41% of Parents Say They Met Their Breastfeeding Goals

In the midst of calls that “the best food is the best,” parents know that the conversation about feeding the baby is more complex, complicated and confusing. Managing expectations about what your feeding journey might look like and finding the support you need isn’t easy in America, and it shows.

The 2024 State of Nutrition The report is here to help those in and around the parenting community understand more about US feeding culture and how we can better support parents. The survey, conducted on behalf of bobbie, Willow and SimpliFed, surveyed the opinions of 1,899 new parents who had a baby in the past year.

The researchers compiled the information into a broad overview of the emotions surrounding feeding, the expectations and support given to new parents. According to the survey, 71 percent of parents felt proud about breastfeeding, 45 percent felt proud of their pumping efforts, and 24 percent said they were proud to feed their baby formula.

Although these percentages emphasize the pride of parents in whatever feeding method they choose, study author Professor Emily Oster points out “that these numbers should be 100% for everyone! We should all be proud of how we feed our children. The fact that they are not 100% for any group tells us that we have work to do to ensure that all parents feel support, trust, and are happy with the choices they make,” Oster added.

The study also highlights how feeding plans and expectations are often wrong. Among expectant parents, 98 percent said they had a plan for feeding, with 25 percent planning to breastfeed exclusively, 55 percent planning to breastfeed and pump and 11 percent planning to combine breastfeeding, pumping and formula.

But despite 80 percent of mothers wanting to exclusively breastfeed their babies for at least a year, research shows that only 25 percent make it to 6 months on breast milk alone. Seventy-four percent ended up using formula, with 87 percent using a combination of breastfeeding, pumping, and formula. Overall, only 41 percent of parents said they met their breastfeeding goals.

While there’s nothing wrong with embracing pumping and formula, the gap between expectations and reality can cause grief for mothers who feel like they’re letting themselves or their baby down by failing to meet their expectations. purpose. Oster suggests that more parents can feel empowered in their breastfeeding journey, and maintain their goals for longer, if they remain open to the possibility of combination feeding.

“Combo feeding (some combination of breast milk and formula) extends most parents’ breastfeeding journeys (for those who rely on it as a feeding option). It’s a stark reminder that when it comes to feeding, it’s not either/or, but a spectrum of options,” she notes.

Finally, the State of Feeding report identifies the support parents are receiving or, more often, not receiving to make their feeding journey more feasible. Increasing efforts to improve breastfeeding support in hospitals and beyond have led to 82 percent of parents reporting receiving support during their breastfeeding journey. But now, other forms of support are dwindling. Almost half of parents – 47 percent – reported no support or education around formula feeding, and 38 percent received no support with pumping.

“It’s clear that parents need more support and education across the board when it comes to feeding,” Oster said. “We’ve all experienced systems that are broken – we must create a societal infrastructure that will meaningfully support parents on their feeding journey, regardless of their method.”

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