The Health Benefits Of Breastfeeding

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The term breastfeeding brings many thoughts to mind depending on your background; for some it brings to mind an intimate image of a mother and child bonding, while for others it brings to mind uncomfortable feelings. Regardless of what the feelings are, evidence shows that despite the numerous health benefits, few women are breastfeeding. Breastfeeding rates are lower than the recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. There are low rates of breastfeeding because pediatricians fail to promote breastfeeding effectively while companies market infant formula to make parents believe it is a better option.
Many women spend their first few days in the hospital breastfeeding, but after this, rates diminish due to a variety of factors.
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(CDC, 2014, p. 4).
The rate of mothers’ breastfeeding is low and those breastfeeding exclusively is even lower.
These statistics are not in line with the recommendations from the American Academy of
Pediatrics or the World Health Organization.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, (AAP) who makes recommendations for the
United States, recommends that, “infants should be fed breast milk exclusively for the first 6

Dilts 2 months of life…exclusive breastfeeding means that the infant does not receive any additional foods (except vitamin D) or fluids unless medically recommended” (National Institutes, 2013).
After 6 months, “AAP recommends that the mother continue breastfeeding while gradually introducing foods into the infant’s diet” (National Institutes, 2013). Lastly, the AAP recommends that after one year, breastfeeding should continue if both the mother and child desire (National
Institutes, 2013). The World Health Organization, (WHO) who makes recommendations for the entire world, recommends a longer duration of breastfeeding past the first six months of exclusive breastfeeding. The WHO recommends that, “infants be exclusively breastfed for
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(Matsuyama, et al. 2013, p. 3-8).
It is clear that these parents were not educated enough on the benefits of breastfeeding and its true value. These hesitations and lack of knowledge can be traced back to pediatricians and hospital practices. The first issue is that pediatricians are not knowledgeable enough about breastfeeding practices, the benefits, or how to encourage parents antenatal and postnatal. This lack of knowledge was shown in a study that found, “a majority of pediatricians agreed with or had a neutral opinion about the statement that breastfeeding and formula-feeding are equally acceptable methods for feeding infants” (Schanler, O’Connor, & Lawrence, 1999, p. 1-3).
Whether the doctors agreed that formula and breast milk are equal, or were neutral is very concerning. Breast milk offers complete and safe nutrition along with many other benefits for the baby while formula lacks in these areas. Pediatricians are not well informed on this. Later on in the study, researchers found that most pediatricians had not attended a presentation on breastfeeding management in three years. They also found that only 65% of pediatricians recommended exclusive breastfeeding for the first month and only 37%

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