Let’s hear it for your girls! New government figures are out, and more new moms are starting out breastfeeding their babies. In 2008 (the most recent year for which they have figures) 75 percent of new moms gave nursing a try, up from 70 percent from 2000.
An even brighter spot: 44 percent (up from 35 percent) of moms are still nursing their babies at the 6-month-mark, according to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of baby’s life. The more breast milk a baby receives, the lower the risk of colds, SIDS, ear and respiratory infections, diabetes and obesity. In fact, health benefits of breastfeeding abound. And a recent Harvard Medical School study even put a price tag on those benefits: $13 billion in health-care costs would be saved if 80 percent to 90 percent of women nursed for at least 6 months.
Latinas were leading the breastfeeding charge, with 80 percent of moms starting out breastfeeding. White moms followed with 75 percent. African-American moms are still lagging behind their Caucasian and Hispanic counterparts, but strides are definitely being made: 59 percent of black moms start out breastfeeding — that’s up from 47 percent in 2000.
“This persistent gap in breastfeeding rates between black women and women of other races and ethnicities might indicate that black women are more likely to encounter unsupportive cultural norms, perceptions that breastfeeding is inferior to formula feeding, lack of partner support, and an unsupportive work environment,” the CDC report said.
White moms were more likely to make it to the 6-month mark (47 percent), followed by Latinas (45 percent) and African-Americans (30 percent).
Ultimately, the AAP endorses babies’ receiving breast milk until at least 12 months of age, along with solid foods. Those numbers were a bit less encouraging: just 16 percent of babies were still getting mama’s milk at a year old.
The CDC survey also highlighted two of its breastfeeding support programs: the Best Fed Beginnings project, which is helping hospitals improve breastfeeding support with the goal of them earning a Baby Friendly hospital designation (list of accredited hospitals is here), and a grant to six states to help boost breastfeeding numbers among African-Americans and Latinas.
How long did you breastfeed? Did you find all the support your needed? Leave a comment.