Only five states (Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and West Virginia) had lower rates of mothers who have ever breastfed.
Fewer mothers in Kentucky are giving their children valuable nutrients through breastfeeding, according to the latest data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Immunization Surveys and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Data reported measured children born in 2019.
According to the data released in August 2022, 74.7% of Kentucky mothers have breastfed at some point, a decrease from 79.1% in the CDC’s previous figures, released in 2021. Six months after giving birth, 49.3% of Kentucky moms are still breastfeeding, which is unchanged from the previous report.
Kentucky still lags behind most states
Only five states (Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and West Virginia) had lower rates of mothers who have ever breastfed. At 74.7%, Kentucky’s breastfeeding rate is well behind the national average of 83.3%. The study looked at all 50 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
“It is a little disappointing that we are seeing fewer mothers initiate breastfeeding. We need to continue to educate the whole community on the benefits of breastfeeding and the risks of formula feeding. We need to reinforce that breastfeeding is the biological norm,” said Elizabeth M. Doyle, M.D., director of lactation services for Norton Healthcare. “Unfortunately, our society does not do a lot to support new mothers, at home and in the workplace. We need to strengthen the support around our pregnant and new mothers to allow them the time and resources to be able to breastfeed.”
Why do mothers stop breastfeeding early?
According to the CDC, 60% of mothers do not breastfeed for as long as they intend. Many factors can influence the duration of breastfeeding, including:
- Issues with lactation and latching
- Mother’s concern about taking medications while breastfeeding
- Unsupportive work policies and lack of parental leave
- Cultural norms and lack of family support
- Concerns about infant nutrition and weight
- Unsupportive hospital practices and policies
Breastfeeding support when mothers need it
Norton Healthcare provides multiple resources to help breastfeeding mothers.
Lactation consultants are on hand when babies are born in a Norton Healthcare hospital. Our lactation center, the Baby Bistro & Boutique on the Norton Healthcare – St. Matthews campus that includes Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital, offers appointments with certified lactation consultants plus breastfeeding supplies and breast pumps.
Refer a patient
To refer a patient to Norton Women’s Care visit Norton EpicLink and choose EpicLink referral to Lactation.
Why is it important to breastfeed?
Studies show that breastfeeding has numerous health benefits for mother and baby. Breastfeeding can reduce ear infections, pneumonia, diarrhea/vomiting and sudden infant death syndrome. It also decreases a mother’s risk of breast and ovarian cancers, as well as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
Studies have shown that breastfeeding in the first hour of life is crucial for baby, providing health benefits for the days, weeks and months to come. The first milk, colostrum, is full of antibodies that can strengthen a newborn’s immune system. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies breastfeed for at least one year.
“It’s incredibly important that we do everything we can to support mothers who wish to breastfeed,” Dr. Doyle said. “That means providing any assistance they may need, whether it’s simple words of encouragement, professional advice from a lactation consultant or even time to pump while at work.”