When I was a breastfeeding, I didn't know many women who nursed. There were several online communities available to seek guidance, advice and camaraderie, but in real life - when I needed assistance or even a good old dose of commiseration and outrage on my behalf, I found that most women were uninterested. Even the ones who had nursed their babies in the past.
I had decided, therefore, that my days as a breastfeeding advocate would not be limited to the days that breastfed my children. I know that when we wean, it sometimes feels that it's not our battle anymore. I have indeed found myself in situations, vehemently arguing (over the internet) about the rights of breastfeeding mothers, and when I mention that I am not currently lactating, my argument seems to lose validity and I am left in the lurch as the person I am arguing with smugly stalks away.
I continue to argue and to stand up for nursing rights, however. Why? Because one day, I may have a daughter who breastfeeds. Or my nieces. Perhaps one day I will nurse again. Perhaps not. But my friends do. And my sisters and cousins. And so do many, many women who I do not know, but should not have to stand up alone. As women, we must support each other, even when standing up for things which don't affect us directly in the here and now.
I want to make it clear to women (and men) that we do not have to be a nursing mother to stand up for the rights of others to breastfeed. Even if you have never breastfed. Even if you do not have children yourself. Even if you're not a woman, but a man who supports not only a woman's right to breastfeed, but infants right to nurse and to eat when they are hungry.
Think about this for a minute: It is estimated that in the U.S. less than half of all women who breastfeed their infants are doing so at six months. Demographically, what percentage of Americans are women? What percentage of those women are mothers with children of nursing age? What percentage of women with young children who actually are nursing actually have time to advocate on their behalf - considering that most women who are currently breastfeeding have babies six months old or younger, and are therefore quite busy and likely sleep deprived?
To illustrate how small the percentage of nursing mothers in America is compared to general population, I have drawn up a chart. Following are the links where I derived my information which includes the U.S. Census Bureau and a breakdown of my mathematical logic.
I tried numerous pie chart generators but none of them would allow for a figure that was any smaller than .3% As the real figure of breastfeeding women in America is closer to .2%, this is a much overstated image.
19.1 Children under the age of five
800,000 mothers are current breastfeeders.
U.S. Census does not record specific numbers of children under the age of 5. But if logic would conclude that 1/5 of children who are 5 years old are between 0 and 1 year, the number of infants under 1 year old would be 3.82 million. This is on par with many other web resources that maintain approximately 4 million infants are born each year.Consider that half of those children are 6 months old, and that 40% of them are being breastfed. Taking that as the median, given that the number of children being breastfed from ages newborn up to one year is on a pretty consistent slant, a good estimation of the number of breastfed babies in America (and respectively, the number of breastfeeding mothers) at this point in in time is approximately 800,000.
Understand that is an estimated number.
Therefore the percentage of breastfeeding mothers in the United States in comparison to the entire U.S. population is 0.253968254%. That number is astonishingly small, and illustrates the reason these mothers need support from others when faced with discrimination and infringement on their rights. When you consider that in 2009, over 80% of mothers reportedly breastfed at all, you see a much larger statistic and potential support - if those women were to continue to see breastfeeding rights as a priority.
- women who breastfeed
- women who have breastfed
- women who have had a baby
- women who have (or have had) breasts
- Men or Women who know anybody in this list
If you own a blog or website and you believe women should feel safe and supported to breastfeed their children, you can grab a badge.
Photo Credit for Non-Lactating Breastfeeding Advocate: Not Necessary.