Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Breastfeeding study

I ran across this article on CNN a couple of days ago that cited some alarming statistics about the lack of breastfeeding in the U.S. It cited a CDC study that found the following:
  • Only 74% of women even start breastfeeding
  • Only 33% were still exclusively breastfeeding at three months
  • Only 14% were still exclusively breastfeeding at six months
These rates are far below the World Health Organization's recommendation that states infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. The article stated that if new moms would breastfeed for the first six months of life, a thousand lives and billions of dollars would be saved each year. The infant deaths are due primarily to SIDS, necrotizing enterocolitis (when the lining of the intestinal wall dies) and lower respiratory infections such as pneumonia. 

So the question is why aren't more women breastfeeding? The article suggests lack of support in the hospital after birth, lack of education about the benefits of breastfeeding and lack of support once a mom leaves the hospital and runs into problems, such as failure to latch.

I can relate to these reasons. After giving birth to Olive in the hospital, I had one great lactation consultant work with me just minutes after Olive was born. But then I worked with another the next day who said Olive didn't seem to be latching and I should just pump. A few days after being home, I ran into more problems with latching and hired a third lactation consultant who saved the day. Had I not known that there were lactation consultants out there that could help, I could easily have given up on breastfeeding. 

It can be frustrating and painful (after two-and-a-half months of nursing, my nipples still often hurt). Many women don't have their female family members nearby to offer support and guidance. And if a mom is returning to work, there are even more challenges. 

At Wabisabi, we are big advocates of breastfeeding. Q was at it for over two years, D is going on one year and I hope to reach at least the one-year mark as well. I understand there are legitimate reasons for not breastfeeding, but I hope we can raise awareness of the important health benefits breastfeeding has on our children so women can make informed decisions that are best for their families. 


MamaQ said...

i would've kept breastfeeding maya until she was 16. and i know there are a LOT of people out there that would have issues with that. (okay, probably not 16, but at least 15). i do wish that there was more education and support out there for moms who want to use the boobie. all we can do is keep doing what we're doing and gently letting people know why. nice post, M.

Esther said...

I wish I could have breastfed longer. I was educated and worked with 5 lactation consultants over a two month period. I just did not produce enough milk. I tried ever herb out there, pumping every two hours to stimulate production, hot showers before I nursed, massaging, literally everything anyone has ever suggested and it just didn't work. I would pump for 45 minutes and get 1/2 ounce if I was lucky. After 4 months of trying I finally consented to nursing 3 times a day and supplementing the rest. I went completely dry at 8 months. I was so sad but I just didn't produce. No one ever told me you could lack milk supply, in fact most people told me I wasn't trying hard enough. Although this isn't the case for all moms and I totally support breastfeeding as long as possible, I do think more people should be educated. In some cases they are educated and don't care. I met several moms who told me from day one they just didn't try because they thought is was too much work!

Jennifer said...

Learning how to breast-feed was one of the hardest things I ever did. And there is no way I would have been able to do it without the help of a lactation consultant at hospital (she gave me her home phone number!), the breast-feeding support group (once a week at the hospital), my mom (who nursed me), my sister-in-law (who nursed her daughters), and all-purpose nipple ointment (there were times I cried the whole nursing session because my nipples hurt so badly!). I think one reason it was so hard is because we don't really see much of it or talk about it before it happens. Two of my nieces (the ones who nursed) were really curious and asked lots of questions, and would always sit with us while Jane nursed. I think it's a great learning experience for them. Unlike my niece on my in-law side. I was nursing Jane in the living room, and using a nursing cover (the in-laws took a while to feel comfortable). Abby (two years old) came in and asked what Jane was doing. My mother-in-law jumped in and said, "Jane is hiding (under the nursing cover)." And I corrected her and said, "No, Jane is eating." I don't understand why people wouldn't want to use that as a learning experience. Abby has breasts! She might want to nurse her babies someday.