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Success At The Breast: Capturing Breastfeeding Experiences, Attitudes, And Challenges
Shannon Malloy, BS, Laura C. Nuzzi, BA, Joseph M. Firriolo, MD, Catherine T. McNamara, BS, Brian I. Labow, MD.
Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.

PURPOSE: The Mother Infant Lactation Questionnaire (MILQ) was designed as the first standardized research tool to effectively measure breastfeeding experiences and lactation capability. This study aims to capture the wide range of experiences, perceptions, and challenges breastfeeding mothers face.
METHODS: The MILQ was piloted in a cohort of mothers between the ages of 18 and 45 years who were between 6 months and 5 years postpartum.
RESULTS: A total of 85 participants completed the MILQ, with a mean age of 33.6 years. Mothers overwhelmingly believed that breast milk is significantly healthier than formula (71%). Although 93% of respondents attempted to breastfeed, only 74% were successfully able to nourish their child through breastmilk alone. The majority of mothers (80%) utilized some sort of device to aid in breastfeeding, most commonly breast pumps (87%) and nipple shields (43%). Roughly 40% of mothers did not meet their own breastfeeding goals, primarily due to insufficient milk production (41%), inability to breastfeed for the desired duration (19%), and limited time and resources to breastfeed or pump milk at work, school, or home (19%). Over one-third (35%) of mothers were dissatisfied with their breastfeeding experience.
CONCLUSION: Despite national campaigns to increase breastfeeding prevalence and normalization, many mothers still struggle to fulfill their breastfeeding expectations. Our results support that breastfeeding can be a physically and emotionally challenging experience, often requiring device intervention. Postpartum services should support mothers by 1) increasing awareness regarding the difficulties of lactation and breastfeeding, and 2) teaching tangible skills to overcome common problems to optimize the breastfeeding experience.


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