Nursing Mothers Need Your Support

Nursing Mothers Need Your Support
November 30, 2011 jflojennings

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:

  1. Lansinoh HPA Lanolin: I found this to be essential during the first few weeks.
  2. Nursing pillow: There are many kinds out there, but I prefer the Boppy.
  3. Nursing pads: To avoid embarrassing and uncomfortable leakage situations, these are a must.
  4. Nursing bras and tank tops
  5. 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.
  6. 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!
  7. 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!

Comments (15)

  1. Christine 9 years ago

    Great post, Heddi! A quality breast pump is key. I worked for a fairly small company at the time I was breast feeding and my employer set aside a small room that was a storage space with a lock on the door, added a mini-fridge and chair for me to pump. Setting this plan up before I left for maternity leave made my return to work so much easier!

  2. Kristen Eriksen 9 years ago

    Great topic, Heddi! I am off to a meeting and then working at LGH tonight, but have oh so much to say about this!!!! Will reply with lots of info soon!

    Kristen Eriksen

    • Heddi 9 years ago

      Fantastic! Thanks, Kristen. Look forward to seeing your comments/advice.

  3. Kay Brown 9 years ago

    Hi Heddi!! I love reading this and knowing you’re still breastfeeding! Trinity is 10 months old now and I’m currently struggling to keep my milk supply up, it’s almost down to zero :( It was a huge battle for the last few months to get her to want to nurse at all during the day, she was sooo distracted and didn’t want anything to do with just laying there and nursing. I tried pumping as much as I could but, nothing works better at keeping your supply up than actual nursing. I still breastfeed her at night, which I’m trying my hardest to hold onto, but even that seems like it’s not going to work out. Now if only I could keep doing it until she’s 12 months!! I would like to add that the Lowell W.I.C. office has Breastfeeding Peer Counselors that help you and they have a 24 hour Warm Line you can call if you need help! It’s amazing how far the whole Breastfeeding support has come along! Keep it up Heddi!

    • Heddi 9 years ago

      Hi Kay! Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments and advice!! I really appreciate you sharing your personal experiences like this and am sure others will too. I’ve definitely noticed the distraction issue more with baby #2 because he always needs to know what his big brother is up to. :) Good for you that you’ve kept it up for 10 months! Not sure I’ll make it for a full year, but I’ll certainly try.

  4. Heide Woodworth 9 years ago

    Fantastic post, Heddi. My personal list of helpful things would also include a list of names and phone numbers of those people who you know will be supportive and just listen or say the right thing and a list of names NOT to call as they will say the wrong thing. It doesn’t matter if they are your closest friends, if they are going to question you or give unhelpful advice, then reserve their number for chats about other things.

    Other blogs I like that have good advice or just stories on which to commiserate are and

    • Heddi 9 years ago

      Hi Heide! I like the phone list idea. Yes, there are definitely times when you just need to “phone a friend” for some advice/support. I’ve been to the kellymom site several times, most recently to look up info on the impact of running/exercise on milk supply. The blog you mentioned is new to me, and looks hilarious. She wrote about nursing in a dental chair? Very impressed. :)

  5. Heide Woodworth 9 years ago

    Ooh…also, another really good site for info and support:

    • Heddi 9 years ago

      I hadn’t seen this one either. Interesting articles on “unsupportive support.”

  6. Great post! It seems like a lot of moms quit breastfeeding in the first month because learning to nurse is so difficult. Mastitis, low supply, cracked nipples, etc. Ouch. It was a rough first month for me and a steep learning curve, but I found sticking it out was so worth it. Milo just turned 2 and we are still nursing. And now I find I get some strange looks when I tell them we’re still nursing. I tell them it’s the new hippie standard. And I’ve got one healthy kid.

    • Heddi 9 years ago

      Thanks, Sabina! Yes, those first few weeks and months can definitely be the hardest. Kudos to you for sticking it out. Two years is actually recommended by the World Health Organization ( Maybe you could remind people of this next time they give you such strange looks. 😉

  7. Kristen Eriksen 9 years ago

    From a “registered nursing” perspective, there are so many factors involved here, that I don’t know if I can cover them all……

    As a plug for LGH, I must say, we have a great group of experienced lactation consultants, as well as nurses on MIU, who will stand on their head to help someone learn to breastfeed. I think the biggest challenge that we face is all the other issues that make it difficult for people to do what they really need to do to have a successful nursing experience.

    First of all, new moms need support about making the decision to breastfeed before they deliver. At Lowell General Hospital, the lactation consultants got a grant a few years ago to give info prenatally at OB/GYN offices to encourage BF. This increased BF initiation at the time. There was no funding to continue after the grant, but it worked well when they did it. They then continued to offer freebies, and support afterwards, but people just didn’t come in the numbers that they expected. The doctor’s offices really need to beef up their education prenatally to help with this.

    Another major component is financial, unfortunately. Many moms are returning to work, and find it too difficult to exclusively breastfeed. We have many young parents, even teenagers, who have to return to work or school soon after delivery. As others mentioned, it is very hard to keep up milk supply with pumping. I guess there is a push to have insurance companies cover breast pumps for everyone to help encourage this. We shall see………..

    There are also many cultural differences which may discourage BF. We (meaning the nurses at LGH) try to give the most current info, but it often falls on deaf ears. One of the lactation consultants recently told me that a Khmer speaking patient (woman from Cambodia) told her through the interpreter that she wasn’t going to listen to the lactation consultant because she was not from Cambodia. When the interpreter shared her personal breastfeeding experience with the same information, the patient chose to listen to the suggestions. To some, it is a sign of wealth and prosperity to give your infant formula. Cultural belief systems are very strong, and often impossible to conquer. At LGH, we have a very diverse population. My personal experience is that we give them the information, and they can choose to take our recommendations if they want.

    There are also many people who do not want to, or can’t breastfeed. People on certain medications, with addictions, abuse histories, and infectious diseases should not breastfeed. Oh, the list goes on!!! And although I am a major supporter of BF, not everyone wants to do it!

    Personally, I think that it is great that the government and CDC is promoting breastfeeding, but unrealistic to think that breastfeeding exclusivity (meaning that all babies are fed breastmilk and ONLY breastmilk for the first year of life) can really be achieved.

    • Heddi 9 years ago

      Kristen, thanks so much for weighing in! Great to get your perspective on these issues. I agree – we could have a whole series of blog posts on breastfeeding. So many different facets to this issue (physical, psychological, socioeconomic, cultural, etc.). I just took a quick look at two studies: one from 2008 that found higher breastfeeding rates among women with higher incomes (, and a 2006 study that found maternal and paternal education positively associated with breastfeeding, after adjusting for income levels ( It certainly seems a case could be made for longer and paid maternity leave and/or policies to support education. Yes, everyone’s individual situation is completely different, and many factors to consider. Keep up the good work @ LGH! :)


  1. […] works for them). In 2011, about 24 percent of mothers breastfed for an entire year, which I’ve written about before. Therefore, those making it to 3 years, as shown on this photo, comprise a small […]

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