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WASHINGTON — Most U.S. moms are concerned about breastfeeding in public even though they understand that breastfeeding is the best way to feed their babies, according to the 2012 Lansinoh Breastfeeding Study released Thursday.
“Breastfeeding in public became one of the hottest publicly debated topics in 2012," stated Gina Ciagne, senior director, professional relations at Lansinoh. "We were interested to find out how that affected moms’ decisions to breastfeed.”
According to the survey, 79% of moms know breastfeeding is the best choice for a healthy baby and 40% list their greatest concern as breastfeeding in public. Other top concerns include pain (28%), that they wouldn't be able to breastfeed long enough (28%) or that the baby wouldn't latch (25%).
Nearly one-third of moms surveyed stated that women who breastfeed in public are attention-seeking or that it is embarrassing or even wrong. Moms aged 18-25 are the least likely to worry about breastfeeding in public (33%), but have more concerns than older moms about the potential pain (55%) and the baby not latching on correctly (49%).
Older moms have greater concerns about breastfeeding in public, with women in the 36-45 and the 46-and-older age groups citing it as their biggest qualm about breastfeeding (42% and 41%, respectively).
Where moms live in the U.S. also seems to impact their level of concern about breastfeeding in public, with Midwestern moms having the highest concerns.
Midwestern moms feel the most uncomfortable with the concept of breastfeeding in public (43%); have the highest positive perception about infant formula, viewing it as a good alternative to breast milk (83%); and don't think that breastfeeding is the best option for their babies (25%).
As many as 39% of Southern moms communicated concerns about breastfeeding in public. And slightly more than half of those who do choose to breastfeed do so because of the health benefits to babies. However, Southern moms include the second-highest number of moms who are afraid breastfeeding would hurt (30%), with East Coast moms being slightly more afraid of potential pain (31%).
East Coast moms rate least likely to think breastfeeding in public is perfectly natural, at 41%, but 25% say that it is unavoidable. Also, East Coast women rate least likely to believe a baby should be breastfed for 12 months, at 23%.
Meanwhile, West Coast women are the most likely to believe that breastfeeding in public is perfectly natural (51%) and have the highest rate in the nation for feeling positively supported by their health care providers regarding breastfeeding issues (50%). They also top the chart across the nation for believing breastfeeding is the best way to feed a baby (84%).
“This survey gave us a deeper understanding of how moms’ feeding decisions seem to be influenced (or impacted) by what region of the country they live [in],” Ciagne said. “Lansinoh and other breastfeeding advocates still have a lot of work to do, especially to reach and teach moms in areas of the country where moms have identified the negative perceptions and barriers to breastfeeding success, namely in regard to feeding in public. It is important for people to understand that breastfeeding is the best preventive medicine for children, as it provides health benefits for moms and babies that last a lifetime, but it is also important for moms to know how to do it practically and to feel comfortable doing it.”
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