Feeding 'responsively' key to breastfeeding
Women who breastfeed 'responsively' – in response to whenever the baby wants to be fed, typically every two hours including through the night – are much more likely to continue breastfeeding for longer, research into the UK’s low breastfeeding rates has found.
The UK has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world, with up to 80% of mothers stopping breastfeeding prematurely.
Research by Professor Amy Brown at Swansea University is exploring why so many women experience problems with breastfeeding, and what can be done to help them.
Professor Brown's research - funded by the Economic and Social Research Council - found that the main factor governing whether breastfeeding was successful or not was the feeding routine the mother adopted. Feeding ‘responsively’ led to a good milk supply and reduced the likelihood of pain, difficulty or poor weight gain.
Mothers that fed to a set routine were much more likely to experience breastfeeding difficulties, leading to them stopping breastfeeding.
Reasons for feeding to a set routine included worrying that a baby was feeding too often, as well as the belief that a baby should be established in a set routine and sleep through the night from an early age. This belief was also tied into wider pressures on women to ‘get their lives back’ and return to work, lose weight and socialise.
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