Poll: Women not breastfeeding because of embarrassment?

A recent breastfeeding poll conducted by Fertility Flower returned interesting statistics about how many women breastfeed their babies as well as womens’ attitudes toward breastfeeding. Keep reading to learn more.

Breastfeeding baby

Fertility Flower, a new website created to help women identify the best time to conceive or prevent pregnancy naturally, conducted a poll to learn about attitudes toward breastfeeding and the reasons women choose to breastfeed — or not to breastfeed.

The statistics

3,102 American moms were asked whether they breastfed and why they made the decision to either breastfeed or not to breastfeed. 71 percent of respondents breastfed their babies. Additionally, another 8 percent attempted to breastfeed their babies, but “gave up” because it was too difficult.

Reasons for breastfeeding

  • Breastfeeding for weight loss. According to the Fertility Flower poll, of the 71 percent of women who breastfed, 21 percent said they breastfed to lose pregnancy weight.
  • Breastfeeding for cost. 16 percent of the respondents who breastfed did so to save money.
  • Breastfeeding for bonding. 68 percent of the women who breastfed chose to breastfeed because breastfeeding offered them a bonding opportunity with their baby.
  • Social pressure. 4 percent of the respondents said that they breastfed their babies because they felt pressure to breastfeed — by a family member, partner or midwife.

Reasons for formula feeding

Only 16 percent of the women surveyed didn’t breastfeed or didn’t attempt to breastfeed. Women cited a handful of reasons for choosing not to breastfeed and instead formula feed.

  • Vanity. Almost a third of the 16 percent who didn’t breastfeed stated that they “were concerned about the effect it could have on their breasts.”
  • Pain. Not very many — only 7 percent — said they didn’t breastfeed because they feared it would be painful.
  • Potential embarrassment. Fifteen percent of women who chose not to breastfeed noted that potential embarrassment about breastfeeding in public places was one of their reasons.

>>Tackling the issue — Breastfeeding in public: Taboo or not?


Kimberly Ann Racic is the founder of Fertility Flower. Regarding the research, she noted, “Breast milk is the perfect food for babies. Therefore the decision to breastfeed or not shouldn’t be taken lightly. However, I don’t think anyone should be shamed into breastfeeding when they don’t want to.”

She makes excellent points. There is a lot of pressure on moms to do everything “right” and women need to do what they feel is best for themselves and their babies. No woman should be shamed into breastfeeding, cosleeping or any other similar parenting decision, nor should any woman feel guilt for bottle feeding.

However, when a woman’s reason for choosing not to breastfeed is potential embarrassment of breastfeeding in public, we should support and encourage her to breastfeed if she otherwise wants to breastfeed. Whether helping her to find a way to be more discreet or to overcome the fear of embarrassment altogether is the answer, embarrassment should not be a reason not to formula feed. It’s entirely possible to breastfeed in public. Because breastfeeding is best for baby, embarrassment shouldn’t hold a mother back.

Furthermore, women should know all of the benefits to breastfeeding, which are many. For example, recent research shows that breastfeeding moms get more sleep at night.

>>Look at our suggestions for best clothes for breastfeeding moms

Racic further stated, “If mothers are feeling unsure as to what is best for them and are struggling to reach a decision, I would suggest that they do some research online and talk to other mothers candidly about their fears. They are likely to get a realistic picture of what breastfeeding is like. After that, they’ll be able to make the decision to breastfeed or not based on real information rather than perception.”

>>See our Real Mom’s Guide and read about one mom’s decision-making process: To Breastfeed or not to breastfeed

As with any parenting decision, education is most definitely important. Talking to other moms, professionals such as lactation consultants and reading might help. If you’re an expectant or new mom, reach out to those around you. If you are interested in breastfeeding but are having trouble, seek support.

>>Attempting to breastfeed and need tips? Here’s how to get baby to latch on.

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