Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Looking at the numbers - breastfeeding

I had a conversation with my bestie awhile back about breastfeeding and how long women tend to breastfeed.  I felt like it was completely normal for women to breastfeed for at least six months, if not a year or longer.  She thought a year and even six months definitely didn't seem normal or common.  William is only five months old and I have gotten shocked responses when people find out I am still nursing.  Someone over the weekend even looked at me and asked "How much longer are you even going to do that anyway?" as if they were shocked that I would be nursing a five month old still.

I don't have any friends that have babies yet, so I don't have them to go by.  Some people in my family did it, but I guess I never really paid too much attention for how long they nursed.  I knew some of my hubby's friends didn't breastfeed, but I figured those were some exceptions.  I think because of all the lovely mommy bloggers I follow that support breastfeeding and even extended breastfeeding (beyond one year), I figured this was the norm.  So I decided to take a look at the numbers....I was somewhat disappointed.

It's pretty reassuring that 75% of mothers have ever breastfed, but then to see that number is significantly diminished by the time the babies are three months, to 33%, is kind of discouraging.  I was shocked to see that the national average for exclusively breastfeeding by six months was only a 13.3%.  [Source:  CDC]

It was pretty obvious that my understanding of reality was a wee bit off.  But then I kind of wanted to pat myself on the back for keeping it up.  I understand there are many reasons for women not being able to continue to breastfeed - supply (I can totally relate to this one), work, lifestyle, health/medication reasons and I would imagine support is a huge one.  I think a big part of my support  has come from complete strangers in the bloggy world - reading about women that have worked to successfully breastfeed their little ones and many who support extended breastfeeding.  For all you ladies at there that have nursed and probably unknowingly inspired someone else to breastfeed, you should also pat yourselves on the back!  Keep it up!


LeAnna said...

Blog hopped here from Just Another Day -- and was so surprised to see the numbers you listed on here. I had NO idea that bf'ing diminished that much by 3 months, though it makes sense to some degree. For many it's either "do or die" in the bf department by 2 months, I know with my first, the first 8 weeks were the hardest. But even then, in the circles I run in, 12 months is a minimum for nursing. I remember feeling like a failure when my son self weaned at 10 months of age. I got the questioning looks and "oh, really?" often. We're 6 months in with #2, and she's a champion nurser. I do hope she'll make it to a year, at least, but there is one thing I've learned with bf'ing -- some is better than none & give it your best and baby will do the rest! :)

Not a Perfect Mom said...

I had so many people tell me to give my kids real food...whatever, after the first kid it didn't bother me...

Natalie said...

Aren't those numbers crazy!!! Fiona is 13 months and still nursing like a champ. I can't imagine NOT nursing her. It's such a great way to bond with her. Congrats on making it this long nursing...I think the first few months are the most difficult!

JayZ said...

Just found your blog :-) Those numbers are crazy! I had no idea! I'm finding it a little hard to keep up the pumping at work and at almost 11 months, my daughter is showing less interest. But I plan on sticking it out to a year and I'll be very proud of myself! I know I'll be sad when we have our last session together because that's a time that's just for us. My daughter has had 1 cold (eventhough she goes to daycare!)and everyone that sees her says she looks so healthy. That makes me smile because my milk did that!


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