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Breastfeed Rev. 2004 Mar;12(1):5-13.

The influence of context on the success of adoptive breastfeeding: developing countries and the west.

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  • 1School of Nursing, Family and Community Health, College of Social and Health Sciences, Paramatta Campus, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith South Distribution Centre NSW 1787, Australia.


It is commonly believed that adoptive mothers in developing countries are more successful breastmilk producers than women in the west. A review of published research supports this assertion. However, an examination of the practice of adoptive breastfeeding in developing countries and in the west via the literature reveals differences that may explain the variation in success. Adoptive mothers in developing countries may have greater milk production than mothers in the west because they are more knowledgeable about breastfeeding, practice frequent breastfeeding, remain in close physical contact with their children and live in cultures that are supportive of breastfeeding. They also have reproductive and breastfeeding histories that may make breastfeeding easier, though they are less likely to have pharmaceutical galactagogues available. Adoptive mothers in the west should be encouraged to maximise their milk supply by emulating the mothering styles of women in developing countries and developing a strong support network for breastfeeding. It may be that most adoptive mothers are physically capable of producing sufficient breastmilk for their child but that in the west, sociocultural factors act as preventatives.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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