Thursday, October 14, 2010

Report: Moms Give Up Breastfeeding Too Soon

Lack of support for nursing mothers means babies lose out on benefits.

Thanks to baby formula recalls and increased research on the health and economic benefits of breastfeeding—for moms as well as babies—most mothers these days start out breastfeeding their babies. That's good news. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) 2010 report card on breastfeeding in the United States shows that fewer babies are enjoying the benefits of breastfeeding throughout their first year of life.

THE DETAILS: The CDC’s Healthy Targets for breastfeeding includes a goal to have 40 percent of babies nursing exclusively until 3 months. It also aims to increase the rate of breastfed 6-month-olds to 50 percent and 12-month-olds to 25 percent. With a national average of 43 percent and 22 percent, respectively, we’re currently falling short of that goal. “Breastfeeding continuation rates decline rapidly in the first days and weeks after birth,” says Rush University breastfeeding researcher Janet Engstrom, PhD, RN. She pegs a a lack of adequate support for breastfeeding as the big reason for that drop-off. “Support includes everything from simple encouragement and emotional support by friends and family to the provision of comprehensive lactation services by knowledgeable and skilled health professionals," Engstrom explains.

WHAT IT MEANS: Research has demonstrated that even in the most difficult circumstances, women will provide their milk if they receive the help that they need. So giving nursing mothers the help they need is bound to lead to more babies enjoying the benefits of breast milk.

How to do that? Birthing facilities, lactation experts, legislation, and infrastructure all contribute support and information for nursing moms. If you’re a breastfeeding mother looking for education and assistance, you can contact La Leche League or the International Board of Certified Lactation Consultant Examiners to speak with certified lactation educators and designated lactation professionals. Organizations such as Loving Support also help moms get in touch with peer counselors so that they can start reaping the health, economic, and environmental benefits of breastfeeding.

SOURCE: Rodale