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In 2005, most new mothers in Washington said they began breastfeeding their infants at birth, but only 75% of these mothers were still breastfeeding two months later.
Human milk provides the best nutrition for infants and children.(1,2) Breastfed children are healthier, incur fewer health care costs, and are less likely to experience obesity and chronic diseases when they are older.(3,4) If 75 percent of infants were breastfed early in life and 50 percent were still breastfed at six months, as recommended by the U.S. Surgeon General, it would save an estimated $3.6 billion in health care costs.(5) Breastfeeding avoids the financial and environmental costs associated with the manufacture and transportation of formula and disposal of formula containers.
Almost all mothers would breastfeed if they understand how breastfeeding works and are confident that they can provide the milk their baby needs. Early breastfeeding experiences are very important. When babies nurse frequently, mothers will produce enough milk. The key components of breastfeeding success recommended by national professional health organizations are as follows.(1,2,3,4)