Breastfeeding Around the World: How American Moms Stack Up

Suzee Skwiot | Sep 17, 2014 Baby

mom breastfeeding baby

Breastfeeding is a global experience. Mothers around the world have the option to nurse their newborns, but the cultural expectations and ramifications vary by nation. Lansinoh Laboratories, Inc., a breastfeeding supply company, surveyed nursing mothers about how they view breastfeeding in their country.

The global survey polled more than 13,000 moms in Brazil, China, France, Germany, Hungary, Mexico, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and show us just how differently the cultures perceive nursing.

Little surprise: things are wildly different for moms around the world than they are here in the states. From the number of moms who want to breastfeed from the beginning to the number of women who face difficulty nursing in public, it's a very different world out there.

Are you surprised by the country where nursing a 2-year-old is most frowned upon?


Image via Corbis

  • Brazil


    Image via brenopeck/Flickr

    Nursing mothers in Brazil have one of the most favorable views of breastfeeding. Of the 2,002 mothers who were surveyed, 55 percent think breastfeeding in public is perfectly natural and a whopping 93 percent would feel guilty for not breastfeeding.

  • China


    Image via davidalmeida/Flickr

    Ask moms in China if breast is best and you'll get an overwhelming "yes!" Researchers found that 98 percent of moms answered favorably to all questions and are even huge proponents of pumping: 85 percent say they pump to express breast milk.

  • France


    Image via aigle_dore/Flickr

    French mothers, on the other hand, don't have such a rosy view of breastfeeding, and especially not in public. Of the 1,014 surveyed mothers, 41 percent consider breastfeeding in public "embarrassing." The nation also has the lowest percentage of mothers (just 65 percent) pumping breast milk and overall had the least positive answers in favor of breastfeeding.

  • Germany


    Image via brapke/Flickr

    Nursing moms in Germany similarly have lukewarm feelings about breastfeeding their kids. When asked if they would feel guilty if they did not breastfeed, German mothers were the only ones who overwhelmingly answered "no." Similarly, they were asked: "If you were to see a woman breastfeeding her 2-year-old, what would your first thought be?" Their top answer (the highest of all countries) was "the baby is too old."

  • Hungary


    Image via paulmannix/Flickr

    When researchers asked all mothers about the most common challenges of breastfeeding, the answers varied from pain to learning how to do it in the first place to the issue of having to do it in public. But only in Hungary did the answer "breastfeeding is NOT challenging" make it into the top list.

  • Mexico


    Image via newpn2000/Flickr

    Along with China, mothers in Mexico also had the most favorable responses to breastfeeding, as 98 percent of answers were positive. On top of that, more than half (51 percent) of moms view breastfeeding in public as "perfectly natural."

  • Turkey


    Image via lucasartoni/Flickr

    While the other eight nations had generally supportive and enthusiastic views on breastfeeding in public, 20 percent of mothers in Turkey view it as "wrong." But it's not all bad. If they were to see a mother breastfeeding her 2-year-old, Turkish women overwhelmingly said they would think "it's fantastic to see such dedication and perseverance and every mom should aim to breastfeed for as long." And out of all the countries, they were the most encouraging of nursing as long as possible.

  • United Kingdom


    Image via doug88888/Flickr

    Back over in the United Kingdom, mothers were all about nursing in open spaces. Think you'll be criticized for feeding your baby in the middle of a restaurant or park? Nope. Turns out, 63 percent (the most of any of the surveyed nations) of moms say breastfeeding in public is "perfectly natural" and only 2 percent deem it as "wrong."

  • United States


    Image via gauri_lama/Flickr

    Of the 2,045 American mothers who were polled, 93 percent feel that breastfeeding is the best way to feed the baby, and 57 percent are perfectly fine with public nursing and believe it's "natural." However, they do have their fair share of fears. When asked to select three of their biggest nursing challenges, moms in the USA are afraid that it would hurt, that the baby wouldn't latch, and that they wouldn't be able to nurse long enough.


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