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Elena Donovan Mauer
Contributing Writer

Only a Third of Moms Reach Their Breastfeeding Goals — How to Boost Your Odds

PUBLISHED ON 06/04/2012

A recent study suggests that most new moms (a vast majority, actually) aren't breastfeeding for as long as they intend to and that hospitals may be able to help others reach their goals.

For the study, published in Pediatrics, researchers questioned women before birth and throughout their babies' first year. Of the women who planned to exclusively breastfeed, more than 85 percent wanted to do it for three months or more. But when they polled the moms afterwards, only 32.4 percent of them had reached their goal duration for breastfeeding.

Researchers examined how hospital practices influenced how long the women breastfed. Breastfeeding-friendly practices they took into account were the opportunity to breastfeed within one hour of birth, giving baby only breast milk, rooming in, breastfeeding on demand, not giving pacifiers and receiving information on breastfeeding support. Beginning breastfeeding within one hour of birth and not being given supplemental feedings or pacifiers were all associated with achieving exclusive breastfeeding goals. But after adjusting the data to account for all other hospital practices, researchers concluded that the only practice significantly associated with longer breastfeeding during was not receiving supplemental feedings. In other words, if you want to breastfeed exclusively, you may be more likely to succeed if you tell the nurses not to give your baby formula.

Also interesting to note is that mothers who were obese, smoked or intended to breastfeed for a very long time were less likely to meet their goal duration.

Did you breastfeeding for longer or shorter than you wanted to? What factors do you think influenced that?