By Heddi Nieuwsma
I’m a nursing mother these days. While the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for an entire year, I was curious about how many mothers actually do this. To find out, I reviewed some recent data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. These data estimate that only 24 percent of mothers are still breastfeeding their babies at 12 months (see table 1).
Table 1: Breastfeeding Report Card 2011, Percent of U.S. children who were breastfed
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Breastfeeding Report Card 2011, United States: Outcome Indicators, Provisional data, 2008 births
Even though research indicates the many benefits of breastfeeding for both babies and mothers, why are these rates so low? What can be done to ensure that nursing mothers receive the support they need and deserve? Some experts have suggested that mothers receive initial support for breastfeeding after giving birth, but more could be done to provide long-term support.
My son is quickly approaching 6 months of age, and to be honest, I look forward to introducing some solid foods and reducing his dependence on me as a food source. I’ve found breastfeeding to be extremely rewarding, but it can also be challenging at times. While I am a strong advocate for breastfeeding, I understand that every woman’s situation is different. I think women should have the freedom to decide whether or not to breastfeed based on their own individual needs.
Recommended Items for Nursing Mothers
For those of you that currently breastfeed or will in the near future, here’s my quick list of items that have made my life as a nursing mother easier:
- Lansinoh HPA Lanolin: I found this to be essential during the first few weeks.
- Nursing pillow: There are many kinds out there, but I prefer the Boppy.
- Nursing pads: To avoid embarrassing and uncomfortable leakage situations, these are a must.
- Nursing bras and tank tops
- Nursing cover-up and blankets: For nursing in public, I always have my “hooter hider” on hand. Thin nursing blankets also work, but for the less coordinated like me, an around-the-neck cover-up works great.
- Breast pump: For all the obvious reasons, this allows you some freedom to return to work, go for a run, etc. You can even buy hands-free pumps now!
- BPA-free baby bottles: I like the Born Free bottles that do not contain the potentially harmful chemical, Bisphenol-A.
For additional assistance, check out Lowell General Hospital’s Breastfeeding Support and Lactation Services. Here you’ll find information about:
- Inpatient Lactation Consultants
- Breastfeeding Classes
- Outpatient Breastfeeding Clinic
- New Mother Support Group
- Telephone Support: Call 978-937-6334 for help with your breastfeeding questions.
Your input requested: Do you have any additional advice or resources for nursing mothers? Please share your own thoughts, experiences, or stories in a comment below.
Nursing mothers need your help!