16th March 2012
New mums who take the decision to breastfeed their babies have in recent years been advised to continue for six months before weaning their child onto solids, but new research suggests this recommendation may be too idealistic for most parents.
A review carried out by the University of Aberdeen found that women might struggle to breastfeed exclusively for six months because of varying factors, such as support from their partner, family and healthcare workers and the reality of nursing.
“Almost two decades ago, there was a debate around idealism in health promotion which questioned the transformation of health into political value,” the authors said in the BMJ Open journal.
“We would argue that it is time to revisit this debate for infant feeding, if we are to design and deliver successful interventions to improve infant feeding outcomes and subsequent health outcomes of future generations.”
The researchers found breastfeeding mums feel frustrated that the official advice they are given seems to be “all or nothing” and doesn’t prepare them for the reality of nursing.
Meanwhile, findings from a long-running study carried out in Finland have suggested that breastfed babies grow up to be less hostile than non-breastfed infants, with adults in their 30s who were fed by their mothers for four to six months scoring lower on hostility scales than their non-breastfed peers.
Separate research has also pointed out the health benefits of breastfeeding for the mother.
Robert March, chief executive of The Eve Appeal, noted: “There is some evidence to indicate that a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer can be reduced by pregnancy, breastfeeding, and extended use of the contraceptive pill, as these are factors which interrupt ovulation.
“Women who have given birth have a lower risk of developing ovarian cancer than women who have not,” he added.
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