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Breastfeeding Mothers Spend 6.6 Hours Extra With Newborns

Update Date: Aug 19, 2013 01:44 PM EDT

In a new report, researchers outlined the differences between multiple feeding techniques that mothers can choose from. The report discovered that all of these varying maternity feeding methods affect the amount of time mothers might need tending to their infants. Since the amount of time spent with one's newborn can range drastically, the researchers of the report believe that current health policies and programs in Australia need to be adjusted to meet the needs of these mothers.

"It is rarely acknowledged that exclusive breastfeeding is very time intensive," Dr. Julie Smith from the Australian Center for Economic Research on Health at ANU (Australian National University) said. "Time is a big factor in how new mothers choose to feed their babies. Exclusive breastfeeding may add the time spent feeding because you need to feed more often and it's harder to share the feeding with someone else."

For this report, Smith and co-author Robert Forrester examined the feeding methods exercised by 139 Australian mothers. In Australia, the health officials recommend mothers to devote six months to exclusive breastfeeding. Breastfeeding has reportedly been tied to boosting cognitive growth and function. Despite this recommendation, the Government's Paid Parental Leave only allows a maximum of 18 weeks of maternity leave, which is not enough time for mothers who choose to breastfeed exclusively. The researchers gathered information on the amount of time these mothers spent on feeding their children, whether it involved breastfeeding or preparing foods. The mothers were given an electronic time tracking device to help them record the time spent more effectively.

The researchers discovered that women who choose to breastfeed exclusively spend a relatively large amount of their time feeding their infants. These mothers send around 18 hours per week breastfeeding, which is 6.6 hours more than mothers who use solids or formula. Since feeding methods can vary greatly, the researchers stated that certain laws regarding maternity leave could influence how mothers choose to feed their infants. They believe that these policies created for new mothers could potentially deter them from breastfeeding, even if that was their first choice for feeding their infants.

"Mothers who don't breastfeed exclusively spend about four hours a week preparing and feeding solid foods or formula, in addition to time they spent breastfeeding," the researchers stated according to Medical Xpress. "We need to help mothers to meet health recommendations for breastfeeding 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."

The study was provided by ANU.

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