Breastfeeding - The Challenges

“Many mothers in the United States want to breastfeed, and most try. And yet within only three months after giving birth, more than two-thirds of breastfeeding mothers have already begun using formula. By six months postpartum, more than half of mothers have given up on breastfeeding, and mothers who breastfeed one-year olds or toddlers are a rarity in our society.”
Regina M. Benjamin, MD, MBA, U.S. Surgeon General


Human milk provides optimal nutrition for the first six months of life for most infants. Though most women are aware of this and the many other benefits of breastfeeding, most stop breastfeeding before their child turns six months old. Women face many challenges with continuing to breastfeed, both while home with their babies in the early postpartum weeks, and once they return to work.


A quick look at breastfeeding facts in Wisconsin:

  • 83% of Wisconsin women initiate breastfeeding
  • At 6 months, only 56% of women are still breastfeeding
  • At 12 months, that number drops to 22%

Large disparities in breastfeeding rates exist between White and Black/African Americans in both initiation and duration:

  • Initiation rates for White infants are at approximately 85%
  • For Black/African American infants, initiation rates are closer to 67%.


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General; 2011

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