Breastfeeding is healthy, natural, and a heck of a lot cheaper than formula. For some mamas, the practice comes easy, and they’re well on their way to a happy, healthy relationship with breastfeeding. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there.
From a lack of maternity leave or pumping breaks to a lack of medical and personal support, quite a few factors can play into a new mama’s choice — or ability — to breastfeed. Many of them stem from the disadvantages caused by poverty.
Breastfeeding inequality is a serious global issue, but you may be surprised to learn just how prevalent it can be here in the United States. These statistics are particularly revealing:
- While mothers in wealthier states like Washington, Oregon, and California breastfeed at rates between 92-93%, those in poorer states like Louisiana, Kentucky, and West Virginia breastfeed at rated between 57-61%
- At the six month mark, 68% of wealthier mothers were still breastfeeding compared to 38% of those in poverty; additionally, 60% of married mothers were still breastfeeding compared to 29% of single mothers
A lack of support in the hospital and limited community education are also factors in breastfeeding equality, an issue that’s central to the cause of the World Alliance For Breastfeeding Action. As World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated from August 1-7, the group encourages all to turn an eye toward the many health benefits of breastfeeding for babies and mothers alike as well as the positive ecological role breast milk can play as a sustainable food source.
Mamas, it’s pretty clear — the breast vs. bottle debate needs to end. Instead let’s redirect that energy toward ending breastfeeding inequality, giving every mother the opportunity she deserves to make this highly personal choice.
I would like to thank Neve at WeTheParents.org for her meaningful contributation to my personal knowledge on this topic and for sharing the content with all of you!