We're Doing The Best We Can
Moms are asked to wear many different hats, sometimes two or three at the same time. One of the biggest challenges that most moms face is how to find the time and the energy to feed their babies. A recent report by Renata Forste, titled, "Are US Mothers Meeting the Healthy People 2010 Breastfeeding Targets for Initiation, Duration, and Exclusivity?" published in the Journal of Human Lactation, lamented the fact that while 77% of moms in the US begin breastfeeding, only 36% are still breastfeeding at 6 months, well short of the goal of 50%. I believe that 36% are still breastfeeding at least once/day, but wonder about exclusive breastfeeding. I think it's unrealistic to expect women, many of whom are working outside the home and/or caring for other children to be breastfeeding at 6 months. It's a great goal and one that we're working on, and as Forste said, "Breastfeeding promotion programs encourage women to start but don't provide the support to continue." In order to get to the 50% goal, we have to have longer maternity leaves because returning to work and continued breastfeeding is impossible for too many women. It's not that moms don't want to breastfeed longer, they can't. And, in some countries where maternity leaves are longer, breastfeeding rates also decline after the initial programs' support ends. Clearly, there aren't simple magic wand solutions and there are many factors to consider.