August was declared National Breastfeeding Month by the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee and this year’s theme is “Together we can do great things!”. Creating thriving families and communities can’t be achieved by any one person, or by just one organization. It requires daily effort by all of us, and by working together to make a change.1 Knowing the benefits of breastfeeding and what the current state of breastfeeding in America is, may help more mothers to commit to breastfeeding and more societies to support it.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding impacts children’s short- and long-term health as it protects against acute infections and programs for a lower risk for chronic disease, including obesity.2 It may also enhance cognitive function and improve gut and intestinal development.3
Breastfeeding Rates in the United States
About 84.1% of mothers (roughly 4 out of 5) in the United States start out breastfeeding, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2020 Breastfeeding Report Card. However, by the time their babies are 6 and 12 months old, breastfeeding rates fall to 58.3% and 35.3% respectively. When comparing these statistics with those of previous years, it seems as if breastfeeding rates are increasing.4
However, America is not on track for achieving their Healthy People 2030 objective for the number of infants who are breastfed until 12 months of age. The Healthy People 2030 objectives were set to improve health and well-being for all Americans and the target for breastfeeding until 12 months of age is 54.1%.5
What Do these Numbers tell about Breastfeeding Support
The high breastfeeding initiation rate shows that most mothers in the United States want to breastfeed and start out doing so. But the drop in the number of babies who continue to be breastfed for up to 6 or 12 months suggests that mothers may not be getting the support they need from health care providers, family members, and employers to meet their breastfeeding goals.4
Paid Maternity Leave Influences Breastfeeding Statistics
Paid maternity leave has been shown to significantly lower the odds of maternal and infant re-hospitalization and a greater probability of doing well with exercise and stress management.6 It has also been shown that employed women are more likely to initiate breastfeeding and continue to do so until their baby is 6 months old if they receive 12 or more weeks of paid maternity leave compared to those without paid leave.7
Paid Maternity Leave in the United States
The United States is one of the richest countries in the world, but also one of the very few that do not offer some form of paid family leave for new parents. Here is how the United States compare to other countries.8
Interestingly, a review who considered data from six continents, found that women who had 3 months maternity leave were 50% more likely to extend the duration of breastfeeding compared to those who had to return to work sooner. Women who had 6 months or more of maternity leave were 30% more likely to breastfeed for at least 6 months.9
Nunona is Here to Help
Nutrition is critically important during postpartum and breastfeeding. In fact, maternal nutrition affects a child from conception and for the rest of his or her lifetime. That is why Nunona launched the Maternal Nutrition Movement.
At Nunona we remain a strong advocate for paid family leave, and societal shifts to better support breastfeeding. We will continue to show up for you and baby nutritionally and help you reach your goals. From the daily reminder to eat to the grab and go design Nunona Mama Balls are produced and packed so you can have you daily dose on the go or whilst you are breastfeeding. Made with whole food plant based ingredients to supply your body with nutrients that can transferred to your baby via your breastmilk. It’s our way to help you both surThrive postpartum.
- U.S. Breastfeeding Committee. 2022. August is National Breastfeeding Month [Online]. Available from: https://www.usbreastfeeding.org/national-breastfeeding-month.html [Accessed 14 August 2022].
- Geddes, D.T., Gridneva, Z., Perrella, S.L. et al. 2021. 25 Years of research in human lactation: From discovery to translation. Nutrients, 13, 3071.
- Nyquist, S.K., Gao, P., Haining, T.K.J et al. 2022. Cellular and transcriptional diversity over the course of human lactation. PNAS, 119: No. 15 e2121720119.
- Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. Breastfeeding Report Card 2020. [Online]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/data/reportcard.htm [Accessed 14 August 2022].
- Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Increase the proportion of infants who are breastfed at 1 year — MICH‑16 [Online]. Available from: https://health.gov/healthypeople/objectives-and-data/browse-objectives/infants/increase-proportion-infants-who-are-breastfed-1-year-mich-16 [Accessed 14 August 2022].
- Jou, J., Kozhimannil, K.B., Abraham, J.M. et al. 2018. Paid Maternity Leave in the United States: Associations with Maternal and Infant Health. Matern Child Health J 22: 216–225.
- Mirkovic, K.R., Perrine, C.G., Scanlon, K.S. 2016. Paid Maternity Leave and Breastfeeding Outcomes. Birth 43(3):233-9.
- Francis, E., Cheung, H., Berger. M. 2021. How does the U.S. compare to other countries on paid parental leave? Americans get 0 weeks. Estonians get more than 80. [Online]. Available from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/11/11/global-paid-parental-leave-us/#X7WPR6Q4ZRGE7CVNID2HV7VSWQ-3 [Accessed 14 August 2022].
- Navarro-Rosenblatt. D. and Garmendia, M. 2018. Maternity leave and its impact on Breastfeeding: A Review of the literature. Breastfeeding Medicine. 13(9): 589 - 597.