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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter September 21, 2013

Breastfeeding is natural but not always easy: intervention for common medical problems of breastfeeding mothers – a review of the scientific evidence

Renate L. Bergmann EMAIL logo , Karl E. Bergmann , Katharina von Weizsäcker , Monika Berns , Wolfgang Henrich and Joachim W. Dudenhausen


Natural processes do not always function perfectly. In breastfeeding, problems are encountered in up to 80% of mother-infant dyads. Altogether, in Western societies, the difficulties reduce the breastfeeding rate within the first months drastically. To deal with the problems of breastfeeding efficiently requires a profound understanding of its physiology, as well as of its psychological and social determinants. This review focuses on the current knowledge of breastfeeding physiology, only touching the psychosocial factors, which are included in the promotion strategies. Subsequently, it scrutinizes definitions, incidences, prevention, and treatment of breastfeeding problems faced most frequently by nursing mothers and their consultants. Not all measures used in counseling mothers and not all treatments for the most common medical problems withstand a careful evaluation on the basis of current scientific data. However, applying proven prevention strategies will significantly improve the well being of mothers and their infants, and may contribute to an affective attitude that increases the success, frequency, and duration of breastfeeding.

Corresponding author: Prof. Dr. Renate L. Bergmann, Humboldt-Universitaet zu Berlin/Charite, Campus Virchow-Klinikum, Klinik fuer Geburtsmedizin Augustenburger Platz 1, Berlin 13353, Germany, Tel.: +49 30 450 564 101, Fax: +49 30 45 0564 908, E-mail: ; and Department of Obstetrics, Charité University Medicine Berlin, Augustenburger Platz 1, Berlin 13353, Germany


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The authors stated that there are no conflicts of interest regarding the publication of this article.

Received: 2013-5-3
Accepted: 2013-8-12
Published Online: 2013-09-21
Published in Print: 2014-01-01

©2014 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston

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