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Survey Indicates Increased Support Required for New Mothers in Breastfeeding

The Dutch healthy food institute Voedingscentrum highlights the pressing need for increased support for new mothers in their breastfeeding journey, citing that most discontinue breastfeeding earlier than intended. A survey reveals that around 70% of new mothers cease breastfeeding due to concerns about their baby’s milk intake or experiencing pain during nursing. Additionally, two-thirds of these mothers express disappointment about discontinuing breastfeeding prematurely.

The World Health Organization (WHO) advocates for breastfeeding for a minimum of six months to maximize health benefits for infants. Recognizing the challenges that new mothers face, Marije Verwijs from Voedingscentrum emphasizes the importance of providing additional assistance to women and their babies.

Verwijs suggests involving midwives and maternity nurses in providing support, along with ensuring access to lactation experts through basic healthcare coverage. Currently, access to lactation support services is limited to those who can afford supplementary insurance, leaving many mothers without essential assistance.

Research indicates that only 53% of mothers initiate breastfeeding exclusively, marking the lowest proportion since 1997. However, there has been an increase in the number of women combining breastfeeding with bottle feeding, rising from 7% in 2015 to 23% presently. While this means that 67% of babies receive some breast milk, which is higher than in previous years, it also raises questions about the reasons and consequences of mixed feeding.

Further investigation into the factors influencing the choice to combine breast milk and formula is warranted due to its growing popularity. Notably, the survey reveals that women who exclusively breastfeed tend to continue nursing for a longer duration, with 31% continuing beyond six months compared to 20% in previous surveys. This underscores the potential benefits of supporting mothers in their breastfeeding efforts, as it may contribute to sustaining breastfeeding for an extended period.

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