Breastfeeding is on the rise in the US, but few continnue breastfeeding for the recommended 12 months.

Breastfeeding Is On The Rise, But Few Mothers Stick With It For The Recommended Time

Breastfeeding has been a hot topic among the public of late, but the dose of negative comments from a wary public has not had an affect on breastfeeding moms. In fact, breastfeeeding is on the rise among U.S. moms, says a new report. A record number of those mothers are still breastfeeding at 6 months.

The report, issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). states:

“Breastfeeding is good for the mother and for the infant – and the striking news here is, hundreds of thousands more babies are being breastfed than in past years, and this increase has been seen across most racial and ethnic groups.”

However, CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., notes that women are still not breastfeeding for the recommended 12 month time period. “Despite these increases,” Friedan claims, “many mothers who want to breastfeed are still not getting the support they need from hospitals, doctors, or employers. We must redouble our efforts to support mothers who want to breastfeed.”

Between 2000 and 2008, the percentage of new mothers who said they breastfed their infants for any amount of time increased from 70.3 percent to 74.6 percent. The percentage of mothers who said they breastfed for six months rose from 34.5 percent to 44.4 percent. The percentage who said they breastfed for one year climbed from 16 percent to 23.4 percent.

“Despite increases in the prevalence of breastfeeding, fewer than half of the infants in the survey were still breastfeeding at 6 months, indicating that women who choose to breast-feed their infants need support to continue breastfeeding,” the report said.

“Many mothers who want to breastfeed are still not getting the support they need from hospitals, doctors, or employers,” Frieden said in a statement.

“We must redouble our efforts to support mothers who want to breastfeed.”

While women of all ethnicity have shown an increase in breastfeeding, for some women it is still a particular challenge. According to the report, African-American women struggled the most with finding a work and home atmosphere supportive enough to continue breastfeeding. In 2008, the percentage of black women who said they had ever breast-fed their infant was about 59 percent, compared to 75 percent for white women and 80 percent for Hispanic women, the report said.

Some factors that make it more likely for black women to stop nursing are unsupportive work environments.

Researchers for the CDC suggest that there are things that can be done to help raise support for breastfeeding mothers. Strategies include increasing support for organizations that promote breastfeeding in minority women, and increasing the number of lactation consultants in minority communities.

Many women leave the hospital feelings confident about breastfeeding, but quit when they find challenges at home. An earlier report by the CDC suggested that hospitals follow up with women regarding their breastfeeding to offer support.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusively breastfeeding infants for six months. Ideally, babies should be breastfed until their first birthday in addition to feeding him or her other foods. Breastfeeding has been linked to a number of health benefits, including a reduced risk of childhood obesity and certain childhood infections.

Why do you think that women are having a hard time breastfeeding for a full year?

[Image via Shutterstock]

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