Breastfeeding boom in UK as well-off older mothers lead the way<br>Some 87% of over-30s start their babies off on breast milk compared to 58% of teenage mothers<br>Higher numbers of women are also persevering and continuing to breast-feed for at least six months<br>

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<strong>UPDATED:</strong>

09:55 GMT, 21 November 2012

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<p>Rising numbers of new mothers are breastfeeding, figures show, and older middle-class women are leading the charge. <br></p><p>Some 81 per cent now start their babies on breast milk compared with just 66 per cent in the mid-nineties.</p><p>The groups most likely to feed their babies naturally included over 30s, those living in the least deprived areas and women working in professional or managerial jobs.</p>
<img src="http://www.big-wife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/8237article-2236014-15339310000005DC-82_468x471.jpg" width="468" height="471" alt="Breast-feeding boom: The number of women opting to breast-feed their newborns has risen significantly since the mid-1990s" class="blkBorder" />
<p class="imageCaption">Breast-feeding boom: The number of women opting to breast-feed their newborns has risen significantly since the mid-1990s</p>
<p> Some 87 per cent of the over-30s start their babies off on breast milk compared to just 58 per cent of teenage mothers. <br></p><p>And 90 per cent of women in managerial
or professional roles start breast-feeding compared with 74 per cent in
routine or manual occupations.</p><p>The statistics also show that higher numbers of women are persevering and continuing to breastfeed for at least six months.</p><p>Just over a third, 34 per cent, are still feeding their infants breast milk when they are six months old compared with just 21 per cent in 1995 and 26 per cent in 2005.<br></p><p>Yet despite the rise, only one in 100 are obeying NHS guidelines that they should exclusively breast-feed for the first six months.<br></p><p>

</p><p>Many will also give their babies formula milk or start them on soft foods within the first six months.<br></p><p>Campaigners said the NHS&#8217;s goal was unrealistic given women&#8217;s day-to-day lives and the difficulties they encounter breast- feeding. <br></p><p>Heather Trickey, research manager for the National Childbirth Trust said: &#8216;We are concerned that a high proportion of mothers stop before they planned to in the early days and weeks. <br></p><p>&#8216;This suggests many women are still not getting all the support they need during this critical adjustment period. Mothers who plan to breast-feed need access to skilled, knowledgeable, non-judgmental, one-to-one support.<br></p><p>&#8216;The percentage of mothers exclusively breast-feeding to six months, in line with guidance from World Health Organisation and from UK health departments, is very small.<br></p><p>&#8216;This suggests that this high-level policy goal is not engaging with the reality of women&#8217;s experiences of feeding in the UK. <br></p>
<img src="http://www.big-wife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/76eaarticle-2236014-02ADB48900000578-774_233x363.jpg" width="233" height="363" alt="Many women will also give their babies formula milk in the first six months, the research showed" class="blkBorder" />
<p class="imageCaption">Many women will also give their babies formula milk in the first six months, the research showed</p>
<p>&#8216;We are concerned that more attention needs to be given to real-life circumstances, concerns and perceived barriers that women experience, that limit opportunities to initiate breastfeeding and to continue for several months. <br></p><p>'The vast majority of UK mothers introduce formula milk at some point.&#8217; <br></p><p>Louise Silverton, director for midwifery at the Royal College of Midwives said: &#8216;There is still room for improvement in breast-feeding among groups with traditionally lower breastfeeding rates and those who tend to breast-feed for shorter durations.</p><p>&#8216;Furthermore, there needs to be a sea change in public attitudes towards breastfeeding in public places and more needs to be done to increase the visibility of breast-feeding and its acceptability in public.&#8217; <br></p><p>The overall rise follows years of Government &#8216;breast is best&#8217; campaigns promoting its benefit over formula milk.<br></p><p>Breast-feeding transfers a mother&#8217;s immunity to her baby, helping to protect it from chest and ear infections and eczema. <br></p><p>Studies have also shown it helps babies&#8217; brain development and reduces their chance of becoming obese when they grow up.<br></p>