Breastfeeding Rates Are Up -- but They Vary Widely from State to State

New stats released by the CDC reveal that 3 out of 4 brand-new moms breastfeed their babies. This is great news, seeing how that number meets the government's Health People 2010 goals. The bad news? The rate of moms who are still breastfeeding after 6 months (43%) and 12 months (22%) isn't up to snuff.

Why exactly? Well, it's interesting to note that the numbers vary widely by state. For example, nearly 88 percent of new moms breastfed at birth in Washington state, where I live, but just 53 percent did in West Virginia. Experts say income and education levels are factors in the disparity, but it's also  because of the resources available in different parts of the country, as well as cultural acceptance -- and encouragement -- of nursing.

I've found that there's openness about breastfeeding in my home state -- and I definitely think that helps. The day I gave birth to my son, a volunteer from La Leche League came to my hospital birthing room and showed me how to nurse him properly. Here, people don’t stare -- or even blink -- if a mom discreetly pulls down her shirt to start feeding in public. I even see “Breastfeeding Friendly” signs at some local coffee shops.

In contrast, states with lower rates cite laws prohibiting breastfeeding in public, a lack of pumping rooms at work and really short maternity leaves, among other reasons. Hopefully, armed with these new statistics, officials can make these states more friendly to moms who do want to keep nursing.

Wondering what the stats are in your state? Here’s a chart.

How long do you think moms should breastfeed? Chime in below!

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