Mums are breastfeeding for longer (are you sure?)

The national breastfeeding survey by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) has revealed that although more new mothers are attempting to breastfeed their babies, after one week less than half of all new mothers are still exclusively breastfeeding.

The Infant Feeding Survey which was taken in 2010 released a list of breastfeeding statistics in its summary report.

The survey shows that 81 per cent of UK mothers initially breastfed in 2010 (an increase from 76 per cent in 2005). In terms of ‘breasfeeding exclusively’ the UK survey results show

  • 69% of mothers were exclusively breastfeeding at birth
  • at one week this had fallen to 46% and by six weeks the figure was 23%
  • and only one in every 100 manage the full recommended six months.

The survey also found that three-quarters of mothers want to breastfeed and more than four in five say they are aware of the health benefits.

Room for improvement

Louise Silverton, the Royal College of Midwives’ director for midwifery told the Independent that she welcomed the rise but warned that there was still room for improvement in breastfeeding among groups with traditionally lower breastfeeding rates and those who tend to breastfeed for shorter durations.

She said:

“There needs to be a sea change in public attitudes towards breastfeeding in public places and more need to be done to increase the visibility of breastfeeding and its acceptability in public.  We are concerned that due to staff shortages women may not be getting the postnatal support they need from midwives whilst they establish breastfeeding in the early days after birth, due to a lack of time and resources for midwives to spend with women.”

The latest figures also show that fewer women are smoking and drinking alcohol during pregnancy and more are taking recommended supplements – folic acid and vitamin D.

Does the pressure to breastfeed ‘exclusively’ put mums off?

The BBC ran with the ‘must do better’ headline, ‘More mums opt to breastfeed but few stick at it’ . The Indepedent was more positive ‘Mothers breastfeeding babies for longer with one in three still breastfeeding at six months’.

What is the most important factor here;

  • Only 1 in 100 are breastfeeding exclusively at six months (unchanged from 2005),
  • Or 1 in 3 are still breastfeeding in some form at six months?

Tell us what you think in the comments below?

Source:  NHS , BBC & The Independent, 20 November 2012

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