More moms in the U.S. are breastfeeding than ever before, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than 4 out of 5 kids were breastfed at birth in 2013, around 81.1 percent, up from 79 percent in 2011. And almost one-third of children born in 2013, 30.7 percent, were still nursing at 12 months, compared to just 27 percent in 2011.
These improvements of several percentage points (representing hundreds of thousands of benefitting babies) show that a greater number of moms want to nurse and have the resources to keep it up. But unfortunately, doing so is easier in certain parts of the country than others. Some 50 percent of new moms stop nursing by the 6 month-mark and two-thirds by 12 months. It happens most often due to a lack of support from employers, healthcare providers and family.
The CDC pulled together a list of states where breastfeeding for the recommended 12 months is the hardest, based on how well the state’s hospitals integrate breastfeeding practices into maternity care; the number of births in “baby-friendly” hospitals; the number of infants receiving formula within 2 days of life; the number of La Leche league leaders and lactation consultants; and whether childcare facilities support onsite breastfeeding.
(It doesn’t take into account public nursing laws or workplace policies – but know that every state except for Idaho has laws explicitly allowing you to nurse wherever you want, and the Affordable Care Act requires employers to provide nursing employees with a private space to pump that’s not a bathroom.)
These are the worst states to be a nursing mom:
These are the best states to be a nursing mom:
- Rhode Island
- New Hampshire
Even if you’re living in a state with fewer breastfeeding resources, a dearth of baby-friendly hospitals doesn’t have to keep you from nursing for as long as you want. A recent survey found that asking your care provider about breastfeeding before you give birth, ideally in the third trimester, is a strong indicator of success. And once your newborn has arrived, you get another source of support in your child’s pediatrician.
You can also work with an international lactation consultant in your area. With fewer choices, you’ll be less likely to find one by word of mouth, but a quick search on the International Lactation Consultant Association website should help turn up someone close enough for you to meet with at least once.
And last, talking to moms who’ve been through it before has endless benefits. You might uncover a tip your male OB had never heard, and you’ll be reminded your struggle is totally normal.
U.S. breastfeeding rates are steadily approaching global children’s health goals, but we still need to focus on getting every mom the support she needs to feed her baby exactly the way she wants.
Image Source: Jamie Grill/Getty