According to the CDC, three out of four new mothers in the U.S. start out breastfeeding. Great! However, by the end of six months, only 43 percent of infants are still breastfed. But never fear, the Healthy People 2020’s objectives are for 82 percent of newborns to breastfeed initially and 61 percent after six months.
Breastfeeding protects babies from infections and illnesses such as diarrhea, ear infections, pneumonia and asthma. They are less likely to become obese, and breastfeeding reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. As for moms, they lose their baby weight quicker and have a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers. Families can save up to $1500 in formula costs for the first year, and a study in the Journal of Pediatrics estimates that if 90% of families breastfed for the first six months, the U.S. would save $13 billion a year from reduced medical and other costs. It’s good for the environment; no empty containers of formula to recycle or put in landfills.
This information wasn’t circulated when I breastfed my babies. It just felt like the right thing to do. I breastfed continuously for six years, and I’m so glad I did. But my daughter looks at me in horror when I tell her this; she breastfed her new baby for four months and then quit, citing the time and energy it took. I don’t know if it’s because the times have changed or what. It seems that many mothers today don’t want to be “tied down” to a breastfeeding infant when, if by using formula, they can hand the baby over to other caregivers. The speed of life is certainly a factor. In spite of all the wonderful benefits derived by breastfeeding, being able to keep up with the pace of life today is an important factor.
Whether breastfeeding or bottle feeding, life must slow down when a new baby arrives. Incorporating infant massage into daily routines can help supplement breastfeeding’s benefits, while decreasing the time and energy needed to breastfeed.
by Vimala McClure