August 1-7 was World Breastfeeding Week, an annual celebration to encourage exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. Advocates of exclusive breastfeeding claim that breastfeeding provides a host of health benefits for both mother and child, including providing critical nutrients, protection from deadly diseases, and fostering growth and development for the child. One thing is for certain - attitudes towards breastfeeding are changing rapidly from one generation to the next. Over half of the infants born in 1950 were reared on commercial infant formula. Today, more and more women are choosing to breastfeed their children instead.
With all the attention on breastfeeding this month, we decided to survey members of our Community to see how the women who use Kindara feel about breastfeeding and breastfeeding in public. We had a few hypotheses about how the results might come out. Because the women who use Kindara are using a natural method of pregnancy achievement or avoiding pregnancy, we thought there would be a bias in favor of breastfeeding compared to the U.S. population overall. We also thought our woman-positive sample would be more likely to express support for women breastfeeding in public. Here’s what we found.
Nearly a third of our sample said that they were not breastfed when they were infants. This is hardly surprising considering the high prevalence of formula feeding in the 1950s and its steady decline since the 1970s.
We asked our participants if they planned to breastfeed in the future or if they had breastfed in the past. As expected, the overwhelming majority of respondents answered in favor of breastfeeding. Only 2.4% of our sample answered "no." Two of these women explained that they could not meet the schedule requirements that breastfeeding requires, and the third explained that she was on a medication that would be unhealthy for the baby.
Our last question yielded some interesting results. Although virtually everyone in the survey believed that breastfeeding was normal and healthy, about half the participants said that women should cover themselves while breastfeeding in public and the other half said that no cover is needed. This is a divisive issue that has been the subject of much social and even legal debate. Although breastfeeding in public is legal in most U.S. states, many mothers are still reluctant to do so because of many individuals' continuing disapproval of the practice. The scientifically-studied benefits of breastfeeding have swayed public opinion in favor of breastfeeding over the last forty years, but the social acceptance of public breastfeeding may take longer to resolve.