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According to a new national survey conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research (GQRR) and Public Opinion Strategies (POS), while almost all mothers acknowledge the importance and benefits of breastfeeding both for themselves and their babies, a large majority of moms want the right to make their own infant feeding decisions, based on all available information and to best suit their own family’s needs. The survey additionally found that whether they breastfed or not, many moms believe infant formula to be a safe alternative to breast milk.
“Mothers in the United States know what is best for their babies,” noted Anna Greenberg, SVP at Washington-based GQRR. “But many moms report having to balance the needs of their baby along with competing needs of work or school, other family members, and maintaining an adequate milk supply. The reality is that most moms don’t choose either exclusive breastfeeding or exclusive formula feeding -- they use a combination of both.”
The survey sampled opinions from 876 mothers of children age 12 months and younger throughout the country. Eight out of 10 mothers (84 percent) said breastfeeding is healthier for their babies, and a similar percentage (79 percent) said it’s healthier for themselves. Most mothers (83 percent) made their infant feeding decision before giving birth. The vast majority (82 percent) breastfed at some point during their babies’ first year, but over half of the moms changed their baby’s diet during the first year.
Mothers also named a number of obstacles that either prevented them from starting or continuing breastfeeding, including demands of work or school, the inability to produce enough milk, the feeling that breastfeeding limits freedom, and the expense of a breast pump.
When asked what government actions could help increase breastfeeding in the United States, mothers suggested support after leaving the hospital, including guaranteed paid or longer maternity leave; greater assistance from health care professionals; breastfeeding support in the workplace; and access to a breast pump.
A key finding of the survey is that mothers want access to information on infant feeding. Three out of four moms said new mothers should get information on breastfeeding as well as infant formula so they can make an informed choice. Most mothers agreed infant formula offers flexibility and choice, as well as a way to supplement breastfeeding, when necessary.
“This survey underscores the reality that when it comes to infant feeding, mothers want full information, flexibility, and choices,” said Greenberg. "Mothers … want the right to make their decision based on all available information and in an environment where mothers’ choice is supported."”
The research was funded by the International Formula Council, an association of manufacturers and marketers of formulated nutrition products, including infant formula. For more information on the survey’s findings, visit www.MomsFeedingFreedom.com.