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Breastfeeding Rate Hits 20-Year High

As an expectant mother who recently made the decision to breastfeed?or at least give it a try?I was surprised to see the new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which states that 77% of new mothers breast-feed their babies. A spokesman said this may represent an all-time high, according to an article published by the Associated Press.

For white women, the number is up from 62 percent to 79 percent, while an even more marked increase exists amongst black women, where the rate has risen from 36 percent in 1993 ? 1994 to 65 percent today. The CDC Web site offers a state-by-state breakdown of percentages in the Breastfeeding Report Card.

Numerous factors may be responsible for this paradigm shift, including educational campaigns showing that breast milk protects babies against disease and obesity, and a culture that has grown more supportive and accommodating of nursing mothers.

I suspect that the recent emphasis on ?green? living may also have an influence: less (or no) bottles to wash and, eventually, throw away; no rubber nipples; no formula containers that end up in a landfill. There?s also no concern over whether the milk is laced with hormones or other undesirable additives, although the mother does need to watch what she eats. Hopefully, this will just be a natural extension of healthy eating habits from your pregnancy, though.

The weak economy, too, may bring an even greater rise in the number of breastfeeding mothers. After all, breast milk is free, and the more baby drinks, the more mom?s body produces. It’s a perfectly-designed system.

Of course, ecological and economical effects are too recent to show up in a study conducted from 2004 to 2007, but I wouldn?t be surprised if we see this 20-year-high increase once again by the time the next report is released.

The CDC study also gauged state-by-state support of breastfeeding by looking at factors such as laws that protect breastfeeding in public and legislation supporting breastfeeding mothers who return to a job outside the home, professional support, hospital support, infrastructure, including public services, and mother-to-mother support in the form of La Leche Leagues per 1,000 births.

The La Leche League is made up of local peer support groups to help pregnant women who are considering breastfeeding and new mothers who are already nursing. Breastfeeding can be a scary thing for a first-time mother, and this type of ?been there, done that? support can be crucial in a new mother?s decision to continue nursing.

As with most things related to pregnancy and childbirth, you can also find many breastfeeding resources online.

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