Breastfeeding is the undisputed optimal feeding method for infants. In response, Healthy People 2020 called for an increase in the number of infants who are breastfed at 1 year to 34.1%. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the breastfeeding rate for 2012 as only 25.5%. To accomplish the breastfeeding goal of Healthy People, mothers need excellent breastfeeding support throughout the entire first year. In 2005, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that infants breastfeed exclusively for 6 months and should continue breastfeeding for at least 1 year as complimentary foods are added. Studies have shown an overwhelming number of infant health benefits associated with breastfeeding, including protection of the infant from bacteremia, diarrhea, respiratory tract infection, necrotizing enterocolitis, otitis media, urinary tract infection, late-onset sepsis in preterm infants, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, lymphoma, leukemia, Hodgkin's disease, and childhood obesity. The more breastfeeding support a mother receives, the more likely she will be able to offer these benefits to her child. This support is even more important when a mother faces challenges that put her at risk for breastfeeding cessation.
The mother (MB) of a 9-month-old infant called the lactation resource line at our institution seeking breastfeeding advice. She shared her infant's history, which was significant for severe gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms since birth, including blood in stool, vomiting, and fussiness. When MB was exclusively breastfeeding, she was able to control his symptoms with maternal diet elimination. With the introduction of solid foods however, the symptoms returned. With the help of her pediatrician MB was able to determine and eliminate the offending foods. At the time of the call, MB was suffering from mastitis and was placed on an antibiotic, which seemed to be triggering the same GI symptoms for her infant. Faced with the prospect of pumping and discarding her milk until the completion of the antibiotic treatment, she was calling for advice. The lactation consultant was able to research this otherwise safe medication and devise a feeding plan with MB. It was paramount to feed the infant when the concentration of the medication in MB's milk was at its lowest to minimize the infant's symptoms.
The implementation of this creative feeding plan allowed MB and her infant to continue breastfeeding with minimal GI disturbances. MB was extremely happy to be able to continue providing the optimal nutrition for her infant.