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Social mores dissuade many women from nursing.

WASHINGTON -- A recent study shows that while most mothers across the United States know that breast-feeding is the best way to ensure that their babies get the proper nutrition, nearly half avoid doing so because of the stigma attached to nursing in public.

According Lansinoh Laboratories Inc.'s "2012 Lansinoh Breastfeeding Study," 79% of new mothers know breastfeeding is the best choice for a healthy baby. However, 40% say their greatest concern is nursing a child in public.

"Breast-feeding in public became one of the hottest publicly debated topics in 2012," Lansinoh senior director of professional relations Gina Ciagne says. "We were interested to find out how that affected moms' decisions to breast-feed.

"As our survey reveals, moms know that breast-feeding is the best thing for their baby, but they fear the reaction they will get if they choose to do so in public," she says.

Nearly one-third of 5,000 mothers surveyed in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Turkey said that women who breast-feed in public are attention seeking or that it is embarrassing or even wrong.

The Lansinoh survey went on to note that women's reluctance to breast-feed was driven by more than just the fear of public embarrassment.

For instance, 28% of those polled felt that they would not be able to breast-feed long enough, 28% were worried that nursing their child would be painful, and a quarter of the women feared that their baby wouldn't latch on.

Women's feelings about breast-feeding vary from region to region, the survey found, with women in the Midwest and South being the most reluctant to nurse their babies in public and women in eastern states being least likely to think breast-feeding in public is perfectly natural.

The highest percentage of women who opt to breast-feed because of the health benefits to babies live on the West Coast.

Age also plays a role in whether a women opts to breast-feed her child.

Lansinoh found that women between 18 and 25 are least likely to worry about breast-feeding in public, but they have more concerns than older moms do about the potential pain and the baby not latching on correctly.

Lansinoh executives say that mothers have to get past these fears for their own well-being and that of their children.

"It is important for people to understand that breast-feeding is the best preventive medicine for children, as it provides health benefits for moms and babies that last a lifetime, but it is also important for moms to know how to do it practically and to feel comfortable doing it," Ciagne says.

Lansinoh notes that of the mothers in the four countries where the survey was done, those in the United States were the most concerned about breast-feeding in public.

The 40% of American mothers who expressed concerns compares with 38% in Britain, 28% in Germany and 11% in Turkey.

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Publication:Chain Drug Review
Date:Apr 8, 2013
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