 2010 at 18:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Tess

    mommy-b not sure what your beef with feminism is – they simply gave you a CHOICE, they did not FORCE you to do anything – don't be like those fools that blame "feminism" for everything that is wrong in the world – sheesh!

    I was not BF and was healthy as a horse, many of my BF friends have terrible health problems – I am also the only of my friends to make it to the graduate level – so apparently my health and IQ were not affected very much by being (horror of horror) BOTTLE FED!! My cousin couldn't breast feed her child and he seems perfectly normal for his age, yet oddly enough the nurse at the hospital made my cousin feel like crap because she was unable to nurse him, which horrified me.

    I live in Canada and women publicly breast feed their child and no one bats an eye (of course it can simply be the major city I live in), but in general I have not heard of people being offended by public breast feeding. But my American friends have much different stories to tell (not to generalize, but I am just reporting what they told me) – where they are made to feeling badly for "Publicly exposing themselves". But they have the nerves to tell those who are offended to f*** off and to mind their own business and NOT LOOK, every breast feeding mother has the right to do this. Who cares what a stranger (who obviously has issues) thinks, baby come first!

    I am not sure why this study needed to be reported again – how many times a year does a "new study" come out saying "breast is best" – it constantly keeps coming up, making non BF mothers feel badly. Most women would want to BF but for whatever reason they cannot. BF might be best, but it does not guarantee a smart, wonderful, healthy kid.

    Also, please people, don't assume that just because both parents work that they are neglecting their child. Not everyone works simply to be able to afford two cars, a mansion, giant screen tv etc... sometimes both parents need to work just to make ends meet.

    Let's stop being holier than thou and not judge mothers who do not breast feed and let's not judge mothers and fathers who both work in order to put food on the table. Not having children is not an option, most people want them and just because they have to work and cannot be home with the child is no reason to tell them to not have children, I was a latchkey kid and turned out just fine because I had the love of my parents and they took care of me. I am thankful for the family I have. My mother who worked outside the home and who bottle fed me did an amazing job being a mother. Thanks mom!

    June 21, 2010 at 18:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Jamie

    Every family is different... and every baby is different. Saying breast is best doesn't take into account what is best for mom or dad or the family.

    As a mom of 3, I vote for my sanity. And, yes, I could commitment myself and wake up every hour and be the sole food provider, but I choose not to. Not because I don't adore and love my children, but because for me, it's ok to give a bottle for me to not be tied down. I say great to moms who say breastfeeding is easier than them, but please don't make me feel bad for not exclusively breastfeeding. Mommy guilt is a tough thing.

    I breast fed my first two for 6 months with formula as a supplement. The third time, I am breastfeeding at night and a few times through the day. Most nutrients are from formula because it makes sense for me this time and he's healthy as can be.

    June 21, 2010 at 18:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Ginurse

    A working mother CAN breastfeed a child for six months. I have three toddlers and breastfed each of them exclusively while working full time. I see so many posts here suggesting that the problem is that women don't have long maternity leaves that they do in other country...I wish we did, but we don't. We have to work around this issue. Sitting down with your boss can be quite sufficient in getting the support you need, though it can be a bit uncomfortable. As many have said, after the first six months it becomes so much easier (starting solid foods). It is a lot of work, but in the end it's worth it. I know there are some that can't breastfeed due to medical issues and I don't think they should be negatively judged. I must say though, that I have known MANY couples who have thrown in the towel because it takes too much effort.

    June 21, 2010 at 18:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Otra

    When my first daughter was born, I intended to nurse exclusively for a minimum of 6 months. She just about literally screamed her head off for the first few months of her life, and I finally gave her a bottle at about 4 months. I swear she looked at me with her big brown eyes as if to say, "Aw, come on, Mom. You mean it could have been this easy all along?" As it turned out, she was just a horribly fussy baby in general (has grown into a delightful kid, though!) Her younger sister nursed happily (and nearly constantly) for almost two years. Had visions of sneaking into her dorm room at college so she could have a quick snack. . . . And then one day she just had more interesting/important things to do. Both have been extraordinarily healthy and we are all extremely close. Conclusions? 1. Breast is best, but that doesn't make other options bad. 2. Some babies just cry a lot. Don't assume it's related to nursing (maybe your kid just hates the draperies!) 3. Nothing about babies is forever–the nursing may seem endless, but one day they won't want to anymore. 4. If nursing your baby is causing so much stress that it's having a negative effect on your relationship, break out the bottle for crying out loud (pardon my word choice). It'll be OK!

    June 21, 2010 at 18:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. frances

    I wanted to breast-feed my twins for 6 months or longer, but it didn't work out due to pain and low production. Things don't always work out as desired!

    June 21, 2010 at 18:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. breastfed, pregnant and can't

    I breastfed my son for 22 months and once adopted the thought of "how could someone choose not to breastfeed". However, much later in life and post breast reduction surgery (because nursing for 22 months caused my breasts to grow from a D to a HHH), I can't nurse. I am not pregnant and will not be able to nurse. I have come to realize that there is more to loving and raising a child than breast milk. I've also come to see how breast feeding extremists force their beliefs on others causing those that can't breast feed to feel less than adequate. In some cases, for one reason or another, there is no choice. I am sure I will be the victim of many cruel ignorant critical stares once my baby is born with formula in hand. But at some point we have to remember that being a good mother goes way beyond the 'breast is best' slogan. One of the principals La Leche League is founded on is the basic of "mothers helping mothers". Making someone feel guilty because of their inability to produce milk or follow through with nursing, is just wrong on so many levels. In the world the average breastfed baby is nursed for 4.6 years. In the US that number is much lower. I completely agree that breastmilk is good for a baby but far more important is for a mother to be able to love her child and to have the confidence of knowing that she's doing the best she can in her own circumstances. I personally would like to see more information about formula and how the USDA compares it to breastmilk. I am not going to be able to breastfeed and I don't know anything about formula. There are so many choices and it's very scary when you don't know what the 'best choice' is. I've had to come to terms with the fact that I won't be able to nurse this child. I will deal with those stares politely by sharing why I'm not nursing. Simply in an effort to open closed minds that don't realize that breast may be best but sometimes it's not an option.

    June 21, 2010 at 19:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Ellen

    I couldn't breastfeed. It was established early on that I would not produce enough or any milk at all. My OB/GYN had to ban la leche from my room. And when I say ban, I mean "if you go near that room, you'll no longer be welcome in the hospital unless requested by a specific patient" ban. The bottom line is some can, some can't and as for education for breastfeeding, how about educating people on the concept of "it's a decision made by the mother and and her support system(family) and stay the hell out of it everyone else". I got more hostile looks and more "tisk-tisk's" because my daughter had a bottle in her mouth. And what was said to those disapproving people was "since when was MY choice any of YOUR business".

    June 21, 2010 at 20:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Yasminda

    I breastfeed my first son for 25 months and my second son for 18 months. It was indeed a true dedication of mind, body and soul. The best advice I can give to any mom is breast feed if possible but do not beat yourself up if you can't. The most important thing is to nuture your baby and help them grow regardless if it's from a can or your breast. The formulas these days are not those of 100 years ago.

    June 21, 2010 at 20:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. 3BNE

    I was fortunate enough to be able to stay home with my babies and give them what they needed: exclusive breastfeeding for six months, breastmilk for the first year or two in addition to other foods. I am firmly in favor of legislation that allows moms to stay home with their offspring for the first year, much like almost every civilized country save the US has. If moms could afford to stay home and didn't have to worry about how to feed the baby if they're not there, breastfeeding rates would go up. Most moms want to make it work, but there are factors that make it very difficult. Not forcing moms to return to work at 8 weeks postpartum would be a huge step for many reasons.

    June 21, 2010 at 20:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. canada mom

    In Canada working mom's are entitled to 1 year parental leave after the birth of a child. The mom collects employment insurance for the course of the year. Companies are required by law to grant this time off and ensure that the job is secure upon the mother's return to work. I live in a great country!
    You need to eat a like a pig to get your breast milk to come in...for those who say their children would have starved...such falsehoods. You have to eat double the calories!
    In an age of bubble children where everyone is allergic to everything under the sun..it's the responsible thing to do. I breast fed both my girls exclusively for up to 6 months and then continued to do so up to 2 years after solids were introduced. Breastfeeding is known to prevent allergies. My girls have no food allergies what so ever. I pity those mums who have to carry around epipens and watch out for nut, dairy, wheat allergies. The common element among kids I found that most are not breastfed.

    June 21, 2010 at 20:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Allie G

    My comment is far enough down to possibly not get read, but...

    I'm completely floored at how many women who can, don't breastfeed. This article doesn't attack those who can't and I really don't think the educated in here commenting are either. If you can't, you can't. I can't have kids–I never felt less of a person, never felt the need to seek extrordinary measures to do so. I just can't, and I don't let other people's opinions factor in.

    What floors me are the women who stop or don't even try b/c of vanity or it's messy. If you're worried about that sort of stuff, you probably should have skipped the pregnancy...breast milk is about as organic as you can get for feeding your child. It is created as part of the process of having a child....so it's probably the best option available.

    June 21, 2010 at 20:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Katie

    I find it absolutely unacceptable that breastfeeding is shoved down the throat of every new mother in this country. As others have already stated, there are many cases where is woman is not physically capable of producing breast milk, or the birth mother is not present, or other scenarios. These new mothers should not be criticized for something they cannot control. Further, a woman who deliberately makes the choice that breastfeeding is not for her should not be condemned for not doing what is "best" for her baby. Formula consistently provides all the nutritional benefits needed, and the baby gets to bond with both mother and father (and siblings, and grandparents). My mother chose not to breastfeed me, and I enjoyed perfect health, perfect attendance, and a near perfect SAT score growing up. To say my mother did anything but what was best for me is ludicrous! When I grew up and had my own babies over the last few years, my choice not to breastfeed was an easy one. My two girls are healthy, strong, fit, and active. They are intelligent, curious, and developmentally ahead of their peers.

    Not breastfeeding is not the end of the world, and pressuring a new mother to do something she is not comfortable with can do far more harm than good. The psychological ramifications for the mother under so many different sources of stress are very troublesome. To add guilt over not breastfeeding when there are so many other things to worry about is unnecessary. I think a baby is much better off with a happy, non-breast-feeding mother than an unhappy, guilt-tripped-into-breastfeeding mother.

    Another point that no one ever brings up are the other influential factors that lead some women to breastfeed while others do not, which may also heavily influence a baby's overall health. Socioeconomic background, parents' education level, vaccination schedule, environment, and countless other variables could also contribute to the disparity in incidence of these diseases in breastfed versus formula fed babies.

    June 21, 2010 at 20:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Renate

    I am currently breastfeeding my four month old son( 18lbs 26in). There are literally a thousand reasons why my milk is better than any formula. However, there have been times when I wanted to run to the store and grab some formula, or days when my breasts felt like all the milk had dried up. My son quite taking bottles of my milk at around 6 weeks, he is my ball and chain. Where I go, he goes. So I can definatly see why some mothers would give it up. It's exhausting, if I get the dishes done, I'm happy. However, nobody ever says that being a parent is easy, its tough. My freedom is such a small sacrifice when I think about the short amount of time that I will be able to give my son one of the best gifts I can.Mothers shouldn't give up, there will be tough days, but you'll get through it. To the mothers who are working and breastfeeding, kudos, I don't know how you do it.

    June 21, 2010 at 20:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Lisa Bryant

    I think it's a crock that families cannot afford for mom to stay home. Stop believing you have to have everything society tells you you have to have and start living within your means. My son and daughter-in-law have worked long and hard to get their educations and they work just as hard at their jobs and live frugally. When it comes time for them to have children she WILL stay home with the kids because she wants to and they both think it's best for the kids. It's about making good, quality choices and not choosing to be 'out' for the almighty dollar.

    June 21, 2010 at 20:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. coresadanel

    I wish the Big Bosses of America were more supportive of working mothers. These days, you're Very lucky to get 12 weeks off from work. Most places only offer 6 to 8 weeks. I was given 8 weeks (only because I delivered my daughter by c-section) which was not nearly enough time to adjust to motherhood before being expected to return back to work. I wish we could adapt the Europe maternity leave programs and be offered a full year off if we wanted it. Or at least 6 months would be nice! Also, my husband was only given a week which blew my mind. Fathers need time off to adjust to parenthood also, especially with baby #1... oh well, what else can we expect in "money-driven" America?

    June 21, 2010 at 20:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. coresadanel

    Being a dancer all my life, I am very small chested and wasn't able to produce enough milk to substain an infant on "breast-only" for 6 months. I was able to fulfill her dietary needs for about 7 weeks before we also added formula to her diet, but I continued to breast-feed two to three times a day until she was 8 months old. I was very upset that my body was unable to produce more for my daughter, but I am proud of what I could do for those important first months of her life.

    June 21, 2010 at 21:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. jdsb

    I breastfed my first child for 13 months and my second for over two years. I'm currently pregnant with my third child and plan to do the same. I hope to get to the two year mark and hopefully longer with this one. There are so many benefits not only for the baby but also for the mother.

    June 21, 2010 at 21:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Erob

    James Akre, you are an idiot of the highest caliber and shouldn't be allowed to procreate.

    June 21, 2010 at 22:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. BreastIsBest

    Too many mothers stop breastfeeding too soon for a lot of reasons. It would help if businesses were required to provide a quite place and time for a mother to pump at work. Also, malls and public buildings should provide a comfortable place to breast feed. I often ended up feeding my children sitting on toilets for lack of a private place. As a society we need to be more open to the concept of breast feeding. Some of my own family was not comfortable being in the same room with me as I fed. Not cool!!!

    I hate hearing people say they can't feed because they don't make enough milk. That is extremely rare. After the first few days the breasts don't feel full, but still make enough milk. If there really is a supply issue there are supplements out there and things you can do like frequent pumping to build the supply back up. La Leche recommends a fed in. Nothing but you and the baby for a day, feeding, sleeping and cuddling. That will build back the supply like you would not believe.

    If you are trying to breast feed and having issues, find a breast feeding support group – don't give up. I managed to successfully breast feed my three children even with Thrush, one child being tounge tied, another being a preemie and working. It was hard work – but 90% of women are capable of breast feeding if they are willing to put the work into it.

    If you try all that and it still doesn't work – then no big. Don't beat yourself up. Just give the baby a bottle and move on. Mothers should not be judging other mothers. The job is hard enough.

    June 21, 2010 at 22:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Gwen2

    Evidently every single person in the US who medically could not produce enough breasatmeilk or who's child has a true milk allergy has posted on here..... Of course there are womene who do have difficulty producing enough breastmilk for exclusive feeding for the first 6 months, however it is usually due to personal choices (breast augmentation, work obligations, personal preference), so let's not sugar coat this. If you don't want to breastfeed then don't, just quit making excuses for it. Quit making remarks that somehow your child is better off without the breastmilk, they're not, they're just lucky. Quit making remarks about how you (or your wife, why isn't she posting) had some issue with breatfeeding. True production issues are rarely seen for women without augmentation. General anestethia is safe 9 hours after surgery. Women have way too many c-sections in this country and they still breastfeed, so the surgery excuse is out. You are required by law to have a certain amount of time off durring your work day, use it to do more than think up excuses.Don't breastfeed if you don't want to, or try and see what happens, just stop making up BS to make yourself feel better! Breast IS best, that's what they're for!

    June 21, 2010 at 22:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. cathie

    I breastfed Twin boys for 3months and my daughter until she was nearly 3 years old. As some else mentioned it does take about 3 weeks for your milk to become fully established and many frequent feedings then it's easy street after that. I only wish I could have had more children because it was great ! All 3 of my children were A students I believe that breastfeeding had something to do with that.

    June 21, 2010 at 23:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Gatlin

    TO NATALIE: What kind of a full time job did you have or are you making this up to spite the people who have had difficulty breastfeeding? I work in a prison. Can you see yourself pumping milk in the bathroom at a prison? Go back to LaLecheLeague's website if you feel so outnumbered here.

    June 21, 2010 at 23:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Gatlin

    Thank you Mei. No one ever reveals the socio-economic status of these mothers participating in these studies.

    June 21, 2010 at 23:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. DA

    I am a stay at home mom; I left a high paying job to have my baby. I am fortunate to have a husband who makes enough for me to stay at home and care for our son. He is 9months old and exclusively breast fed. immigrating to the US from a third world country, I find it appalling that American women do not get enough maternity leave to take care of their newborns. And this is the world's most powerful, industrial and one of the richest nations!! Where are the pro-lifers who rant so much before the baby is born but simply abandon them once the baby takes it's first breath?

    June 21, 2010 at 23:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Artria

    I have been reading about many mothers who could not lactate enough milk or who had to work a job with no way to pump. First of all, breastfeeding is a learned skill between mother and child from the moment the child is laid on the mothers chest. You have a scent. You need to be confident in yourself and try your best for as long as you can and stop making excuses. Learn from every experience. READ as much as you can while pregnant about new motherhood and child care. There is so much to read online from many baby websites. Jot down what you like and move on aka make notes. Expect difficulty, because motherhood is a full time job that doesn't come completely natural. Every child and house hold is different, too. Breast milk is meant to be THE meal for the first five months. We haven't had Formula forever. Animals milk or another mother used to be the only way to go if mother had an issue preventing her from feeding her child.

    What is going on now is that there are too many capable mothers depending on formula and its expensive so a child might end up malnourished when the family can't afford it and can't or wont get help from government programs. Sure the government could set laws for the work place. A private room with ten minute breaks for pumping every two to three hours. That would be great and the easiest way. However, women need at least three months to heal not just physically, but emotionally before going back to work.

    June 22, 2010 at 00:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. jh

    Several posters argue that it's very hard for a working mother to breastfeed and that it's very hard, in today's economy, to be a stay-at-home mom.

    On the first count, the article and numerous posters, point out that it is possible to breastfeed while working full time, though it certainly takes planning and dedication.

    On the second count, many more families could choose to have one parent stay at home with their children, but they're often not willing to make the lifestyle (i.e. spending) adjustments that might require. There are many cases where both parents work but then spend far more on daycare and other expenses than one of them makes. It's all about priorities and planning.

    June 22, 2010 at 00:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. really

    First of all, I'm tired of the backlash against moms who exclusively breastfeed, pump, nurse in public (discreetly, I may add) and then get heat because our choice is seen as an affront of those who do not nurse. I am a big advocate of breastfeeding, but that doesn't mean I hate formula feeders.

    Here's the way I see it: breastmilk is normal, and it's what humans have required to survive infancy for centuries. Only recently has formula been an option. There are valid reasons for use of formula, but it's a back-up plan. I have spent 7 years of my life nursing my children (all 4 of them). I still managed to hold down a full-time job, pump, and even get away by myself at times. Was it difficult? You bet.

    If the circumstances are right (excellent support, no precluding medical conditions), you can make it work. Ultimately, the decision lies in the hands of the mom. Support moms so they can do what is right in their situation.

    With a decade of gestating and lactating behind me, I can say that the benefits to my children are evident. They are very healthy and lean. Breastfeeding has been documented as helping children learn their hunger signals and maintain weight. My kids are not a statistic of childhood obesity. No, that doesn't mean FF kids will be fat, but my BF kids got a bonus. I got a bonus, too – significantly reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancers. That doesn't mean I can't get those, but I'm happy to tip the odds somewhat.

    As for those who think you have to stay at home, it's not always possible (literally) – please consider paying teachers a living wage! On a single teacher salary, my kids qualify for free lunch (I found out when my husband was out of work briefly). In this economy, we do have to protect income sources (and health insurance sources...).

    Bottom line: let's get past the politics of breastfeeding, support ALL moms, and do what kids need us to do.

    June 22, 2010 at 01:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Nicole

    Of course breastmilk is best. It is the most natural and especially made for our newborns. However, I think people should not be judged when they choose not to breastfeed or circumstances do not permit them. I also do think people should respect those that do and see it in a very natural way. I am disgusted when ppl see it in any other way than that. I remember my brother in law's wife having a fit because when she went to lift the blanket (I was outsite facing away from them and completely covered), I told her oh no please, baby is feeding.The only way she knew I was breastfeeding was because I told her not to lift blanket. She went off saying that my husband was not the only one there. I was shocked and I told her that I did not understand why because they were on the other part of the yard, my back facing them AND I was completely covered-although I am not bothered by others exposing skin, I choose to be discreet. She was ignorant. Yet, it is okay for us to go to the beach and wear a bikini-there you see more of the cleavage. I breastfed all of my children, and I encourage it, but I respect others who dont. I also think it is better some than none. Some people have harder times than others. I produced a lot, but having babies prematurely, pumping always, with time, it caused my milk to decrease too. When I went to work, I pumped but it still went down hill. I think that circumstances vary person to person. Just because a person had it so successful, they shouldnt say oh I did it, so can you. Of course anything is possible, but we must respect and be open minded. I will say that switching to formula wasnt too pleasant. I saw a huge change and of course mommy's milk is always best. We just have to always be sensitive to other people's situations.



    June 22, 2010 at 03:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Time to walk the talk, USA

    I am a career woman & US expatriate who had a baby in Europe while working a fast paced job. While I believe strongly that I am very lucky to be an American, we need to walk the talk on this topic. I took off only 9 weeks while pressured for less as I am still on American vacation policies -and my co-workers took off from 15 weeks to 2 years. (Many are unpaid after 3+ months dependent on the country- but the time off is a mandatory legal option)
    I fed / pumped exclusively for 4 months and it was incredibly hard, especially while doing minor travel for my job -as there are no lactation rooms because the women are off ! After 4 months and a lot of stress, I reluctantly began to reduce and felt like a failure, especially after reading these types of articles -my goal was a minimum of 6 months. I probably wouldn't have even been that successful except for the fact that I received 5 days of care in the hospital after birth- mostly so the nurses can teach you how to breastfeed and make sure you get training with a newborn !
    Fortunately, my daughter is healthy and happy and in a government monitored daycare (subsized for 1/2 the cost of US daycare, 60% of the women here work full time) – but one thing I distinctly notice here is that allergies / health issues for both children and adults are not common ! Obesity is almost non-existent, and people are amazed when I tell them that peanuts/ nuts and other items are not allowed in many US schools as they are now considered allergic to so many kids.
    My point : It seems that our tax dollars (yes, I still pay to be a citizen) are being spent anyway on enormous reactive type health care costs for children and eventually adults like diabetes- so why not get ahead of this and allow even the option of time off and the health care services to support it?
    All parents, not just women, should speak up to this to our lawmakers – for the health reasons alone !

    June 22, 2010 at 05:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Elizabeth

    I DON'T believe "if possible" should be included. The recommendations for exercise don't include it, even though many handicapped people can't meet '30 minutes 3x a week'. The food pyramid doesn't have a special side section for the lactose intolerant or vegetarians. Health recommendations (please note this is not a requirement) are usually blanket statements.

    And again I'm tired of "breast is best". Its NOT. Its the biological norm and anything else is 'worse than normal'. Sometimes formula needs to be used because of a medical reason (including milk insufficiency which is over-diagnosed and under-treated) and that is OKAY!! I never felt guilty when I had to be on medication for my PCOS, my stepmom doesn't feel guilty when she has to use her wheelchair, and no mom should feel guilty for making sure her baby has food when breastmilk is unavailable.

    I also agree that the US needs a better maternity leave policy. '6 weeks paid leave' is hardly enough to get your supply up enough to pump during work and many women decide to give up prematurely and use formula from birth. Is this better for the mom? No. Is this better for the baby? No. The only ones who benefit from our current policy are employers (and formula manufacturers). We as a society need to start valuing mothers and their milk and start giving at least 6 months paid maternity leave or we're going to keep running into the same obstacles again and again.

    June 22, 2010 at 08:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. leslie

    This country definitely needs to provide more support for working mothers of newborns. I'm a working mom and breastfeeding my daughter. It is very, very, very hard. I went back to work after 6 weeks because my husband and I could not afford for me to stay home any longer. I'm exhausted and half crazy with hormones and lack of sleep.
    I'm lucky to have a job that gives me the flexibility to pump 3 times a day. I also pump twice a day at home to have enough milk for daycare. At home, it seems like I'm either pumping, nursing my baby, or washing bottles and freezing milk.
    I'm happy to do it, and not complaining, just pointing out that it is very hard. Employers, families, and the rest of society need to be more supportive.

    June 22, 2010 at 08:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Cricket

    I nursed both of my children. The first was not easy and I could have given up many times. The benefits for both mother and child are great. My children have been healthy and my body looks better than before I had them. I worked with one child and stayed home with the other. I remember doing jury duty and pumping in the deliberation room. Thats right our government did not provide a "nursing room" but who cares. Stop making excuses, you can breastfeed if you want to (very rare not to produce milk, like 3% of the entire population), you can stay home if you have a mate who will help support you (no vacations, maybe no car but it can be done), but truly if you have an aversion your child will feel it so thats when you should formula feed. Remember though formula can be recalled just like beef and someone is making a lot of money from the sale of formula. Over all our country is not family oriented because if it was we would have a much more progressive family leave act that included equal time for mothers and fathers to saty home with infants. Large corporations would help provide child care centers on premise so that workers (men or women) could feed children whether it be breast, bottle or formula. There is something very unnatural to have children away from parents so much of the day. Just think how much more productive the work force wold be if we weren't constantly worrying about the welfare of our children whiel we worked an outside job. It would benefit corporation, society, families and neighbors.

    June 22, 2010 at 10:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. mommy love

    @gwen2, you really do not have a clue. I never had surgery on my breasts, did not have a c-section, stayed home with my children and yet, still did not produce enough milk. I literally went on all day nursing fests, followed by pumping, trying to get my supply up. I did this for weeks. A starving child is my cue to get some food into him. when it isn't coming from my breasts at 2 weeks old, where should it come from? Should I have starved my child so that he could have exclusively breastfeed? Having to rush him to the ER for dehydration is a scary wakeup call. A baby needs to eat. there is no BS about that. How dare you pass judgment on anyone who cannot breastfeed and tell them they are making it up and full of BS. Obviously, you never had supply issues or you are an expert with your so called "facts" about why women do not produce enough milk. I wish that every single woman who believes that there is no possible way for a mom to lack supply to have a supply issue of her own from day 1, and then see what it is like to see your child crying with hunger and end up in the ER. How judgmental would you be then?

    June 22, 2010 at 11:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. JLC

    I am a mother of an 18-month old and expecting my second child in September. I nursed my first child, and though I was thrilled to be able to do so, the process was very difficult and emotional and wonderful all at the same time. I felt like a failure many times in those first few weeks when my child and I struggled with latching on and I worried day and night that I was going my child some sort of disservice because I feared she wasn't getting enough nourishment because of our struggles. But I sought help (mostly on my own dime, as insurance didn't cover much after I was discharged from the hospital), but I was determined to make it work, and eventually I did. But the struggles returned when I had to go back to work, as I had a (male) boss that found breastfeeding "icky" and I think offensive, so I was put in a position where pumping wasn't much of an option. It got to where my child had to have formula during the day and I nursed her first thing and last thing at home. It was the best I could do, and I was happy to do it.

    That said, those that are lucky enough to deliver a baby and instantly be able to breastfeed without struggle are very lucky. And those that can afford to stay at home and therefore nurse all day/pump all day are luckier still. I think people just expect that because breastfeeding is supposed to be a natural thing, that it also supposed to be an EASY thing, and that is not the case at all – just look at my struggles. Therefore, I agree that it's best, but I also think it's a matter of personal choice.

    June 22, 2010 at 12:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. graciegal

    This is what the "advent of technology" brings. Back a few centuries, if a mother couldnt produce milk, the infant died. There was no "I can't make milk so let's feed it synthetic formula and hope for the best." So now a plethora of babies have issues because we are allowing them to thrive when they wouldn't have before.

    June 22, 2010 at 13:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. graciegal

    And, regarding formula, you do know that soy = estrogen and the minute you start feeding your baby girl or boy these products you're introducing these s*x hormones into their bodies when they shouldn't be there for another 14 years, right? MAJOR ramifications later in life.

    June 22, 2010 at 13:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Formula saves lives

    Of the 5 women I know (including myself) who have had babies in the last 2 years, only 2 of us were able to breastfeed at all. Of the three that couldn't breastfeed, two of them NEVER produced even a tablespoon of milk. Lactation consultations, doctors and acupuncturists were hired by both. Thousands were spent and not an ounce ever came for either of them. The third, developed epilepsy during pregnancy– the medications prevent her from feeding her daughter.

    Plenty of people simply cannot breastfeed. Fact.

    My friends would have traded anything to be able to breastfeed and face accusing stares and rude unsolicited advise where ever they go.

    I was out with one of them when her son was 3 months old– and a woman came up to us, as my friend fed her son formula from a bottle. The woman said "A THOUSAND BABIES ARE KILLED BY FORMULA EVERY YEAR" and gave my friend a scrap of paper with web addresses for Kellymom and the Le Leche League. My friend was in tears as I berated the woman up and down– basically chasing her out of the coffee shop.

    Have some respect and compassion for these women– who really truly cannot feed their babies breast milk. And, don't assume that a woman feeding her child formula is a bad mother. Offer her respect instead, because, she's doing what she had to do to feed her child.

    I am thankful to be able to breastfeed my child, when I know so many people who simply cannot. FORMULA SAVES LIVES– and my three friends children could have starved without it.

    June 22, 2010 at 15:32 | Report abuse | Reply
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