Baby is 6 months old today. I still haven't started her on any solids because I'm lazy. Well, and I want to finish out the breastfeeding study with exclusive breastfeeding (it's not required after 3 months to stay in the study, but it's still good to have goals).
But mostly I'm lazy. Because I don't have to worry about remembering food when it's physically within my body. The pediatrician* said to start her on solids anytime between 4 and 8 months, but also noted that 6 months was average and that he believes Americans jump the gun on starting solids in general. She's gaining weight appropriately and my supply seems to be adequate...though damn...I would LOVE to have a bit more freedom at some point here.
I looked up some breastfeeding statistics
from the CDC for funzies. Only 23.5% of Minnesotan babies are exclusively breastfed to 6 months. It's one of the higher states (the highest is California with 27.4%). The lowest three are Tennessee (4.1%), Mississippi (5.1%), and Georgia (6.2%). Anything below 10% is a deep-south state. Arkansas, West Virginia. And, unsurprisingly, most of those with the lowest rates of EBF at 6 months had some of the lowest rates of breastfeeding initially (only 50.5% in Mississippi).
I don't know why the rates vary. One can speculate. The CDC explores hospital education, in-rooming, and lactation consultants. It could be many broader factors. Community support and perception, lack of maternity leave...but socioeconomic status and education seem to correlate fairly strongly with a breastfeeding gradient. If you're in poverty and not educated (which are, themselves, correlated) you're less likely to breastfeed. Conversely, if you're more educated and of a higher socioeconomic status (correlated), you're more likely to breastfeed. A job that allows you to take paid maternity leave or that allows you to pump at work is going to make you more likely to continue breastfeeding, I would speculate.
Down my quick little pump-time research hole there were a bunch of sensationalist articles: "Could breastfeeding be the way out of poverty!?" Which...um... Breastfeeding your kids doesn't lift them out of poverty. Or, at least, none of the studies point to causation that way. Being out of poverty enables you, somehow (through education, support, work circumstances, community acceptance, or other) to breastfeed your kid. And if you're already out of poverty your kid is more likely to be out of poverty whether or not they are breastfed. Again, unsurprisingly, because being black in the south (or anywhere, really) is correlated with higher rates of poverty and lower rates of education, it also correlates with lower rates of breastfeeding.
So many things in the system seem intertwined. Poverty. Education. Race. It's all a tangle.
Of course, if you don't breastfeed your kid it's all going to be fine. So long as one feeds them some nutritional supplementation in some way. Starvation and malnutrition are not recommended. Formula is great. Breastfeeding is great.
I breastfed exclusively to 6 months and I'm happy about it not because I believe it makes me superior or anything--but because I wanted to see if I could do it, had a goal to do it, and did it. I find it pretty cool that I kept a little human alive for 6 months just off of stuff my body could produce.
*Did I ever mention that the pediatrician is totally hot? It's incidental to anything--he's a great doctor--but it's still pleasant to be around people who are attractive (to you). Sort of like it's nice to look at a pretty garden full of flowers vs. just a plain yard. It doesn't add anything, really, but it's aesthetically pleasing.