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Robin Elise Weiss, LCCE

Is Exclusive Breastfeeding Too Hard?

By March 15, 2012

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An article by Rita Rubin caught my eye, talking about a study from Scotland that basically said women in a study reported that exclusive breastfeeding for six months was too hard. What immediately jumped out at me when I looked at the Scottish study was that it was basing this article on talking to 36 women! I could certainly find 36 women to say just about anything.

To me, what's more worrisome, is that we're having a conversation about making the recommendations more lenient because of these women's opinions. That's right, skip the medical fact because 36 women are saying breastfeeding is hard.

Guess what? Breastfeeding can be hard, that doesn't make it not worth it. And some women don't have issues with breastfeeding and find it completely enjoyable. I love the quotes by Desirre Andrews, a doula from Colorado, in the article.

The real problem is that, rather than focusing on what is really wrong - the fact that we as a society do so much that makes breastfeeding much harder than in it has to be - we are simply looking for a way around it. Please, let's shift the discussion to topics like increased paid maternity leave, well educated practitioners on breastfeeding issues, and many of the other Booby Traps.

So, I'll ask you, what would help you or what did help you, breastfeed for six month exclusively?


Hoddinott, P; Craig, L; Britten, J; McInnes, R. A serial qualitative interview study of infant feeding experiences: idealism meets realism. BMJ Open 2012;2:e000504 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000504.

Photo Ariel Skelley/Getty Images

March 15, 2012 at 1:52 pm
(1) Karen Robinson says:

I would think that if there can’t be longer paid maternity leave at least having a place to pump at the workplace would be helpful. Both times I breastfed I went for 6 months before I quit pumping. That is when I introduced formula for when I wasn’t home. The first time I nursed, my employer was very considerate on the time I needed to do the pumping but the second time it was harder since there wasn’t really a convenient place to do it. I had changed jobs. I work for a large retail store and my choice was the bathroom or the dressing room. The bathroom was not fun since sitting on the toilet for a half hour is quite uncomfortable and the dressing room was a long way from the break room where I needed to store the milk. I was very pressed for time using the dressing room. It would also have been helpful to have more flexible break times/lengths. It seemed like I was constantly in trouble for taking too long because I had to cross the store twice.

March 17, 2012 at 12:13 am
(2) DJ says:

More support – more trained doctors that aren’t suggesting formula at every visit, more trained nurses, access to lactation consultants covered by insurance so it is a normal part of postpartum follow up care, legislation that allows mothers to be with babies during that six months – paid maternity leave, more onsite daycare, clean/safe pumping facilities, more public awareness of the vast benefits, support for women nursing in public (unfortuantely it often requires legislation) and public awareness that it is OK. As more and more women nurse hopefully they will nurse longer and it will once again be seen as the norm for the first year and even beyond. With 4 million babies born each year we should hear about breastfeeding every where we turn and we should see it everywhere we see babies.

March 26, 2012 at 8:54 pm
(3) Margaret says:

I breastfed all six of my kids for about two years, exclusively for about six months, until they started eating food. It was relaxing and enjoyable, and far easier than using formula would have been. I worked for an employer with onsite daycare with the first, and took six months maternity leave for two of them, worked at home with two of them, and was not working with one. I rarely pumped (the only pumps you could buy were manual then, and didn’t work well at all). Getting six months maternity leave was never a problem – and I took maternity leave 4 times with the same employer.

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