THURSDAY, March 15 (HealthDay News) -- Current recommendations from experts urge new mothers to breast-feed their newborns for the first six months of life. But, a new survey out of Scotland suggests that for many women, this expectation just isn't realistic.
"Idealistic messages about breast-feeding and the representation of breast-feeding as easy and natural may exert pressure on some women," said study author Dr. Pat Hoddinott. "Women do not find breast-feeding easy, and they require timely and appropriate support."
Both the World Health Organization and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend six months of exclusive breast-feeding. However, many women don't follow the guidelines completely. In the United States, the percentage who breast-feed only for that time is thought to be around 13 percent.
Meanwhile, support for breast-feeding has led to the hiring of "lactation specialists" who teach and support new mothers in hospitals, and critics complain of a culture of "breast Nazis."
In the new study, researchers asked 541 women to take part in a survey. They ended up interviewing 36 of them and 37 others, including partners and relatives, about infant care.
The study authors write that some health care professionals put pressure on "unconfident" new parents: some women described it as "just one big guilt trip" and reported feeling "heartbroken" about stopping breast-feeding before six months. One spoke of "negative tension" for wanting to move to solid foods at 17 weeks.
"It all seems to be 'don't ever do anything that would interfere with breastfeeding,'" one woman told the researchers. "It's all got to be very purist, which is fine, but it just doesn't fit in with the rest of your life ... I think people just give up because it's too difficult."
Another woman said that, "I think a reality check actually would be good, because they [healthcare prof
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