My goal was to breastfeed for a year as the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that cow's milk not be given to babies who are under one year old. Because I did not want my baby to receive artificial milk, I made it a goal to breastfeed for at least a year. I believe that shear hearheaded determination is what got us through this process. Of course, Lily has the easy part.
Now that I have entered the realm of "extended breastfeeding," I know I am going to need to defend my choices. This is new territory for everyone in my family. My mom breastfed me for four months or so, so she was familiar with breastfeeding to some extent. Other than that, neither my husband nor I were exposed to breastfeeding very much. I am thankful that he has been as supportive as he has been.
So, what does breastfeeding look like in the United States?
- 75% of moms have at least initiated a breastfeeding relationship.
- 43% of moms are still breastfeeding when their baby reaches 6 months.
- 22.4% of women are still breastfeeding at 12 months.
That is nearly a quarter of moms. I could look at it several different ways. I could think, "Hey, I am pretty fantastic. ONLY 1 in 5 moms are still breastfeeding at 12 months. I am so awesome!" Or I could think, "Nearly a quarter of moms are still breastfeeding at 12 months. That's 1 in 4. I'm not so weird after all! I am so awesome!" I suppose, either way I look at it, I am awesome.
As I was looking at these statistics, I wondered, "Okay, so 43% of moms may still be breastfeeding at 6 months, but is this exclusive breastfeeding? They could be supplementing with formula or solids." Keep reading the chart.
- 33% of moms are exclusively breastfeeding at 3 months.
- 13.3% of moms are exclusively breastfeeding at 6 months.
Hmmm.....13.3% is not all that great. I wonder why the statistic is so low. I know I had to fight people off with a stick to keep them from giving my baby solids before 6 months. I don't know why it is such a big deal for a baby to eat stuff. How come it's not so fun to change a diaper? Or give the baby a bath? They make funny faces when you do those things too.
These were the national average, which all met the Healthy People 2010 goal. Woohoo! Way to go United States!
Now how did Texas stack up? (And Louisiana-my home state)
- 75.8% of moms initiated a breastfeeding relationship. (56.6%)
- 43.6% of moms were breastfeeding at 6 months. (20.2%)
- 21.8% of moms were breastfeeding at 12 months. (9.8%)
- 27.6% of moms were exclusively breastfeeding at 3 months. (22%)
- 11.1% of moms were exclusively breastfeeding at 6 months. (7.8%)
From that information, I am really glad I am a breastfeeding mom in Texas. Just with numbers, there is more support. I'd rather be in a place where 1 in 5 women are still breastfeeding a one year old than a place where 1 in 10 women are still breastfeeding a one year old.
So what does the AAP say about how long babies need to be breastfed?
"The AAP recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for about the first 6 months of life. This means your baby needs to additional foods (except Vitamin D) or fluids unless medically indicated. Babies should continue to breastfeed for a year and for as long as is mutually desired by the mother and baby. Breastfeeding should be supported by your physician for as long as it is the right choice for you and your baby." (emphasis mine)
We made the year. Yay! Now I see that Lily is not ready to quit. I am not ready to quit. So we should not quit. I'll admit there are days where I have thoughts and fantasies about quitting, but I really am not ready to quit. I'll also admit I never ever ever ever ever ever in my wildest dreams thought I would ever be that kind of mom. I've know since my little brother was born that I would breastfeed for one year. That was it. Well, the year has come and gone and I just don't know when we'll stop. Who knows? She may be done with it today. I just don't see that happening though. At this point, as long as she wants to, I still want to. Though, I may be changing my mind pretty soon about that if we don't get our lazy latch back on track pretty soon.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Breastfeeding Report Card for 2010
AAP Breastfeeding FAQs