NPR

Secrets Of Breast-Feeding From Global Moms In The Know

Many American women want to breast-feed. And try to. But only about half keep it up. It's like they've lost the instinct. One researcher thinks she's figured out why. And how to get the instinct back.
Left to right: mothers from Namibia's Himba tribe; from Amber, India; and from Washington state. / sarahwolfephotography / Getty Images

In many ways, parenting newborns seems instinctual.

We see a little baby, and we want to hold her. Snuggle and kiss her. Even just her smell seems magical.

Many of us think breast-feeding is similar.

"I had that idea before my first child was born," says Brooke Scelza, an evolutionary anthropologist at the University of Los Angeles, California. "I definitely thought, 'Oh, I'm going to figure that out. Like how hard can it be?' "

Although breast-feeding is easy for some women, for many new moms — including Scelza — it's a struggle. "I was shocked at how hard it was," she says.

In a survey a few years ago, 92 percent of women said they had problems in the first few days of breast-feeding. They couldn't get the baby to latch onto the nipple. They had pain. Sore nipples. And they were worried they

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