Whether you’re planning to, trying to, or nursing your baby as you read this, we can all agree on one thing: Breastfeeding exclusively for six months—as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)—is invaluable for the health of you and your baby.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stats from 2016, about 81 percent of new moms agree and start out breastfeeding their babies. But, by the six-month mark, only 52 percent are still nursing exclusively.
What’s going on? According to a study, there’s a mismatch between a new mom’s expectations and the realities of day-to-day life. When a mom’s weariness, discomfort, and anxiety increase, her happiness—as well as that of her family—supersedes the goal of exclusive breastfeeding. “Women introduce formula or stop breastfeeding in an attempt to improve the situation, and this can lead to feelings of failure and guilt,” says Pat Hoddinott, Ph.D., lead author of the study and chairwoman of primary care at the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health at the University of Stirling in Scotland.