While researching their new book, The Informed Parent: A Science-Based Resource for Your Child's First Four Years, science journalists Tara Haelle and Emily Willingham, Ph.D., sifted through thousands of studies on parenting practices—from birthing and breastfeeding to sleep training and screen time—to find out what moms and dads really need to know. In this adapted excerpt, Haelle and Willingham take a look at the science behind boosting breast milk.
Although about 8 in 10 newborns started to breastfeed in 2011, only half of infants born that year were still breastfeeding at 6 months old, and just over a quarter at 1 year.
For mothers who planned to formula-feed or to stop breastfeeding before a year, that's fine—but a large proportion of those decreases reflects mothers who aren't meeting their own breastfeeding goals. A 2014 study of more than 2,300 women who planned and started to breastfeed found that 12 percent of those women experienced problems related to breast pain, low milk supply, or infant latch. That means 1 in 8 women didn't reach the breastfeeding goal they set for themselves due to these common problems.