Kathryn McNeil admits breastfeeding her four month-old daughter hasn't always been easy. "The first month was really hard. Definitely the first two weeks. It hurt so much. Even a cotton shirt against your chest just hurts. It's awful," she said.
She stuck with it, but a new study shows most new mothers don't. Researchers found 85 percent of mothers planned to exclusively breast-feed their infants for three months or longer, but only a third of them actually met their goals.
"Women who were less likely to be successful -- it was their first pregnancy, they were obese or overweight, or they were smokers," said Dr. Julie Gallombardo Capiola, a Pediatrician at NYU's Langone Medical Center.
Doctors recommend mothers breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of
their baby's life, then add solid foods. Studies have shown that infants who are breast fed are less prone to infections, less likely to be obese, and less likely to develop chronic conditions later in life. Researchers say three hospital policies really influence whether mothers are successful.
"Not introducing the pacifier, starting initiating the breastfeeding within an hour, and most importantly, not introducing formula as a supplementation in the hospital," Dr. Gallombardo Capiola said.
McNeil understands why some women turn to formula. "Before you go to bed they say, 'Do you want us to take the baby overnight. we can feed her a bottle.' It's so tempting because you just want to sleep," she said.
But she says breastfeeding does get easier and her daughter is thriving. She's in the 95th percentile for height and weight. She's clearly getting what she needs.
She plans to keep breastfeeding for a year.
Teresa Garcia - CBS News
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