I remember when my second cousin had her boys. We were all excited for a new set of twins in the family, but we were also collectively sympathetic when she decided to breastfeed. Not that we felt she shouldn’t breastfeed, but that breastfeeding twins is a hard job, especially for a first-time mother. She stopped after six months when it became too much and too painful, but I felt she gave it a good run.

It turns out that my cousin held out longer than a lot of first-time mothers who encountered problems with breastfeeding. According to recent research, first-time mother who report having trouble with breastfeeding are 10 times more likely to stop breastfeeding within two months.

A new study reported that 92% of first-time moms experienced at least one problem with breastfeeding only three days after giving birth. The main concern that plagued 52% of the new mothers in the study was that their baby was not latching on properly. Another common concern was that breastfeeding hurt, which was reported by 44% of the women, and that they weren’t producing enough milk, which was reported by 40% of the women.

Dr. Laurie Nommsen-Rivers, a researcher in the Perinatal Institute at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and lead investigator of the study, said that "Breastfeeding problems were a nearly universal experience in the group of first-time mothers in our study, with some of the most common problems also being the most strongly associated with stopping breastfeeding. Priority should be given to enacting strategies for lowering the overall occurrence of breastfeeding problems and, in particular, targeting support for mothers with infant feeding or milk quantity concerns within the first week after leaving the hospital."

The participants of the study included 532 first-time moms. To collect the necessary data, a series of six interviews were held with each woman. They were conducted before pregnancy as well as three, seve, 14, 30, and 60 days after birth. During the interviews researchers received thousands of complaints about breastfeeding concerns and issues.

The remaining 8% of women who did not report any concerns with breastfeeding at the day three interview appeared to have protective factors that prevented them experiencing the typical concerns that eventually led them to formula feed their infants instead. Some of these factors included self-confidence about breastfeeding, youth, strong support from friends and family members, and interestingly enough, unmedicated vaginal birth.

Source: Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center (2013, September 23). Breastfeeding fraught with early challenges for many first-time mothers. ScienceDaily.

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