Mums reveal perceived barriers to breastfeeding

My Breastfeeding Journey | Shabs Kwofie, Founder of AmaWrap (F)

New mothers reveal the perceived barriers to breastfeeding in a new government survey.

According to the research from Public Health England (PHE) and NHS England, the proportion of new mothers who are still breastfeeding after two months drops by 40 per cent.

Although almost three-quarters of women start breastfeeding when their child is born, this drops to 44 per cent within six to eight weeks. However, the new study found that the right support helps mums breastfeed for longer.

The survey of 500 mothers with young children found that more than half were concerned that breastfeeding could mean they wouldn’t be able to tell if their baby was getting too much or not enough milk.

A similar proportion of mums surveyed thought that people might assume the need a special diet to breastfeed. Nearly three in ten worried that breastfeeding could mean their baby might not be getting the right nutrients, indicating why mothers may stop breastfeeding at this early point.

The survey also confirmed that breastfeeding in public is something that mums are concerned about. The mothers polled were most likely to say that they would feel embarrassed breastfeeding in the presence of people they didn’t know. 59 per cent feel the same about partner’s family and 49 per cent felt it about siblings and wider family members.

Despite the worry about feeding in public, of those surveyed 49 per cent of mums were inspired to breastfeed by high profile figures, such as Fearne Cotton and Blake Lively. Two-thirds of mums said they felt more confident to breastfeed in public because of celebrity mums.

Breastfeeding boosts a baby’s ability to fight illness and infection. Babies who are not breastfed are more likely to get diarrhoea and respiratory infections. It lowers a mother’s risk of ovarian and breast cancer, and also burns around 500 calories a day.

To encourage more mothers to take up breastfeeding, PHE have created the Start4Life programme, that helps parents and parents-to-be to adopt healthy behaviours. The programme has recently launched a new interactive Breastfeeding Friend (BFF) ChatBot.

The BFF is accessed through Facebook messenger and provides personal support for mothers at any time of the day or night to help make breastfeeding a better experience. The BFF will also dispel breastfeeding myths and help alleviate concerns mums have. The ChatBot works as a live chat tool which is able to respond to questions about breastfeeding posed by the user.

Viv Bennett, Chief Nurse at PHE said, “Breastfeeding, while natural, is something that all mums and their babies learn by doing.”

“Mums tell us that after the first few weeks breastfeeding becomes easier, so proper support is crucial at this time, which is where our BFF is designed to help.”

“We can all help women feel comfortable breastfeeding their baby wherever they are.”

“Creating a wider culture of encouragement and support will help make a mother’s experience all the more positive.”

Jacque Gerrard, Director for England at Royal College of Midwives’ said, “Getting infant feeding right will help give new-born babies the best possible start in life.”

“Women need all the support they can get, particularly first time mothers.”

“It is important that midwives and maternity support workers continue to promote breastfeeding.”

“Any initiative that goes towards helping mothers start and sustain breastfeeding for longer is positive as we know the health benefits from being breastfed last a lifetime.”

About the author

Alison is the Digital Content Editor for WeAreTheCity. She has a BA Honours degree in Journalism and History from the University of Portsmouth. She has previously worked in the marketing sector and in a copywriting role. Alison’s other passions and hobbies include writing, blogging and travelling.

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