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Initiation of breastfeeding

Richard J Schanler, MD
Debra C Potak, RN, BSN, IBCLC
Section Editors
Steven A Abrams, MD
Teresa K Duryea, MD
Deputy Editor
Alison G Hoppin, MD


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 breastfeeding for the first six months of life [1-4]. (See "Infant benefits of breastfeeding" and "Maternal and economic benefits of breastfeeding".)

In the United States, the Goals for Healthy People 2020 include the initiation of breastfeeding in 82 percent of newborns, and any continued breastfeeding in 61 percent of six month old infants [5]. Successful achievement of these goals is dependent upon health care professionals providing antenatal and postnatal breastfeeding education and support. In particular, the delivery and hospital experience should promote and support initiation of breastfeeding to enhance the probability of successful breastfeeding. As the leader of the health care team, the pediatrician should advocate for breastfeeding, convey its importance as a health care issue and not a lifestyle choice, and be comfortable with directing its assessment and management [3,6].

The initiation of breastfeeding during the birth hospitalization will be reviewed here. Other aspects of breastfeeding are discussed in the following topics:

(See "Breastfeeding: Parental education and support".)

(See "Nutritional composition of human milk for full-term infants".)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Aug 28, 2017.
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