Friday, January 8, 2010

Breastfeeding in the USA

I was out the other day with my family, eating dinner and nursing K. We were just having dinner as usual, chatting away, when I looked up and saw a woman "feeding" her baby and giving me the stink eye. By "feeding" I mean she was working on propping a bottle up on a towel for her baby, who was obviously too young to hold the bottle itself, while he sat in his bucket seat next to her chair. Now, I'm not sure why I was getting the stink eye but believe me, it was definitely directed at me and my nursing baby. I don't know this woman's story. Maybe she tried to breastfeed and really couldn't because of physical incapability or maybe she was just to lazy or maybe it was pumped milk she was giving baby in the bottle (still, she could have cuddled baby while feeding). I met her gaze and waited for her to break it like I usually do, I have nothing to be ashamed of, and I didn't think about it again until later that day. Then, I got to thinking and wondering about the United States and how we compared to other countries on the breastfeeding front. Yes, I am THAT big of a nerd. I love statistics.

I had learned a little about it in the CLC class I took a few weeks ago but it was a very condensed and only have the stats from the US. So of course I turned to Google. The CDC actually had a good bit of information percentage wise but it was still a little outdated. The WHO though had a searchable feature which is a nerd's paradise. Turns out that the US isn't doing as bad as I would have thought. Turns out that 73.9% of babies here were ever breastfed and the average age of weaning is six months. Here are some other countries stats for comparison.

Albania~ 92% (ever), 16m (average weaning age)
Denmark~ 98%, 6m
Italy~ 64%, 3m
Spain~ 78%, 3m
India~ 99%, <4 YEARS!
Australia~ 98%, 3m
Ethiopia~ 98%, 24m
Egypt~ 96%, 18m

So, we aren't the LOWEST. Which is honestly where I thought we might be. I would love to have reported that we had a higher than 90% ever rate but I guess that should just motivate me to get out there and be a good example. I am actually proud to say that most of my friends breastfed their babies for various amounts of time and lets face it, ANY breastfeeding is better than NO breastfeeding. Stink eye looks or not, I know whats best and I am not afraid to tell anyone who will listen (maybe that is why I don't have many exclusive formula feeding friends). The problem is finding people who are willing to listen. I love having the freedom to speak my mind without penalty but that does not mean that people WILL listen. Every one has their "reason" ranging from a real, physical issue to pure immaturity. Maybe someday America will catch up with the other nations with higher rates. I personally would love to just see a higher percentage of babies ever nursed. Colostrum is literally the perfect first food. For now though, I will do the best I can with encouragement to others and doing the best I can to fight the urge to give the stink eye to the bottle propping generation. Who knows, maybe I really can change the world. (LOL)


  1. Kudos for putting your baby's health over getting the stinkeye.

    Takes guts.

  2. Loved reading this! Sorry you got the stink eye but good for you!

    I am actually surprised the stat is that high and wonder if it is accurate! I didn't nurse my first, I was 17 young, and in denial that I was a mom. I regretted it the moment I dried up. My second, 10 years later I nursed. It was a rough road and wish people would have been a little more honest with me. Unfortunately at 4-5 months things got rough and I gave up :( Again I really regret it. Next baby I will not give in!

    Now I am rambling...thanks again for posting this :)

  3. Well, you have to remember that "ever" means even if they nursed for 5 minutes after birth. Which, is still a start! Even a tiny bit of colostrum is GOLD!


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