Breastfeeding is a hot topic, with celebrity moms like Gisele Bündchen, Kourtney Kardashian and Laila Ali using their star power to publicly tout nursing. Even first lady Michelle Obama is on board as an advocate, hence why breastfeeding has become a public health issue, much like seat belt use or smoking.
The message is clear. Breastfeeding is at its most popular level in more than 35 years, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting as many as three out of four women initiating nursing — up from one in five in 1972, the lowest rate noted in the last century, according to a review in The Journal of Nutrition. There are more lactation consultants than ever, government-funded support programs, faster and more affordable breast pumps and even iPhone apps available to help moms succeed at nursing. Yet at the same time, only 22 percent of babies receive breast milk until at least age 1, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. So what's the problem? Why are so many moms starting and then stopping breastfeeding or never starting at all?
Dozens of booby traps sabotage our efforts. As described by lactivists (lactation activists), booby traps are barriers that hinder a mother's ability to nurse successfully. Physical obstacles, such as low milk supply or a bad latch, as well as social ones, like nursing in public, put pressure on well-intentioned moms to toss out their nursing bras and opt for a bottle. “Nursing problems have become an epidemic,” says Diana West, a renowned lactation consultant who co-wrote the latest edition of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. When breastfeeding doesn't come easily, “Moms automatically assume they've done something wrong,” West says. But they haven't. They've just faced some obstacles that can seem insurmountable at the time. Doctors, lactivists, moms and more weighed in on the most common breastfeeding “booby traps.” Here's how to overcome them and maximize your chances of having a successful breastfeeding experience.