Roxanne Beavers said she’d like to nurse her seven-month-old son for at least a year. Medically, she’s golden. But statistically, she’s going against the grain.
Many moms are choosing to stop nursing their babies sooner despite increasing breastfeeding rates for 20 years.
A recent survey by Maternity Experiences Study Group, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and Statistics Canada showed 90 per cent of women planned to breastfeed their babies longer than six months — but only 14 per cent of those women actually did so.
“A lot will depend on work, and a lot will depend on him,” Beavers said, referring to her son Oliver.
Many women have to stop breastfeeding earlier than planned for health reasons, too.
“Usually it’s a physical as opposed to an emotional choice,” Beavers said.
Communities — and hospitals in particular —need to be more supportive of breastfeeding, Beavers said.
A “nurse-in” was staged in February at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax after a woman was told to “cover up” while breastfeeding her baby.
Kathie Sutherland, a parent educator and co-ordinator at Maggie’s Place in Truro, suggests more support groups and more information for new mothers are the keys to improving duration rates.
“The goal is that every baby be breastfed exclusively for six months, and continue breastfeeding for two years, as the World Health Organization recommends,” Sutherland said.