The Top Ten Breastfeeding Stories of 2012

Breastfeeding made the news quite a bit in 2012.  And this year also saw a number of advances in support for breastfeeding moms.  Here is our round up of the year's highlights!

Federal pumping law upheld.  The Affordable Health Care Act contained some important advances for nursing moms, and these were in jeopardy due to court challenges to the law.  The Supreme Court upheld the law this summer, letting stand the requirements that many employers accommodate nursing moms wishing to pump at work.  The law was also the basis of the mandate that insurance companies cover, at no charge, breastfeeding support and pump rentals, starting in August of this year.

Time Magazine features a 3-year-old breastfeeding on its cover.  Setting off a furious debate, Time Magazine featured a photo of California mom Jamie Lynne Grumet nursing her 3-year-old son Aram as part of its story on attachment parenting.  For more on extended (or "long term," or "full term") breastfeeding, see our podcast interview with the author of Breastfeeding Older Children.

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) adopts stronger breastfeeding policy.  Calling it a matter of public health, not a lifestyle choice, the AAP published its revised breastfeeding policy.  Among the highlights:  exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for 6 months (not 4-6 months as previously written), the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding (the foundation of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative) are endorsed, and the WHO growth charts are promoted.

Photos soldiers breastfeeding in uniform highlight challenges of military moms.  While photos of two mothers nursing in Air Force uniforms was deemed inappropriate conduct by the military, they succeeded in raising awareness of military mothers' breastfeeding challenges.  One of the mothers explained:  "I'm proud to be wearing a uniform while breastfeeding. I'm proud of the photo and I hope it encourages other women to know they can breastfeed whether they're active duty, guard or civilian."  For more on this topic, see our podcast interview with the author of Breastfeeding in Combat Boots!

Breastfeeding rates have largest jump in a decade.  The CDC reported this year that rates of breastfeeding initiation and breastfeeding at 6 and 12 months rose by about 2 percent.  Breastfeeding initiation increased from 74.6% in 2008 to 76.9% in 2009 births, representing the largest annual increase over the previous decade.

Beyonce breastfeeds baby Blue, and breastfeeding has its first celebrity event.  Beyonce won the hearts of nursing mothers everywhere when she breastfed in public and encouraged other moms to do it.  Breastfeeding had its first celebrity event promoting breastfeeding and toxin-free living this spring, with hosts Kelly Preston, Laila Ali, and Jenna Elfman.  See our 2012 celebrity round-up for more!

Baby Friendly hospitals on the rise According to the CDC, the number of Baby Friendly Hospitals in the U.S. tripled, and thanks to a CDC grant program, and many other initiatives ranging from Mayor Bloomberg's in New York City to Kaiser Permanente's in California, there are many, many hospitals in the Baby Friendly queue.

Facebook continues to ban breastfeeding photos.  The latest issue in the long standing problem of Facebook deleting breastfeeding pictures belonged to The Feminist Breeder, whose account was suspended when she posted a picture of her daughter taking a break from nursing and swiping a piece of bacon from her plate.  It violated no Facebook standards, and her account was later reinstated, but it highlighted this problem once again.  For more on this issue see our podcast interview on Facebook vs. The Leaky Boob!

Joint Commission to hold large hospitals accountable for exclusive breastfeeding rates.  Here's a late breaking piece of good news: the Joint Commission will soon be requiring large hospitals to report on their exclusive breastfeeding rates.  Not sure why that's a big deal?  Check out this post!

California passes first breastfeeding employment discrimination law. In September, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 2386 (Allen) which prohibits discrimination in employment and housing on the basis of breastfeeding or conditions related to it (pumping at work, for example).  For more on this complex subject see our podcast interview on the topic