If you're pregnant and planning to breastfeed for at least the recommended six months, good for you. You're probably not going to make it, but good for you for thinking you will anyway.
That's the harsh-but-true reality according to a discouraging new report about breastfeeding. It found that while more than 85 percent of women say they intend to breastfeed for three months or longer, only 32.4 percent actually do. Basically, researchers found that the road to a formula-fed baby is paved with good breastfeeding intentions.
Furthermore, the study found that moms who are obese, are smokers, or had the longest breastfeeding goals were the least likely to succeed. Single moms were also found to meet their goals less frequently than women in committed relationships.
Overall, the numbers are pretty depressing, and, unfortunately, I understand all too well how one can fall short of her breastfeeding goals. I too had great intentions of breastfeeding my children for the first year, but I didn't make it more than a few weeks without supplementing with formula and another month or two before I gave up altogether.
My son was a different story as he was a 27-week preemie and wasn't able to breastfeed in the beginning, which presented problems later. I pumped as long as I could. With my full-term daughter, however, breastfeeding was just too hard for a number of reasons. The bottom line is that it wasn't working for us. I regret now that I didn't try harder, and looking back I wish I'd been more prepared and more determined to stick it out.
I don't think this study should be used by those of us who failed to meet our goals to beat ourselves up, nor do I believe that formula is the devil. We do, however, know that breast milk is best for our babies if we can provide it, and this study is a harsh reality check for women as to the odds we're up against and how difficult it really can be, especially when we're not well prepared and don't have adequate support.
So how can a mom better succeed at her breastfeeding goals? WebMD provides a list of tips that can improve a woman's chance at meeting her breastfeeding goals. It includes things like:
Start breastfeeding right away. Breastfeeding in the first hour after birth can have a long-term impact on success.
Don't swaddle right away. Skin-to-skin contact is best.
Ask for help. This is the MOST important one as far as I'm concerned. For many women, breastfeeding is not as easy and idyllic as it's made out to be, and there are people who can and will help, but not if you don't ask.
Did you meet your breastfeeding goals? What do you feel like got in the way if you didn't?
Image via Jerry Bunkers/Flickr