Half of new mothers are being given breastfeeding advice which 'is not good enough'
00:53 GMT, 21 August 2012
Almost half of new mothers are not being given basic advice from health officials on how to cope with breastfeeding, a major survey has revealed.
The health benefits of breastfeeding are well-known and doctors advise that babies should be exclusively breast-fed for the first six months of life when solid food should be added slowly.
But almost half of all UK mums surveyed felt they did not get enough support compared to 27 per cent last year.
Not enough support: Nearly half of mothers surveyed said they needed more information breastfeeding
One in five women said midwives and health visitors had only told them the basics on how to cope with breastfeeding their newborn babies.
Only 65 per cent of British women breastfeed, compared with 80 and 90 per cent in Australia and New Zealand.
In Scotland, only 55 per cent of mother’s breast feed – one of the lowest rates in Europe – and just 42 per cent of British mothers are still breastfeeding six weeks after birth.
According to the new survey, mums said they were left to their own devices and had to work things out for themselves as midwives and health visitors were too busy.
More than 1,200 mums completed the Lansinoh Breastfeeding Survey 2012 and three quarters of UK mums said that boosting midwife numbers was key to improving breastfeeding rates in the UK.
Anna Burbidge, a spokesperson from the pro-breastfeeding group, La Leche League GB said: ‘There are many reasons why women might be reluctant to breastfeed, or struggle to get breastfeeding established.
‘Having enough time with supportive healthcare professionals can have a positive effect on breastfeeding.
Needing advice: Many new mothers said they were left to find out about breastfeeding by themselves without help from health workers. (Posed by model)
‘The intensive and sometimes challenging early days do pass, and as babies and mothers learn and grow together breastfeeding usually becomes a very enjoyable and important part of mothering for both of them.’
The survey also revealed that mothers were subscribing to numerous myths surrounding breastfeeding and 80 per cent of UK mums admitted they were scared breastfeeding would hurt.
Ms Burbidge added: ‘In the early days many women feel concerned that breastfeeding will hurt and sometimes just a small change in positioning the baby can make all the difference
‘Mothers can decide not to breastfeed because of simple misinformation, such as breastfeeding causes saggy breasts, or that mothers with small breasts produce less milk, or that women should not breastfeed after exercising.
‘If women receive accurate and positive information, and are supported, especially when difficulties arise, breastfeeding offers many benefits for both mother and baby.’
As well as pain, 38 per cent of mums said that their main fear was breastfeeding in public and a quarter believed it was wrong and embarrassing to breastfeed in public places.
Sixty-six per cent of mums said the main reason for choosing to breastfeed were the associated health benefits.
However, this percentage is considerably lower than Turkey, where 93 per cent of mums choose to breastfeed because of the health benefits, and Germany, where the figure is 75 per cent.
While the global survey revealed 86 per cent of UK mothers still felt ‘breast is best’, this figure dropped from 98 per cent in 2011.
Diane Emery, Director, Health Professional Liaison from Lansinoh said: ‘With the birth rate rising in the UK each year it is important that mums receive the support they need to breastfeed for as long as they wish.
‘We can see from the survey results that mums feel that they aren’t receiving enough information and encouragement.
‘It is imperative that mums know where they can go to find information about breastfeeding if they have any concerns.’