Nearly half of new Australian mothers do not continue exclusively breastfeeding their children beyond two months, research shows, with a lack of support from partners, the use of dummies and obesity cited as contributing factors.
By: Jane Ryan
The World Health Organisation recommends that women exclusively breastfeed their children, where possible, for the first six months of the child’s life.
A University of Tasmania analysis of 22,000 Australian mother and baby pairs found while 96 per cent of mothers breastfed at birth, almost half were interrupting or halting that in the first two months.
The research lead author Jennifer Ayton from the Menzies and the School of Social Sciences said three main factors contributed to a woman’s decision not to continue breastfeeding exclusively.
“The strongest ones were if dads were indifferent,” she said.
“So they didn’t mind which way their babies were fed.
“The second one was regular (use of) dummies and the third one was obesity.
“They don’t cause a woman to stop exclusively breastfeeding, but they do increase the risk.”
However, she maintained the public health message of “breast is best” was getting through.
She said the research was not about apportioning blame, but about working towards longer term breastfeeding, as recommended by healthcare professionals.
She said she was surprised nearly half of women stopped exclusively breastfeeding within two months.
“Also really surprised by the partners’ preference – what a big impact that has on whether the mums continue or not – that was a real surprise,” she said.
“It’s a surprise but it’s expected; the partner is a key support and plays a very important role in that early parenting period.”
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