First Days Maternity Supplies Ltd

The U.K. has a Low Breastfeeding Rate. Why is this?

Breastfeeding rates in the U.K. have been relatively low compared to other countries. According to data from the World Health Organisation (WHO), the U.K. had lower rates of breastfeeding initiation and duration compared to many other countries. In 2021, the UK fell below the global average for breastfeeding rates.

The WHO recommends babies are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their lives.

World Health Organisation

There are many reasons why a woman may not breastfeed. They may not want to or they may not be physically able to, although what is most upsetting is when a woman really wants to feed her baby herself but is unable to. Probably because she simply doesn’t have the right support to help her through the difficult days. Sore nipples, blocked ducts, mastitis, tongue tie, poor milk supply, over supply, colic, the list goes on. Some of the most regularly discussed points around this topic are below:

Lack of Support:

Many women in Britain face challenges and lack support in breastfeeding. This includes limited access to professional lactation support, insufficient guidance and information, and lack of support in public places and workplaces. These factors can make it difficult for women to initiate and continue breastfeeding.

Work and Employment:

Many women in Britain face challenges in balancing work and breastfeeding. The lack of supportive workplace policies, such as inadequate maternity leave, limited breaks for pumping breast milk, and insufficient facilities for feeding or expressing milk, can make it difficult for women to continue breastfeeding when they return to work.

Breastfeeding baby at work
Not every mum is able to breastfeed her baby at work.

Lack of Education and Awareness:

Some women may not receive adequate information about the benefits of breastfeeding (for both mum and baby). How to overcome common challenges, or the importance of early initiation and exclusive breastfeeding. This lack of education and awareness can contribute to lower breastfeeding rates.

Formula Marketing and Availability:

Aggressive marketing and promotion of infant formula have a significant impact on breastfeeding rates. Formula companies often target new mothers with persuasive advertising, leading some women to choose formula feeding instead of breastfeeding. Formula is also readily available in the U.K.: Shops sell a variety of brands and women on low incomes are sometimes offered formula for free. (Whilst we agree that ‘fed is best’ we find it sad that formula can sometimes be offered for free whilst the possibly needed breastfeeding support isn’t always available.)

The NHS Promotes Breastfeeding.

It’s worth noting that efforts have been made in Britain to address these challenges and improve breast-feeding rates. The National Health Service (NHS) and various organisations have implemented campaigns to promote breastfeeding, provide support to new mothers, and raise awareness about its benefits. These initiatives aim to improve breastfeeding rates in the country.

Ask for Help.

If you have any concerns at any point through your feeding journey, it is really important to ask for help. There are many organisations whose staff are feeding experts and really have ‘seen it all’. Many of these staff are volunteers. They are only in their roles as they genuinely want to help you with your journey. It is also important to note, if you’re not satisfied with the help you have received, you can contact someone else. The tiniest piece of advice could make the biggest difference to your whole experience.

Many breastfeeding problems can be resolved very quickly and easily. Ensuring baby is correctly latched – which is easier said than done, should be the first checkpoint. Even experienced breastfeeding mums may need help with their new baby. As we all know, every baby is different and that goes for feeding, too. You can also ask for your baby to be checked for tongue tie by a qualified practitioner, if you suspect something isn’t right.

Some people you can ask for breast-feeding help and advice:

Your Midwife, Health Visitor, Sure Start centre, online support groups, National Breastfeeding Helpline (03001000212 0930-2130 every day), La Leche League (03451202918), National Childbirth Trust (NCT – 03003300700) @boobingit @peasbreastfeeding @breast_friend_uk and many, many more.

There is no such thing as a silly question!

Who or what helped you through your feeding journey?

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