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Why Breastfeeding Education is Vital

  • Updated February 18, 2022
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LITERATURE REVIEW: This literature review will address why breastfeeding education is vital to new mothers. Throughout history, breastfeeding has been a healthy method of feeding to ensure survival. Scriptures refer to the importance of breastfeeding in biblical times as breastfeeding was the first priority of mothers until later in infancy and was referred to as a ‘spiritual’ drink. “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation” 1 Peter 2:2 (ESV).

In other countries throughout history, historians and philosophers have stressed breastfeeding as a motherhood duty. Today, depending on society’s views, social support, and education, these factors have significantly altered ‘woman’s’ choice to breastfeed. Not only has society made women feel ashamed of breastfeeding, as breasts are displayed as a form of sexuality, but there has been an enormous lack of support and education on the subject. Because of these reasons“in the early 1900’s the first chemical analysis gave a vast advantage over human milk and since then, formula has continued to be the first choice as advertising exerted its influence on public opinion”(). However, breastfeeding has many advantages over providing infants with formula.

Only breastfeeding can improve infant bonding, help achieve maximum growth and development, protect against non-communicable diseases and benefit maternal health (Sinh et al, 2015). Today, there is a strong movement noticed worldwide with the intent to convince societies and healthcare professionals on all of the advantages of breastfeeding for the mother and the infant (Papastavrou et al. 2015). In 1989 the World Health Organization (WHO) called for all necessary healthcare staff to be trained to better support breastfeeding mothers (Liebert, 2011). The initiative was a huge step in the right direction since breastfeeding does not come natural to many women. With proper education linked between the physician and the patient, breastfeeding support by healthcare professionals has been proven extremely beneficial.

Furthermore, “ WHO and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recommend initiation of breastfeeding within an hour of birth, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, and continued breastfeeding beyond six months and at least up to two years of age or more along with the introduction of nutritionally adequate and safe complementary food” (Sinh et al., 2015, p. 114). The problem with this, is many women do not follow these recommendations and this is due to the reasons stated above: lack of support and education. Furthermore, although the standards presented by the WHO and UNICEF are clear on expectations, physician’s attitudes and general concerns, while counseling mothers, have been shown to be a significant factor in the mother’s decision to formula or breastfeed. Research shows women have reported not receiving routine prenatal or postpartum counseling for breastfeeding by their physicians. Also, physician attitudes while counseling mothers have been shown to be a significant factor in the mother’s infant feeding decisions.

Therefore, proper breastfeeding education from physicians is vital. Evidence confirms that breastfeeding support and interventions are associated with an increased rate of any exclusive breastfeeding. According to Patnode, Henninger, Sengre, Perdue and Whitlock (2016), only 22 percent of infants are exclusively breastfed up to about six months of age. Therefore, promoting breastfeeding by increasing community awareness, creating health care system support and educating families through supportive counselling, families will gain the knowledge and support they need in order to make a more educated decision on whether breastfeeding is a more appropriate feeding method. Promotion of breastfeeding has been proven time and time again to be the most powerful form of intervention for mothers. Lastly, Nguyen, Snow, Wheeler and Owens (2015) discuss nine articles that explore the factors leading to more successful breastfeeding. These common theme from each article was education and support. The authors state, “Father and family support, lactation consultant advice, and peer support before, during and after delivery all demonstrated significant increases in breastfeeding” (p. 524).

All of the literature used throughout this review was found by searching key words: breastfeeding education, history of breastfeeding, educating post-partum mothers, breastfeeding support and by use of the Cochrane database.

Cite this paper

Why Breastfeeding Education is Vital. (2020, Sep 17). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/why-breastfeeding-education-is-vital/

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