There are so many interesting and cool facts about breastfeeding! Some statistics you might know, while some may be completely new to you. Keep reading to learn the top 100+ facts about breastfeeding!
What do you know about breastfeeding?
You might know a couple of facts but did you know there is SO much to learn and know? We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of interesting breastfeeding and breast milk facts and statistics. These are the top facts out there- all in one place.
So settle in, and learn something new!
Breastfeeding Rate Statistics
It’s very interesting to look at breastfeeding rates around the world. Here are a few key statistics:
- Worldwide, 3 in 5 babies are not breastfed in the first hour after birth
- 820,000 children could be saved annually with better breastfeeding rates for months 0-23
- Only 41% of infants under six months are exclusively breastfed worldwide
- The World Health Organization has set a goal to reach 50% by 2025.
- In high income countries, more than 1 in 5 babies have never breastfed
- In low and medium income countries, nearly all babies are breastfed
Countries With Highest Breastfeeding Rates
These are in reference to exclusive breastfeeding an infant younger than six months
- Croatia with a a 98% rate
- Rwanda with 86% with
- Chile – 84%
- Burundi with 82%
- Sri Lanka – 82%
Countries With Lowest Breastfeeding Rates
These are in reference to exclusive breastfeeding an infant younger than six months
- Chad – .11%
- Suriname – 2.77%
- St. Lucia – 3.50%
- Domincan Republic – 4.56%
- Gabon – 5.08%
United States Breastfeeding Rates
- Nationwide, 74% of babies in the United States have EVER been breastfed
- 58% of babies are breastfed (any amount) at six months – only 25.6% are exclusively breastfed through six months
- 35.3% are still breastfeeding at the age of one
- Oregon has the highest percentage (93.5%) of babies who are ever breastfed
- Mississippi has the lowest percentage (63.4%) of babies who are ever breastfed
United Kingdom Breastfeeding Rates
I could highlight many different regions in the world, but I am frequently contacted by moms in the United Kingdom about how poor the lactation support is there. I thought it was interesting to look at these rates.
- In the United Kingdom, 81% of women begin breastfeeding.
- By six weeks, the rate drops of exclusive breastfeeding drops to 24% in England, 17% in the Wales, and 13% in Northern Ireland
- By six months, the rate of exclusive breastfeeding is 1%
- The rate of any breastfeeding in the UK at six months is 34%
- The proportion of infants receiving breast milk has remained about the same through the COVID-19 pandemic
Breast Milk Statistics/Facts
- Breast milk is a living substance that contains live cells, including stem cells
- Breast milk is approximately 87% water, 1% protein, 4% fat, and 7% carbohydrate
- You can use breast milk to replace cow’s milk in recipes once your baby starts to eat solids
- Moms of preemies have breast milk with more protein, fat, and other minerals for bone and brain growth
- Breast milk is not always white.
- The smell and taste of your breastmilk can change depending on the foods you eat.
- Your breastmilk changes as the needs of your baby changes.
- The amount of breastmilk you produce has nothing to do with breast size.
- Preemie babies who are fed breastmilk in their first 28 days of life have better brain development by the time they reach their original due date.
- Colostrum is the first milk that your breasts produce
- Breastmilk has antibodies that help your baby fight against infection
- Breastmilk contains hormones such as melatonin, Leptin, Endorphins, Oxytocin, and Thyroxine
- Higher perception of breast milk is positively linked to exclusive breastfeeding
- Skin-to-skin and breastfeeding self-efficacy are two indicators of exlcusive breastfeeding
- Drops of breastmilk can be used to help treat cuts, soothe diaper rash, or even help infants with eye and ear infections because of their antibodies.
- Oxytocin and prolactin hormones are hormones released during breastfeeding that encouraging mothers to bond with their babies
- 1/3 of women can’t feel when their milk lets down
- When colostrum is expressed during hour one after giving birth, it increased production by 130% by six weeks.
- Breastmilk makes babies sleepy, this is because by the end of the day, breastmilk contains more serotonin—a hormone that helps babies sleep.
- Producing breast milk consumes 25% of the body’s energy; the brain only uses 20% by comparison
- Almost 75% of all moms produce more milk in their right breast, whether they are right- or left- handed
- You don’t have to drink milk, to produce milk
- Producing breast milk consumes 25% of the body’s energy; the brain only uses 20% by comparison.
- There is an average of 15-20 lobes in a successfully lactating breast
- While there has only been a few studies done, it’s estimated between 10 and 15% of women struggle with low milk supply
- 60% of mothers in the USA don’t breastfeed for as long as they had planned
- 70.5% of mothers who did not graduate from high school ever breastfed their babies
- 93,4% of mothers who graduated from college ever breastfeed their babies while 73.9% breastfeed for at least 6 months.
Breastfeeding Problems Facts/Statistics
Early Breastfeeding Problems
The following statistics are from a study conducted by UC Davis.
- 92% of mothers report breastfeeding problems by day three. Of those concerns:
- 52% were concerning baby struggling to breastfeed at the breast
- 44% reported pain
- 40% were concerned about their milk supply
- Infant feeding difficulty and milk quantity are the top reasons for stopping breastfeeding prematurely.
- Between 4-10% of babies are born with tongue-tie, which makes it difficult to latch. They are three times more likely to be bottle fed at one week.
- In one study that focused on breastfeeding pain…
- 57% of issues related to pain were resolved in about 18 days
- Nipple pain was the reason for 36% of cases
- The most common reason for nipple pain was incorrect positioning and attachment
- The next most common reasons (in order) were tongue tie, infection, palatal anamoly, flat/inverted nipples, mastitis, and vasospasms
- 77% of breastfeeding/pumping moms get outside help from lactation consultants
- Many breast pumps are free through insurance
- Breastfeeding in addition to pumping can help increase your milk supply
- Breast pumps from years ago used to resemble turkey basters
- Hand expressing is one way to express milk if your breast feel exceptionally full
- 85% of women use a pump at least some of the time
- Breastfeeding burns between 500-600 calories a day
- Breastfeeding lowers your baby’s risk of illnesses, including ear infections, respiratory infections, gastroenteritis, and Necrotizing Enterocolitis
- The amount of breast milk you are able to produce has nothing to do with your breast size but the capacity.
- Mothers who breastfeed have a lower risk of having postpartum depression
- Mothers who breastfeed have a lower risk of developing heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes
- The longer a woman breastfeeds in her lifetime, the more protection she receives from certain ailments and diseases.
- 1/3 of women make the decision to breastfeed during pregnancy
- Breastfeeding lowers your child’s risk of common ailments.
- Breastfeeding can help to shrink the uterus back to its pre-pregnancy size.
- Babies in urban areas are more likely to be breastfed than those in rural areas.
- In the U.S. mothers who are over age 30 are more likely to breastfeed (86.3%) than mothers aged 20-29
- A lactating mother can leak milk when she thinks about her baby or if she hears another baby cry.
- Social media has been linked to increased breastfeeding rates
- In the U.S., mothers who are over age 30 are more likely to ever breastfeed (86.3%) than mothers aged 20-29 (80%)
- When breastfeeding women may have decreased cycles of ovulation
- Babies breastfeed until their full, not when the breast is empty
- Breastmilk sprays out of many holes, not just one.
- Breastfeeding parents are less likely to be diagnosed with post partum depression
- Many women tend to eat more nutritious foods and follow healthier lifestyles (limit smoking and alcohol use) while breastfeeding
- Breastfeeding saves a family approximately $2 to 4 thousand dollars annually (compared to cost of formula)
- Breastfed infants are at lower risk for sudden infant death syndrome
- Women with PCOS appear to have lower breastfeeding initation rates
Cancer and Breastfeeding Facts
- Mothers who breastfeed have a lower risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
- For every year that a mother breastfeeds, her risk of breast cancer is reduced by 6%
- Breastfeeding while undergoing breast cancer treatments is not recommended because therapies used to treat breast cancer can be passed on to the nursing baby through breastmilk.
- It is generally okay to get a mammogram while breastfeeding.
- Women can develop breast cancer at any time – including while breastfeeding or pumping – however, there is no known increase in risk during that time
- Breastfeeding a baby girl actually reduces her lifetime risk of breast cancer by 25%
Breastfeeding and Work Statistics
- 49% of employers in the U.S. currently provide an on-site lactation/mother’s room.
- 78.9% of mothers breastfeeding when they returned to work attempting to pump
- The median time for expressing milk at work is 6.3 months, with an average infant age of about 9 months when mom stopped pumping
- 10% of mothers working full-time still breastfed their babies at six months.
- Significant predictors of continued breastfeding past six months for working moms were higher education level, lower work load, a dedicated lactation room, breast pumping breaks, and encouragement from co-workers and supervisors.
- Black women are more likely to return to work earlier
- In one study that focused on partner support with breastfeeding when a mom returned to work, it found:
- 60.2% of partners initally supported breastfeeding
- 86.7% were willing to share household responsibilities
- 55.4% of employed moms had partners that encouraged them to use a lactation room at work
- 81.9% of partners encouraged them to take pumping breaks
- 85.2% of mothers felt that partner support would increase breastfeeding
Helpful resource for breastfeeding and working moms: The Ultimate Guide to Breastfeeding as a Working Mom: Tips, Schedules and More
- Exclusive breastfeeding (% of children under 6 months) – Country Ranking
- Human Milk Composition: Nutrients and Bioactive Factors
- Impact of a Breastfeeding-Friendly Workplace on an Employed Mother’s Intention to Continue Breastfeeding After Returning to Work
- Association of Timing of Initiation of Breastmilk Expression on Milk Volume and Timing of Lactogenesis Stage II Among Mothers of Very Low-Birth-Weight Infants
- 14 Fascinating Facts About Breastfeeding
- Hidden Communities of Practice in Social Media Groups: Mixed Methods Study
- Breastfeeding – WHO
- How to Deal with Low Breastmilk Supply
- The countries where 1 in 5 children are never breastfed
- CDC Breastfeeding Report Card – 2018
- Health Foundations 15 Facts About Breastfeeding
- Breastfeeding in polycystic ovary syndrome
- Newborn tongue-tie: prevalence and effect on breast-feeding
- Maternal perceptions of partner support during breastfeeding
- Working mothers are still trying to make the breast of it
- Duration of breast milk expression among working mothers enrolled in an employer-sponsored lactation program
- Find out about breastfeeding rates in the UK and our work to improve them.
- The relationship between perceived milk supply and exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months postpartum: a cross-sectional study
- Nipple Pain in Breastfeeding Mothers: Incidence, Causes and Treatments
- Influence of Partner Support on an Employed Mother’s Intention to Breastfeed After Returning to Work
More Posts You Might Enjoy:
- 11 Low Milk Supply False Alarms
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- High Lipase Breast Milk: Why Your Breast Milk Tastes Gross (and What You Can Do)
- 20+ Breastfeeding Tips for Producing More Breast Milk
Katie Clark is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). She has helped thousands of mothers and families around the globe navigate breastfeeding challenges and questions since 2015. She has a passion for creating research-based, helpful breastfeeding education and helping parents find a way to make breastfeeding work for them. Katie is a mom of three little boys and lives in the great state of Colorado. She also has a degree in Communications with an emphasis in print journalism.