Why do all mothers breastfeed their babies

06.05.2020 08:41

Babies breastfeed longer - great!

Giulia Roggenkamp Press office
Child Health Foundation

Children's Health Foundation reports on the encouraging increase in breastfeeding in Germany

That's really good news: our babies are breastfed longer than today
Newborns just twenty years ago, reports the Children's Health Foundation in a current statement. When they are discharged from the maternity hospital, 77 percent of all babies are fully breastfed and four months later the breastfeeding rate for exclusive breastfeeding is still 56 percent. This emerges from the "Study on the collection of data on breastfeeding and infant nutrition in Germany", abbreviated to "SuSe II" by the German Nutrition Society (DGE).

"The best and most natural form of nutrition for infants is breastfeeding," says pediatrician Professor Berthold Koletzko, metabolism specialist at the University Children's Hospital in Munich and chairman of the Children's Health Foundation. “Not only does it have many health benefits for mother and child, but it also promotes their emotional bond and thus has positive long-term effects on the child's physical, psychological and social development. The worldwide recommendation is: Babies should only be breastfed in the first four to six months and continue to breastfeed even after the introduction of complementary foods - starting between the 5th and 7th month ".

Even today, this goal has not yet been fully achieved. Nevertheless, the current numbers from “SuSe II” represent enormous progress when compared with the frequency of breastfeeding twenty years ago, emphasizes the Children's Health Foundation: At that time, at the age of four months, only 45 percent of children were breast-fed, today it around 60 percent. Twenty years ago, at the age of 12 months, only 13 percent of infants were partially breastfed; now it is 41 percent.

Data from over a hundred maternity clinics

The current study SuSe II is a continuation of the study "SuSe I", with which 1997-1998 data on breastfeeding and infant nutrition in Germany were determined for the first time nationwide. This time 109 of the 692 maternity clinics in Germany with 3,810 documented births took part in the study. In addition, 966 mothers answered a questionnaire about the breastfeeding conditions in their maternity hospital, the length of breastfeeding and the diet of each baby in the first year of life. The study was carried out by the University Children's Hospital in Bochum and funded by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

The mean age of the participating mothers was 32.8 years, 91.3 percent of the mothers had German nationality. 81 percent of the mothers received instructions on breastfeeding, mostly from a midwife, less often from a nurse or a breastfeeding or lactation advisor. 62 percent of the mothers were completely satisfied with the nursing care in the clinic, only 4.5 percent were not satisfied.

The results show a gratifying increase in the willingness to breastfeed and breastfeeding promotion, emphasizes the Children's Health Foundation. The general conditions for breastfeeding in the German clinics have improved significantly compared to before: Today, mothers are offered practical breastfeeding support more often.

The fact that the vast majority of mothers were satisfied with the breastfeeding promotion in their hospital speaks for the great efforts of the clinics to promote breastfeeding within the scope of their possibilities. 98 percent of the nursing mothers in the maternity hospital were able to practice full rooming-in, which means that the child could spend day and night with the mother.

SuSe II study: important data and facts

After giving birth, 97 percent of mothers tried to breastfeed their babies. At the time of discharge from the maternity hospital, 77 percent of newborns were still fully breastfed. All in all, after birth, 82 percent of babies enjoyed breast milk either exclusively or through partial breastfeeding.

At 55.8 percent, the proportion of fully or exclusively breastfed babies up to the age of four months remained at a very high level.

At the end of the first year of life, all babies were fed complementary food, 41 percent of them were also breastfed.

In a European comparison, the results of the SuSe II study are in the range of countries with traditionally high breastfeeding rates such as Switzerland and Scandinavia.

Breastfeeding is also possible in the workplace!

One year after the birth of their child, 39 percent of mothers returned to work. 36 percent of them continued to breastfeed their child. According to 64 percent of these mothers, breastfeeding at work was supported by their employer.

Employers can promote breastfeeding by adapting working hours and breastfeeding breaks to the needs of their employees and by providing suitable rooms for breastfeeding. The time to breastfeed is guaranteed by the Maternity Protection Act and is at least half an hour twice a day or one hour once a day. However, these are minimum requirements, emphasizes the Children's Health Foundation: The need for breastfeeding can be higher in individual cases and make further breaks necessary, especially for very young children.

Breast milk is healthy, practical and inexpensive

Breastfeeding offers diverse and practical benefits for mother and child. The Children's Health Foundation names the most important:

• Breast milk is easy to digest.
• Your antibodies protect the baby from infections of all kinds and from many
Infectious diseases, such as diarrhea or otitis media.
• The nutrient content in breast milk ideally covers the needs of the baby and in many cases has a better bioavailability than infant formula. The mother's body produces the optimally composed milk for every development phase of the baby.
• Breast-fed children are less ill than non-breast-fed children. You are in later life
less often overweight, also have a lower risk for diabetes and for that
inflammatory bowel disease Crohn's disease. Anyone who was breastfed as a baby has a
Adults lower cholesterol levels and less vascular deposits.
• Breast milk is always available, hygienically perfect and at the right temperature.
• Breastfeeding significantly reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
• Later on, breastfed children have higher cognitive performance.
• Breastfeeding saves time and money and is environmentally friendly.

Important: Support for breastfeeding by the partner

Why is one in five babies not fed from the mother's breast long enough? The “SuSe II” study also provided important information for this: some women did not want to breastfeed their child at all or only for a short time, including many women with a low school leaving certificate. Other mothers cited problems with breastfeeding as a reason for weaning early, e.g. B. Milk obstruction, inflammation or sore nipples. A partner's negative attitude towards breastfeeding also played an important role in premature weaning.
Another reason is likely to be the widespread negative attitude towards breastfeeding in public spaces: According to current studies, one in four people in Germany is ambivalent or negative about breastfeeding in public spaces. Breastfeeding in restaurants and cafes in particular is considered inappropriate by many people.

"By providing the public with objective and comprehensive information about the high health value of breastfeeding, its acceptance in society should also be further improved," hopes Professor Berthold Koletzko. He is convinced: “The promotion of breastfeeding remains an important task for the health care system”.

Features of this press release:
Nutrition / health / care, medicine
Colorful science