Breastfeeding is not always easy.
Let’s get that out of the way. And for many people, breastfeeding might not be a viable option. That’s ok.
At Ergobaby we recognize that everyone comes to parenthood through a unique journey and that journey doesn’t stop once a baby joins your family. Our goal is to support parents wherever they’re at in their parenting journey.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months. We also recognize that fed is best. If you’ve chosen to bottle feed or formula feed, no judgment here. You do what’s best for your family with guidance from your care providers!
August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month and whether you’ve chosen to breastfeed, bottle feed, formula feed, or a combination of everything – there’s a lot to learn when it comes to children’s health and the overall status of breastfeeding in our society today!
- Week 1: World Breastfeeding Week
- Week 2: Indigenous Milk Medicine Week
- Week 3: Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Week
- Week 4: Black Breastfeeding Week
According to the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality, “Many mothers and birthing people struggle to reach their breastfeeding goals, and sixty percent do not breastfeed as long as they intended to.
Rates of breastfeeding in the United States vary widely because of the multiple and complex barriers mothers face when starting and continuing to breastfeed.
Factors that influence how long a baby is breastfed, including issues with lactation and latching, concerns about infant nutrition and weight, concerns about taking medications while breastfeeding, and implicit bias experienced through unsupportive hospital practices and policies.”
Research shows that breastfeeding is a key element in sustainable development strategies because it improves nutrition, ensures food security, and reduces inequality between countries.
“But you can’t talk about breastfeeding in the United States without pointing out that every other wealthy country has found a way to accommodate breastfeeding mothers, and usually in the form of lengthy paid maternity leave. It’s very hard for American women to breastfeed, even according to our own medical guidelines, because the social supports are not in place.” Jacqueline H. Wolf
In the United States, “45 percent of U.S. adults indicated that they believed a breastfeeding mother has to give up too many habits of her lifestyle.1 In addition, the commitment required by breastfeeding and difficulties in establishing breastfeeding are sometimes seen as threats to mothers’ freedom and independence.2”
According to the CDC, breastfeeding rates are markedly different in some areas of the country:
- Babies in urban areas are more likely to ever be breastfed than those in rural areas
- Babies in the southeastern U.S. are the least likely to ever be breastfed.
There are also racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities:
- 88.2% of Asian-American infants are breastfed
- 86.6% of Caucasian infants are breastfed
- 82.9% of Hispanic infants are breastfed
- 74% of African-American infants are breastfed
- For mothers who make less than the U.S. poverty threshold, 74.5% ever breastfed their babies, and only 43% breastfeed for at least 6 months
- For mothers who earn at least 600% of the U.S. poverty threshold, 93.5% ever breastfeed their babies, and 74.3% breastfeed for at least 6 months
Additionally. 60% of women in the US don’t breastfeed as long as they intended to. Some of the reasons include:
- Problems with latching
- Concerns with infant weight
- Lack of support from work and family (Only 49% of US Employers currently provide an on-site lactation/mother’s room.)
- Unsupportive medical practitioners
- Lack of experience or understanding amongst closest family and friends
- Lack of breastfeeding community
- Lack of instruction, information, and support from health care professionals
- Hospital practices that make it hard to get started with successful breastfeeding
- Lack of accommodation to breastfeed or express milk at the workplace
What can be done?
- Advocate for more hospitals to incorporate the recommendations of UNICEF / WHO’s Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative
- Provide breastfeeding education for health clinicians who care for women and children
- Ensure equal access to International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs)
- Create and maintain lactation support programs for employees with clean spaces for mothers to breastfeed
- Establish paid maternity leave for employed parents
- Improve community programs that provide support and counseling
- Use community organizations to promote and support breastfeeding
Ways to Support Breastfeeding Awareness Month
- Donate to a breastfeeding organization
- Share positive posts about breastfeeding on social media
- Meet up with other breastfeeding parents to celebrate and discuss ways of supporting one another
- Thank a breastfeeding parent who has supported you or who you admire
- Thank a lactation consultant or other breastfeeding support person
- Share a breastfeeding selfie on social media if you feel comfortable
- Wear breastfeeding advocacy gear, such as t-shirt, pins, or wristbands
- Read your favorite breastfeeding book, or read up on the newest research on breastfeeding
- Support a woman’s shelter or domestic abuse shelter by donating money for pumps, or donating breastfeeding pillows, nursing bras, or other nursing gear