This month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that most new moms in the United States are breastfeeding, but they would like them to do more.
Women need better support from health care leaders, employers, policymakers, clinicians and friends and family, the CDC stated, in order to make this happen.
Amazingly, more than 80% of American mothers currently breastfeeding their babies at birth.
But only about 50% of these are still feeding their babies natural milk once they reach 6 months of age, and less than a third of new moms are feeding their babies breast milk at 12 months.
This is in contrast to the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that babies be breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months of life.
According to the Mayo Clinic, extended breast feeding- feeding for 12 months or more- has benefits for both the baby and the mother. Babies continue to ingest valuable antibodies through their mother’s milk, and for mom’s, extended breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
Experts say research suggests the longer breast-feeding continues, the better a mother’s health could be.
With no organized maternity or paternity leave for new parents in the U.S though, extended breastfeeding can be difficult for parents.
Returning to work continues to be a high priority for many new moms in the country in order to pay bills, which can make extended breast feeding much more difficult to participate in.
Looking at the global picture, worldwide, babies stop breastfeeding on average between the ages of 2 and 4.