It has been revealed that mothers who exclusively breastfeed their child spend 6.6 hours a week longer milk feeding than mothers who partially breastfeed or formula feed.
time, study shows
Researchers are concerned the time intensive nature of exclusive breastfeeding may contribute to premature weaning for women who are time-stressed or get little assistance in child rearing.
Researcher with the Australian Centre for Economic Research on Health at the Australian National University (ANU), Dr Julie Smith said the time differences had important implications for health policies and programs, including paid parental leave.
Dr Smith and co-author Robert Forrester studied the time 139 Australian mothers took to feed their six-month old child.
The mothers tracked how long they spent preparing feeds, feeding solids and breastfeeding over a week using electronic time tracking devices.
“It is rarely acknowledged that exclusive breastfeeding is very time intensive,” Dr Smith said.
“Time is a big factor in how new mothers choose to feed their babies.”
“Exclusive breastfeeding may add to the time spent feeding because you need to feed more often and it’s harder to share the feeding with someone else.”
She said health authorities recommended six months of exclusive breastfeeding, yet the current Government’s Paid Parental Leave scheme was for a maximum of 18 weeks.
“This conflict in health policies and paid parental leave needs to be rectified,” she said.
“Time demands on exclusively breastfeeding mothers are particularly high.
“Mothers who don’t breastfeed exclusively spent almost four hours a week preparing and feeding solid foods or formula, in addition to time they spent breastfeeding.”
Dr Smith said mothers need help to meet health recommendations for breastfeeding and that could be done by promoting time saving strategies for new mothers, such as additional help with housework and other childcare, lactation breaks in the workplace, and on-site childcare.
“Extending paid parental leave to six months may also help employed mothers to breastfeed exclusively for six months,” she said.
Edition 376, 27 August 2013