Serious misunderstandings may be stopping young women from
breastfeeding, according the Department of Health.
A survey of over 1000 women for National Breastfeeding Awareness
Week found mistaken beliefs to be widespread, especially among the
young. More than one in three women believes that infant formula is
very similar to breast milk, although in fact it lacks many of the
valuable ingredients of breast milk including the antibodies.
“Breast milk is designed for each individual baby and
changes over time, “ says the DoH.
The UK has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in Europe.
Twenty nine per cent of mothers never even try it, compared to 2
per cent in Sweden. Among mothers under 25, more than 40 per cent
never try breastfeeding.
The survey found that one in five young women aged 16 to 24
years believes that breastfeeding would spoil their figure, though
according to the DoH it does not affect breast shape in the long
term, helps the womb return to its normal shape and uses up an
extra 500 calories a day.
Public attitudes to breastfeeding are much more tolerant than
most women believe, with surveys indicating that 84 per cent
believe it is fine for mothers to breastfeed discretely in front of
Give it a Go is the theme of National Breastfeeding week this
year. The campaign will focus on encouraging those with the lowest
breastfeeding rates, including young mothers and those in
disadvantaged areas, to start breastfeeding.