According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), breastfeeding in the United States is on the rise. In fact, their breastfeeding report card shows that rates of initiation of breastfeeding rose from 74.6% in 2008 to 76.9% in 2009 births. The rates of breastfeeding at six months also increased from 44.3% in 2008 to 47.2% in 2009 births. These numbers represent the largest increases we have seen in more than a decade.
Some experts believe that the Internet and the increased flow of information brought about by computers has helped to educate more people about the benefits of breastfeeding to both the mother and the child. There are many benefits to breastfeeding that are well-known such as the protection it provides to newborn babies against illnesses, allergies, etc. There are other benefits that are not as widely known such as the fact that breastfeeding may help to protect your child from obesity later in life. Studies have also shown a connection between breastfeeding and cognitive development. Breastfeeding also offers many benefits to the mother. Many mothers who breastfeed report lower stress levels and lower incidences of post-partum depression. Other studies have shown a link between breastfeeding and a lowered risk for ovarian and breast cancers.
The bottom line is that breastfeeding provides your baby with everything he or she needs to grow and develop during the first six months of their lives. For this reason, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, although any amount of breastfeeding is beneficial. However, the reality is that breastfeeding is more challenging for some mothers and their babies than others. For this reason, hospitals and birthing centers offer lactation classes as well as lactation consultants that can help new mothers navigate the challenges of breastfeeding. To find out about the educational materials and resources available to you, talk to your OBGYN today.