Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy 2010-2015

Appendix A

The aim of the Strategy is to contribute to improving the health, nutrition and wellbeing of infants and young children, and the health and wellbeing of mothers, by protecting, promoting, supporting and monitoring breastfeeding.

Page last updated: 15 July 2010

Barriers to breastfeeding

Factors that may hinder the initiation and/or duration of breastfeeding


  • adolescent/young mothers
  • limited number of years in full-time education
  • low-income level/socioeconomic status
  • mothers from a culturally and linguistically diverse background
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers, particularly in urban areas
  • high parity


  • maternal obesity
  • maternal diabetes
  • low birth weight, infant prematurity and/or admission to special care nursery
  • cracked or sore nipples
  • various congenital malformations, e.g. cleft palate
  • multiple births
  • infant medical or physical influences, e.g. rare metabolic disorders such as galactosaemia, swallowing difficulties etc.


  • mother’s lack of confidence in breastfeeding
  • perceived insufficient supply of breast milk
  • perception of baby demanding too many feeds
  • maternal depression


  • mother’s attitude towards breast or infant formula feeding
  • knowledge and attitudes of partner, relatives and the public towards breast or infant formula feeding
  • maternal smoking
  • returning to work
  • media portrayal of breastfeeding and infant formula (bottle) feeding


  • organisation and practices of the health services, e.g.:
  • certain interventions during and after labour
  • the provision of supplemental feeds
  • extended separation of mother and baby for non-medical reasons
  • restricted feeding
  • free provision and/or promotion of infant formula
  • knowledge, attitudes, education and beliefs of health workers
  • unsupported or inadequately supported discharge plans
  • poor diagnosis and/or management of common breastfeeding problems
  • inappropriate diagnosis and management of low weight gain and other infant problems


  • lack of facilities to breastfeed in public areas
  • employment and work environments that lack breastfeeding policies, paid maternity leave, lactation breaks, flexible working arrangements and appropriate places to express and store breast milk