All That Lactivism Is Working: Breastfeeding Rates See The Largest Jump In A Decade

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breastfeeding iconHere at Mommyish, we have a love-hate relationship with lactivism. I breastfed my daughter. I think that breastfeeding is important and that it’s something our society should support. But there are times when I think breastfeeding advocacy goes a bit too far, or ends up making moms feel more guilty than empowered.

Our opinion aside though, lactivism seems to be working. The CDC just released its latest breastfeeding report card, and the results suggest that all of the advocacy work done to encourage moms to nurse is really having an effect. Between 2008 and 2009, the last year for which data is available, the percentage of moms who start breastfeeding their newborns rose from 74.6% to just under 77%. That’s the largest one-year increase in the past decade. The percentage of moms still nursing after six months and after a year were also on the rise.

While the data isn’t available, I feel like it’s a safe assumption to say that those numbers have only increased in the next couple of years. Anymore, it seems assumed that mothers will breastfeed, at the very least, for the first six months. We all know the benefits. We all want the best for our children. So we breastfeed, unless our circumstance doesn’t allow for it.

And I guess, maybe we have to give a little credit to all those moms who have been so involved in promoting breastfeeding. All the women who sat at a nurse-in so that other moms would feel comfortable breastfeeding in public. All the moms who posted pictures on their Facebook page, whether they were taken down or not, told other mothers that nursing is beautiful and nothing to be ashamed of. All the lactivists, the ones who often make me feel defensive even as a mom who did breastfeed to the best of her abilities, helped this country achieve higher rates of nursing than we’ve seen in years.

We’re kicking off World Breastfeeding Week. We’re about to spend a lot of time talking about nursing, nursing support, nursing advocacy, nursing etiquette. But no matter where we might disagree with one another, we should probably all stand together and feel excited that more moms are breastfeeding than ever before. It really is the healthiest form of nutrition for our children. And while moms don’t agree on almost anything, we all want what’s best for our kids. Breastfeeding gives us that.

Obviously, the results vary by state. For example, less than half of Mississippi moms start off breastfeeding, while more than 90% of Idaho moms do. There’s still a lot of work left to be done. We haven’t seen the end of the lactivists. But maybe it will be a little bit easier to love them now that we know how effective their work has been.