Breastfeeding: Parental education and support
- Richard J Schanler, MD
Richard J Schanler, MD
- Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine
- Debra C Potak, RN, BSN, IBCLC
Debra C Potak, RN, BSN, IBCLC
- Lactation Consultant
- Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York at North Shore
- Section Editors
- Steven A Abrams, MD
Steven A Abrams, MD
- Section Editor — Neonatology
- Professor, Department of Pediatrics
- Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin
- Teresa K Duryea, MD
Teresa K Duryea, MD
- Section Editor — General Pediatrics
- Associate Professor of Pediatrics
- Baylor College of Medicine
Human milk is recognized as the optimal feeding for all infants because of its proven health benefits to infants and their mothers. The World Health Organization (WHO), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and the United States Preventive Services Task Force all recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life [1-4]. (See "Infant benefits of breastfeeding" and "Maternal and economic benefits of breastfeeding".)
The factors that influence the parental decision on whether to breastfeed and the professional support required for successful initiation and maintenance of breastfeeding will be reviewed here. The initiation of breastfeeding at birth, the composition of human milk, and complications of breastfeeding are discussed separately. (See "Initiation of breastfeeding" and "Nutritional composition of human milk for full-term infants" and "Common problems of breastfeeding and weaning".)
PARENTAL FACTORS IN FEEDING CHOICE
Understanding what factors are important in the parents' decision in choosing and maintaining breastfeeding over formula feeding enables health care professionals to provide education and support that promotes breastfeeding. In particular, identifying and addressing the factors that impede initiation of breastfeeding and the reasons for early termination will improve breastfeeding rates.
Barriers to breastfeeding — Identifying barriers to breastfeeding helps to direct efforts to address the factors that negatively impact breastfeeding and to focus programmatic resources on families that are most likely not to breastfeed.
Initiation of breastfeeding — About 80 percent of women in the United States initiate breastfeeding, a substantial increase since 2000 [5,6]. Failure to initiate breastfeeding is associated with the following maternal characteristics :
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- PARENTAL FACTORS IN FEEDING CHOICE
- Barriers to breastfeeding
- - Initiation of breastfeeding
- - Maintenance of breastfeeding
- SUPPORT AND EDUCATIONAL INTERVENTIONS
- Effectiveness of promotion interventions
- - Lactation support
- - Educational resources
- - Maintaining breastfeeding
- CLINICIAN'S ROLE
- - Contraindications
- - Prenatal breast assessment
- Maternal diet
- Subsequent pregnancy
- INFORMATION FOR PATIENTS
- SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS