Why Do More Moms Stop Breast-feeding Early?

Breast-feeding is supposed to be a special bonding time for mother and child with added health benefits for newborns. Many new moms even receive lactation counseling at the hospital before they bring Jr. home. So why are so many moms stopping breast-feeding early?


Even though breast-feeding is at the highest rate in at least 20 years according to the CDC, many new moms are quitting earlier than doctors recommend. According to a new study by Brigham Young University three out of four moms start breast-feeding, but only 36 percent of them continue for at least six months. (Although I believe breast-feeding is beneficial for both mom and baby, I also realize breast-feeding is not possible for many moms for a variety of reasons including health concerns.)


According to an interviewin the New York Times with Renata Forste,Brigham Young professor and lead author on the report, support may be thereason. Although education is important to teach the health benefits, moms alsoneed a support network to keep going.  If new moms don't get the personal support from family, friends, and even co-workers, keeping up with the demands of breast-feeding can make a new mom feel overwhelmed in a hurry. 


Unrealistic expectations might also be an issue. Before my first child was born I had been told breast-feeding was going to be simple and very natural. All that encouragementmade sense to me until I realized I needed a breast-feeding manual with an instructional DVD just to figure out how to begin a process that was supposed to be so "simple."


So why is support so important? If you learn how to breast-feed, why would you quit? I liked the special time spent bonding with my babies, but that required extra effort on my part. I had to really watch my diet to help soothe my first who was a colicky baby. I also learned to care for my breasts and nipples so they actually "worked." Things like treating plugged ducts had never occurred to me before. Staying fit meant more than it ever had pre-kids. Pumping breast milk and storing it and transporting it can become a logistical nightmare. Was breast-feeding worth it? Definitely! But I can see how easily a new mom could find it overwhelming.


 How can new moms findsupport they need? If new moms don't get the support they need from their friends, mommy-and-child play groups, or family, they can contact supportive organizations trained to help. Breast-feeding support groups like La Leche League can make what seems impossible possible. And you can even call them at 2 a.m! Online groups and blogs such as the mommy and family blogs at BlogHer and parentingblogs at Village can also offer support 24/7 when you can't talk to a friendly voice near home.


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