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Modern Parenthood

Breastfeeding goals: Over half of new moms miss the mark

Breastfeeding goals are largely unmet in the US where 85 percent of new moms intend to breastfeed for at least three months; more than half of all new moms miss that mark.

By Correspondent / June 4, 2012

Breastfeeding moms largely don't fulfill their goals of nursing the their infants for at least three months, a new study shows. Camie Goldhammer, chairman of the Native American Breastfeeding Coalition, with her daughter Johanna, 6 months, testifiied in April before the Seattle City Council which was weighing whether to specifically make it illegal in the city to ask nursing moms to stop, cover up, or move to a different location.

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This in from the American Academy of Pediatrics:  Although the vast majority (85 percent) of new moms say they intend to breastfeed their babies for at least three months, two thirds of them (or half of all moms) fail to meet their goals. A full 15 percent of these breastfeeding-intentioned moms stop nursing before they even leave the hospital.

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Correspondent

is a longtime Monitor correspondent. She lives in Andover, Mass. with her husband, her two young daughters, a South African Labrador retriever and an imperialist cat..

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The stats are part of an article in today’s “Pediatrics,” the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and are based on monthly questionnaires completed by thousands of moms between 2005 and 2007 as part of a joint Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration study. 

While there are a number of trends that one can sift out of the data – mothers who were married were more likely to achieve their exclusive breastfeeding intentions while moms who were obese or smoked were less likely to do so – some of the biggest indicators of breastfeeding success were connected to what happened at the hospital.

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New moms who began breastfeeding within an hour of giving birth and those whose babies were not given supplemental feedings or pacifiers were a lot more likely to achieve their breastfeeding goals.

Which takes us back to what breastfeeding proponents see as a really big problem in the United States: a hospital and commercial system that is set up to hinder, rather than help, nursing.

Despite a lot of hype about women breastfeeding (hello, Time Magazine), the US lags well behind other developed countries (and a lot of undeveloped ones, too) when it comes to nursing. It ranks last on a recent Save the Children “breastfeeding policy scorecard,” with only 35 percent of moms exclusively breastfeeding at three months. 
 
And although there’s a lot of talk in the medical world about the benefits of breastfeeding – the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends six months of exclusive nursing – there’s also a lot of contradictory behavior. 

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