More moms are breastfeeding than ever before, which is great. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is proud of you, breastfeeding moms.
And Washington mamas and providers have reason to be even more proud: About 92 percent of babies born here in 2011 were breastfed at birth, according to an annual CDC Breastfeeding Report Card. (Nationwide, 79 percent of infants are breastfed at birth.)
But by six months, that figure dropped to 64.2 percent. (It should be noted that a lot of babies are also eating some grown up food by then. And some moms simply can’t make enough milk to keep up with their babies’ voracious appetites, and therefore supplement with formula.)
It’s not all ideal news in our state, though. Breastfeeding may be up, but the percentage of moms providing only breast milk to their babies at three and six months has declined since the CDC's 2007 report. The number has bounced around since then, with nearly half of all moms exclusively breastfeeding their 3-month-old babies. But this latest report shows a 3 percentage drop.
And formula is still introduced to babies within days of their birth. In Washington, 18.9 percent of the babies received formula within the first two days of life; the Healthy People 2020 goal is 14.2 percent.
(At 28.8 percent, New York has the highest percentage of babies receiving formula within two days of life.)
The CDC draws a strong parallel between number of lactation consultants in a state and breastfeeding success. “Professional lactation support can help mothers initiate and continue breastfeeding,” the report says.
Alaska, California, North Dakota and Vermont have had distinct breastfeeding success and are states with many lactation consultants. In Vermont, more than 60 percent of moms exclusively breastfed their 3-month-old babies.
Health organizations around the world, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, recommend that moms breastfeed exclusively for the first six months. They say infants should continue to be fed breast milk for at least a year.
Moms in the South were least likely to have exclusively breastfed their children at six months. Those states also had fewer lactation consultants.
The CDC’s Breastfeeding Report Card ranked states based on daycare support of breastfeeding and the availability of lactation consultants.
It also noted several breastfeeding success stories from around the U.S. In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the African American Breastfeeding Network hosts a monthly breastfeeding gathering. They have reached 800 pregnant women since 2008. Moms who have participated may return as “big sisters” to help new moms.
And at Terrebonne General Medical Center in Louisiana, babies are now placed directly on their moms’ chests after birth to help start breastfeeding.