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Younger mothers and breastfeeding

The Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) is dedicated to providing breastfeeding information and support to all women regardless of religion, class, age or cultural background.

In 2011 a group of ABA volunteers formed a group called the ‘Younger Mothers Project’. This group aimed to research what could be done to improve the breastfeeding information and support given to younger mothers. This article is a summary of this research. For complete details refer to the full reference below.

Key issues found included:

  • The stigma felt by being a ‘young mum’. Many young mothers felt like they were judged in a negative light just because they were ‘young mums’. They felt they faced the same challenges as all new mothers and, as such, should be treated the same. Most saw ‘young-mum’-specific resources as being demeaning and not useful.
  • Breastfeeding not being a cultural norm in our society and so the risks of formula not being clearly understood by many younger mothers. Hearing or reading information that stated the risks of formula was a turn-off due to the negative and judgemental tone perceived. Therefore, it was suggested that information or support should focus on promoting the importance of breastfeeding for the baby and mother.
  • The importance of informal support networks. Younger mothers are strongly influenced by their partners, mothers and peers and rely on them for breastfeeding information and support.
  • The need for concise and consistent breastfeeding information that is given early in pregnancy.
  • The need for empathic and respectful postnatal breastfeeding support. Use of basic counselling skills (as used by ABA breastfeeding counsellors) by health professionals to speak to mothers (especially younger mothers) would defuse the negativity/authoritative tone that many mothers perceive.

The Breastfeeding Give it a Go video by ACT Health aims to increase breastfeeding awareness and empower young parents to achieve their breastfeeding goals. In the video, young parents speak frankly about their breastfeeding experiences and send a clear message to ‘Give it a Go’.

There are over 130 breastfeeding information articles on the ABA website, some of which are: 



Noble-Carr D., Bell, C. 2012, Exposed: young mothers and breastfeeding. Breastfeed Rev 20(3):27–38.

Breastfeeding as your family grows

Breastfeeding: as your family grows booklet

Breastfeeding as your family grows gives practical suggestions for preparing for the arrival of a new baby including preparing for the birth, at home with both children, self care and play ideas that will include the older child.

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© Australian Breastfeeding Association February 2015


Last reviewed: 
Jun 2016