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CDC gives Oklahoma mothers low grade on nursing report card

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Britnee Lesser is a first-time mom to newborn, Samuel.

"It's been the biggest joy and blessing in our lives, but it's also been hard. I mean, he's hungry every couple of hours," she said.

Experts say it is normal for first-time mothers to struggle to find a rhythm when it comes to comforting, cradling and feeding a little one.

Officials say more than 70 percent of mothers in Oklahoma breastfeed their child initially.

However, experts say they are concerned about what happens after that.

A new breastfeeding report card by the Centers for Disease Control shows that many Oklahoma moms are not continuing past six months.

Multiple organizations, including the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics, say women should aim to nurse for at least a year to two years.

The Oklahoma Department of Health hopes the low rates will change in the future.

"Our duration rates are not that great and, of course, that is kind of the trend across the nation because women do face a lot of obstacles when they get back to work or school or even continuing breastfeeding at home because of the social influences that are making it difficult for mom," said Rosanne Smith, WIC breastfeeding coordinator with the Oklahoma Department of Health.

Lesser feels the social anxiety of feeding her son in public.

"I've only been out twice so far, but on the two occasions I've been out, I've tried to time it where I didn't have to do it in public," she said.

The Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC) started a mother-to-mother support group in 20 counties around the state.

"When we do bring the program into those counties, our breastfeeding rates go up. We also see that duration rates in those counties go up because they're providing that support," said Smith.

Smith says the benefits of breastfeeding range from a lower risk of cancer and osteoporosis to overall better health for mom.

For Lesser, the emotional connection is the main pull toward the practice.

"It gives me a great opportunity to bond with him," Lesser said. "I didn't feel like I could replace that with formula."

For more information visit the WIC website.