American Women Are the Worst Breastfeeders

breastfeedingOh, America. We do so many things right. We are the land of the free and home of the brave but we have far too many hang-ups about breasts to breastfeed. Yes, I believe that is the reason why we have dismal breastfeeding rates -- the worst, in fact, of all industrialized nations.

Breasts are sexual. Breasts should be perky. Get surgery if they aren't big enough. Brainwash, brainwash, brainwash. If we were brought up thinking breastfeeding is natural, normal, and if it was accepted by the general public, I think more women would nurse their babies. Or at least try.

This info comes from the 13th annual Mothers’ Index published by Save the Children. It looked at 165 industrialized and developing countries and shares the findings -- the most shocking is that the United States is at the bottom for breastfeeding. And while it's not the worst place in the world to be a mother, America isn't the best. The best place to be a mom is Norway followed by Iceland, Sweden, New Zealand, Denmark, Finland, Australia, Belgium, Ireland, Netherlands, and United Kingdom. The United States ranked 25th out of 43 developed countries on the list of best places to be a mom. Yemen, Afghanistan, and Niger are the worst. A bad place to be a mother means a bad place to be a child.
I know some are so tired to hearing about how important breastfeeding is. But new moms and moms-to-be often fair really well with encouragement, support, and good information. I know I did. So here is it. This study shows how good nutrition during a child's first 1,000 days -- which includes the start of the pregnancy until the baby's 2nd birthday -- is "critical to the future health, well-being, and success" of the child. So why not give it a shot?
I know that even moms who want to breastfeed face obstacles. Some just can't for many reasons. Some don't have support. Some have to go back to work and pumping isn't an option. Sometimes the milk dries up. We have terrible maternity leave. Terrible views about nursing into toddlerhood. Hang-ups about breasts. And in the back of the minds of far too many, breasts are for sexual pleasure and nothing else.
All of these things contribute to America being so low on the list of best places for mothers with tragic breastfeeding rates. It's low. Really low. Lower than it should be. We need to get over it. I wish moms around the country get together for a "take back our breasts" day. Where we hit the streets to announce that breasts aren't obscene. Where future generations of potential breastfeeding mothers can see and learn that breasts are also food sources, and nothing to fear in public. A man's breasts aren't, so why are ours? Just because they are more rounded? That's the only difference. Oh that, and the fact that a woman's breast can make milk. See my point?
If you can't breastfeed or if you tried it and hated it, that's one thing. But if you are caught up in thinking breasts are sexual and shouldn't be used for nursing a baby ... that's where we need reform.
We can do better, America.
Does the low breastfeeding rate surprise you? What about the fact that we rank so low on best countries for mothers? What do you think can and should be done?

Image via sdminor81/Flickr
Read More >