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!