Factors that influence the decision to breastfeed
Breastfeeding is a natural and beneficial way of feeding your baby, but it is not always easy or straightforward. Many factors can influence your decision to breastfeed, such as your personal beliefs, your health, your family and social support, your work environment, and your access to information and assistance. In this blog post, we will explore some of these factors and how they can affect your breastfeeding journey.
Your personal beliefs about breastfeeding may be influenced by your culture, religion, education, and previous experiences. Some women may have a strong desire to breastfeed because they believe it is the best choice for their baby’s health and development, or because they want to bond with their baby. Other women may have doubts or fears about breastfeeding, such as whether they will produce enough milk, whether it will hurt, or whether it will interfere with their lifestyle or body image. Some women may face pressure or criticism from their family or society for choosing to breastfeed or not.
Your health and your baby’s health can also affect your decision to breastfeed. Some medical conditions or medications may make breastfeeding difficult or impossible for some women. For example, women who have HIV, tuberculosis, or certain types of cancer may be advised not to breastfeed to avoid transmitting the infection or the medication to their baby. On the other hand, some health problems may make breastfeeding more beneficial for you or your baby. For example, breastfeeding can lower your risk of breast and ovarian cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Breastfeeding can also protect your baby from infections, allergies, asthma, obesity, and sudden infant death syndrome.
Family and social support
Family and social support are crucial for successful breastfeeding. Having a supportive partner, family member, friend, or peer who can encourage you, help you with household chores, provide emotional support, and respect your feeding choices can make a big difference in your confidence and satisfaction with breastfeeding. Conversely, having a partner, family member, friend, or peer who is unsupportive, discourages you, criticizes you, or pressures you to stop breastfeeding can undermine your breastfeeding goals and affect your mental health.
Your work environment can also influence your decision to breastfeed. Many women face challenges when they return to work after maternity leave, such as finding time and space to pump milk, storing and transporting milk safely, maintaining milk supply and quality, and balancing work and family responsibilities. Some workplaces may offer policies and facilities that support breastfeeding mothers, such as flexible hours, paid breaks, lactation rooms, refrigerators, breast pumps, and childcare services. Other workplaces may lack these amenities or have a culture that is unsupportive or hostile to breastfeeding mothers.
Access to information and assistance
Access to accurate information and professional assistance can also affect your decision to breastfeed. Many women need guidance and support to learn how to breastfeed correctly and overcome common challenges such as sore nipples, engorgement, mastitis, low milk supply, or latch problems. Having access to reliable sources of information such as books, websites, apps, or classes can help you prepare for breastfeeding and answer your questions. Having access to qualified professionals such as lactation consultants,
or doctors can help you solve any problems that may arise and monitor your baby’s growth and development.
Breastfeeding is a personal decision that depends on many factors. Some factors may encourage you to breastfeed,
while others may discourage you or make it harder for you. Whatever decision you make,
it is important that you feel informed,
and respected by yourself and others. Breastfeeding is not a one-size-fits-all solution,
but a dynamic process that can change over time according to your needs and preferences.
– Ballesta-Castillejos A,
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– Office on Women’s Health.
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– American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
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Committee Opinion No. 821.
Obstet Gynecol 2021;137:e42–53.
– Gómez-Restrepo C,
Which factors influence women in the decision to breastfeed?
Investigación y Educación en Enfermería 2016;34:22–31.
– World Health Organization.