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Moms Make the Decision to Breastfeed Longer

Moms Make the Decision to Breastfeed Longer

A new study discovers the decision to breastfeed beyond one year of age is the mother’s unilateral decision.

In a paper to be presented at the at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference, researchers discovered mothers believe extended breastfeeding will aid their child’s physical and social development.

Mother’s perceptions of the benefits of extended breastfeeding were found to be the most important consideration. The advice of health care professionals, family, and friends were found to be least important.

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises mothers to continue nursing beyond the first year for as long as mutually desired by mother and child.

Experts say the duration of breastfeeding is a personal choice. As such, researchers wanted to know why some moms choose to continue nursing after a child’s first birthday. To do this, they surveyed more than 50,000 U.S. women ages 18-50.

“The three most important reasons that mothers gave for extended nursing were the nutritional benefits of breast milk, the other health benefits of breast milk, and the opportunity to build a stronger social bond with their baby,” said principal investigator Alexis Tchaconas.

The investigators designed an online survey that asked mothers to rank 15 factors related to extended breastfeeding as “very important,” “important,” “somewhat import ant,” or “not important.”

Surveys were sent to mothers via email lists from La Leche League, an international breastfeeding support organization, as well as Facebook groups and online chat rooms dedicated to breastfeeding support.

Besides health benefits and bonding with their child, other top factors that influenced mothers to breastfeed beyond one year included enjoyment, support from spouse or partner, La Leche League support, and not having to pay for formula.

A surprise finding was the relatively low value mothers placed on discussing the issue with their pediatricians and health care team.

“Although most women felt comfortable discussing their decision to nurse their baby beyond one year of age with their child’s pediatrician and with their own health care providers, the recommendations of these health care professionals were not identified as being important in terms of the mother’s decision to extend nursing,” said senior investigator Andrew Adesman, M.D., F.A.A.P.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

Moms Make the Decision to Breastfeed Longer

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Moms Make the Decision to Breastfeed Longer. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 13 Oct 2014)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.