New mothers need more help to breastfeed their babies: survey


Most new mothers stop breastfeeding earlier than planned and should be given help, the Dutch healthy food institute Voedingscentrum has said.

Some 70% of new mothers give up because they are unsure if the baby is getting enough milk or because they feel pain while breastfeeding, a survey has shown. Two-thirds of the mothers felt disappointed about having to stop.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that babies are breastfed for at least the first six months for maximum health benefits.

“Breastfeeding can be a challenge, particularly at the beginning,” Marije Verwijs of the Voedingscentrum told broadcaster NOS. “That is why we want extra help for these women and their babies.”

Midwives and maternity nurses could play a role but new mothers should also have access to a lactation expert through the basic healthcare package, Verwijs said.

“That service is now only accessible to people who have the money to pay for extra insurance,” she said.

The research also shows that just 53% of mothers start out by breastfeeding alone, the lowest proportion since 1997. The number of women who combine breastfeeding and bottle feeding has gone up from 7% in 2015 to 23% today.

That means 67% of babies do get some mother’s milk and that is higher than in previous years, Verwijs said.

There has been little research into the reasons and effects of combining breast milk and formula but its popularity calls for further investigation, she said.

Women who do breastfeed do so longer, the survey showed. Some 31% continue to breastfeed after six months, compared to 20% in previous surveys.

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