Friday, May 9, 2008

Number of Babies Receiving Breastmilk at an All Time High

by Wendy Haldeman, MN, RN, IBCLC, Co-Founder of The Pump Station

According to the latest report for the Center for Disease Control, more than three-quarters of new mothers are now nursing their infants. This is the highest mark in at least 20 years. The most dramatic increase occurred among African-American women, rising from 36 percent to 65 percent. Reasons for this elevation include the rise in education campaigns claiming that breastfed infants are better protected against disease and childhood obesity than formula fed babies. Additionally, there may be a changing culture in the U.S. which supports the nursing mother.

In the spirit of our month-long celebration of mothers, I would like to propose an additional hypothesis. Time and again I have had the privilege to observe mothers generously supporting one another. During those first few weeks when a new mother is struggling with common challenges of breastfeeding, knowing that other women have successfully dealt with sore nipples and engorgement is extremely reassuring. As new mothers are often unsure of their ability to feed their babies, having a knowledgeable breastfeeding mom share her experiences and support is invaluable. The more experienced mothers we have acting as role models and continuing to lend advice and support to the new mother, the higher the breastfeeding rates will climb. A mother tutoring new mothers in the art of breastfeeding is powerful. It is profound. It is one of the things I love most about my job.