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New Study Shows Breastfeeding Rates at 51% After Birth

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Well this is dissapointing... I was under the impression that breastfeeding initiation rates were at 75% right now and that they didn't really drop sharply until 6 weeks when women went back to work.

According to a new survey by a group called "Childbirth Connection", the rates are MUCH lower.

Despite the importance of early contact for attachment and breastfeeding, most babies were not in their mothers' arms during the first hour after birth, with a troubling proportion with staff for routine, non-urgent care (39%). Although 61% of the mothers wanted to breastfeed exclusively as they neared the end of their pregnancy, just 51% of all mothers were doing so one week after birth, a troubling missed opportunity.

51%...that's really low. And of course that's just the first week. We all know that the first TWO weeks are the hardest and of course many moms begin going back to work at 6 weeks which causes another big drop-off. It's no wonder the U.S. breastfeeding rates are in the tank.

It makes me think of my own friends though... quite honestly, I'm the only person I know my age that managed to provide breastmilk for their kid for a full year. I know one person that exclusively pumped for 5 months after her c-section and another that EPed for 1 month after her c-section. All of the others tried to nurse and quit within a week or two.

For those interested in the hospital verses home thing for birth...here are the intervention rates for the hospital (obviously most of these will be around 0% for a home birth...)

The national survey polled 1,573 women who gave birth in 2005 and found that most mothers experienced numerous labor and birth interventions with various degrees of risk that may be of benefit for mothers with specific conditions, but are inappropriate as routine measures. Overall, survey mothers experienced the following interventions: electronic fetal monitoring (94%), intravenous drip (83%), epidural or spinal analgesia (76%), one or more vaginal exams (75%), urinary catheter (56%), membranes broken after labor began (47%), and synthetic oxytocin (Pitocin) to speed up labor (47%).

and on the ever growing "induction" trend...

Additionally, more than four out of ten mothers (41%) reported that their caregiver tried to induce their labor. When asked if the induction caused labor to begin, more than four out of five of those women (84%) indicated that it did, resulting in an overall provider induction rate of 34%. Among all survey mothers whose providers tried to start their labors, 79% cited one or more medical reasons for being induced, while 35% cited one or more non-medical reasons. Overall, 11% of mothers reported experiencing pressure from a health professional to have labor induction, and those reporting pressure were more likely to have had it.

The whole thing sort of compounds my belief that we will NOT be able to increase breastfeeding rates until we can DECREASE unnecessary medical interventions that leave mom and baby exhausted, over-medicated, and/or recovering from harder-than-necessary birth experiences.

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  1. Blogger K | 9:00 AM |  

    Amen! I am the intervention poster child -- induction, IV, AROM, catheter, episiotomy, yada yada yada.

    And I am positive these things influenced my success -- lack thereof -- with breastfeeding.

  2. Blogger heidi | 9:59 AM |  

    Hmm. I thought breastfeeding rates were around 65% in the beginning, which is still shamefully low. You're so right- we need to have a cultural overhaul in the way birth and nusring are approached in this country. Breastfeeding has to be normalized and women have to take back their power over their own birth process. In most cases, a little education is all that stands in women's way. In the other cases where things are harder, a serious commitment is needed. Things were hard after my delivery, and it would have been so easy to give up. After all the research I'd done, though, there was no way I was going to stop nursing if it was at all possible. After the few weeks of hard work, it's so easy now. I really think it's a failure of our society that more women don't get that.

  3. Blogger Jennifer | 11:02 AM |  

    K...I can get you the name and number of a great midwife for #2. ;)

  4. Blogger Jennifer | 11:06 AM |  

    See, I'd read higher breastfeeding rates as well, but I have no idea how old those stats were and I seem to recall the 65 or 70% rate being the "upon leaving the hospital."

    That makes sense as EVERYONE I know was still "trying" to breastfeed when they went home from the hospital. It's just that they all quit within the first few days after getting home.

    I agree with you on the hard/easy front. I honestly thought I'd just end up EPing again for this baby. I decided about a month or two before teh birth that I wanted to give nursing a try. I'm SO glad that I did and that I really pushed through the hell of the first week.

    I look back and think about having to pump, clean stuff, store milk, carry bottles with me, find a place to heat them up, etc... and I compare that to lifting my shirt ;) and I laugh and say "wow! I'm so glad it worked this time!!"

  5. Blogger K | 11:59 AM |  

    Jennifer -- Oh I wish I could do the homebirth but at my age and weight, I do fear that I am not an ideal candidate. Plus even if I could get over my fears, the hubby . . .

    Anyhoo -- next birth I am going to have a doula to advocate for me and I am going to do whatever I can to avoid the induction and the arom.

    send me an email smith.4941- at- osu.edu. I have a maya ring sling that may be perfect for you.

  6. Anonymous Hirkani | 11:52 PM |  

    In my country breastfeeding initiation rates are very high - 98%. But when mothers come home, rates rapidly drop.

  7. Blogger Meg | 10:00 AM |  

    Coalition for Improving Maternity Services has a great induction fact sheet that I try to hand out to all first time mothers before it is TOO LATE! IT is under resources at
    oh, and good breastfeeding fact sheets too :)

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