One-third of breastfeeding mothers stop within the first two months because they cannot solve their infant feeding difficulties, not because they wish to stop breastfeeding. This early weaning rate is unacceptably high, according to current infant feeding recommendations. The World Health Organization suggests that weaning should not occur until the second year, yet less than 10% of infants in Canada are receiving breast milk by one year.
Breastfeeding problems include: infant failure to thrive, early supplementation due to inadequate milk supply, infant distress, or maternal discomfort and distress. The etiology or underlying cause(s) should be carefully identified before appropriate management is instituted and preventive measures taken. Successful breastfeeding implies that a young infant is thriving on breast milk and that mother and infant are content. This article focuses on a diagnostic approach to clarifying the underlying causes of breastfeeding difficulties.