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Breastfeeding Support for Adolescent Mothers

Fewer than half of all adolescent mothers ever breastfeed their babies. Lack of knowledge is one reason why—they don’t know why to breastfeed, or they don’t know how to do so. Some think they just can’t do it. But physiologically, they can. Efforts to support adolescent mothers in learning about babies and feeding must be developmentally appropriate and non-threatening, addressing issues that tend to be higher concern for teen moms than older mothers, including body image, peer pressure, social acceptance, sexuality, and independence. How can we best help adolescents accept their new role of “mother” in a way that is supportive of breastfeeding? What issues need clarification? What help can we provide to get this new mother-baby dyad off to the best start? What approaches are best, and how should we deliver the information? How can we engage in the mother during the prenatal period and support her through the hospital stay—and beyond? For questions, e-mail anytime.

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