This month, we are focusing on all things related to breastfeeding! This week, let’s take a look at how breastfeeding is perceived in various countries around the world. In most countries, there are some stigmas surrounding breastfeeding, especially breastfeeding in public. Some people think that mamas should be able to breastfeed wherever they want to, while some think it should only be done in private. Whichever is your preference, we all have one thing in common–doing what is best for baby! Refer to the graphic to see where different countries lie in various aspects of breastfeeding.
Let’s go on a little breastfeeding world tour! We’ll be looking at different countries around the globe, and how these nations’ cultural norms affect breastfeeding trends.
- The United States has seen a steady increase in breastfeeding rates in recent years, but the problem lies in getting mothers to nurse longer. In 2015, the CDC report found that 81% of American mothers breastfeed at birth. 51% of mothers make it past the 6 month mark, and only 30% keep it up until the recommended 1 year mark.
- In Mongolia, mothers are encouraged to breastfeed as long as they can, even into the toddler years. More than 50% of mothers breastfeed beyond two years.
- The United Kingdom has a 52 week maternity leave, and 39 of those weeks are paid. Though maternity leave can be encouraging for mothers to breastfeed, the UK has one of the lowest rates in the world! Only 1 in 200 women breastfeed their children until they are a year old. While 81% of women do start breastfeeding, only 34% are still breastfeeding by six months. Experts say this could be because of the strong social pressures on new mothers to “get their lives back” quickly after having baby.
- In Iran, like many other Muslim countries, breastfeeding is considered to be a mother’s duty. They specify that babies should be breastfed by their mothers or wet nurses for two years, and infant formula is only available there by prescription. 90% of infants are breastfed at birth in Iran, and 57% are still breastfed past one year.
- Japan encourages mothers to breastfeed, which has resulted in a high initiation rate of 90% this past year. Many Asian countries generally have lower nursing rates, making Japan unique in this aspect. There is a lot of pressure from the older generation for mothers to supplement with formula, so the majority of mothers do a hybrid breast milk and formula routine by the time babies are 3 months old. It is also rare to see Japanese women nursing in public, but many establishments have nursing rooms for privacy.
What has been your experience with breastfeeding? If you have been or currently are a breastfeeding mama who has traveled to different countries, please share your experience with us below!