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Breastfeeding is tough: new research shows how to make it more manageable

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The benefits of breastfeeding are wide-ranging and life-changing. Breast milk contains antibodies that reduce the risk of asthma, allergies, diarrhoea and ear infections. Breastfed infants are hospitalised less frequently than infants who are not. In later life, breastfed children and less likely to be overweight and have higher IQs. And women who have breastfed are at reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

What’s more, these benefits increase with the duration of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding over the first week of life is beneficial, but breastfeeding over the first year is far better.

It’s sensible then that Public Health England has made it a priority to support breastfeeding and that the Scottish government has committed to a goal of increasing breastfeeding duration.

In a recent pilot study, myself and MSc student Tracy McGillivray gave planning/advice cards to some women in the closing stages of their pregnancy to help them manage the transition to breastfeeding. We discovered women who received the cards were four times less likely to quit breastfeeding than women who had not received them.

Breastfeeding is tough. It is physically gruelling. A majority of the women who answered the large-scale Infant Feeding Survey in 2010 reported that they experienced breast or nipple pain at some point when breastfeeding.

Even these days, it can be........

© The Conversation

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