Senior Honors Theses

Publication Date

Spring 2017

School

School of Nursing

Major

Nursing (B.S.N.)

Keywords

breastfeeding, baby-friendly, breast milk, neonatal, maternal health

Disciplines

Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Maternal and Child Health | Maternal, Child Health and Neonatal Nursing | Nursing Midwifery | Public Health and Community Nursing | Women's Health

Abstract

Breast milk is the gold standard for infant nutrition. In the past, infant formula was promoted as equal or superior to breast milk. However, research has shown that breastfeeding is the superior form of infant nutrition except in rare circumstances. Breast milk provides for all of a newborn’s caloric needs and has the correct balance of nutrients to promote proper development. In addition, breast milk provides protection against illnesses, supports an infant’s immune system, and promotes life-long health for the newborn. Mothers also experience personal benefits by breastfeeding such as decreased cancer risks, bonding with their babies, and faster postpartum weight loss. There are multiple reasons why a mother does not breastfeed or is unsuccessful in continuing breastfeeding, but receiving support and education can help a new mother be successful. The Baby Friendly Initiative has improved breastfeeding rates but further work still needs to be done to increase breastfeeding initiation and continuation in order to promote and increase both infant and maternal health.