Most women need help and support to do it well, experts say
SATURDAY, Nov. 3 (HealthDay News) -- More American women are choosing to breast-feed. That's the good news.
The discouraging news is that the percentage of women breast-feeding still falls short of national objectives, often because they experience problems or difficulties that are easily overcome, according to lactation experts.
Seventy-four percent of women who gave birth in 2004 initiated breast-feeding, up from 70.9 percent of women who delivered babies in 2000, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But that was still a bit short of the objectives set by the federal government's Healthy People 2010 initiative, which had hoped to have 75 percent of new mothers breast-feeding in 2004.
The number of women who were breast-feeding exclusively was even smaller. Just 30.5 percent of the women who delivered babies in 2004 breast-fed exclusively through age 3 months of age, although the national objective was 60 percent.
So, why aren't more women breast-feeding and for longer periods? Experts say that even new mothers who know all about the benefits of breast-feeding for their baby -- including protection from lower respiratory and middle-ear infections as well as a reduction in the risk of childhood obesity -- can get discouraged and give up.
Some of the most common reasons cited for stopping breast-feeding include sore or cracked nipples, not producing enough milk, a baby having difficulty feeding, or the perception that the baby wasn't satisfied by breast milk.
But breast-feeding also provides the mother with benefits. It helps speed the recovery of her body after birth, and recent studies have suggested that breast-feeding may lower a woman's risk of certain cancers, including breast cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
Here are some experts' best tips on succeeding with breast-fe
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