Women giving up breastfeeding 'due to embarrassment’

24 March 2017

Mothers in Britain are avoiding breastfeeding due to embarrassment or fear their baby isn’t getting enough milk, a new survey has suggested.

Government statistics from over 152,000 women showed that 45 per cent were feeding their babies breast milk at two months old. At present, the National Health Service (NHS) recommends that tots are fed from their mums alone for the first six months before moving onto a combination of breast and formula milk until 12 months. Also of concern was the discovery that a mere 30 per cent of babies aged six to eight weeks were given just breast milk.

Public Health England looked into the reasons behind this, carrying out a separate survey on 500 new mums. Of these women, nearly two thirds admitted they were embarrassed to do it in front of strangers, while 44 per cent didn’t even feel comfortable doing it in front of friends. Meanwhile, 54 per cent felt their offspring weren’t getting enough or drinking too much milk, and just over half (51 per cent) admitted they felt breastfeeding would ‘tie them down’ and prevent them from making plans.

Read more: ‘I was humiliated, shocked and enraged’: SA mom ‘publicly shamed’ for breastfeeding on flight

Another surprise reason was that they would not be able to drink alcohol, with 71 per cent of the women commenting on this. Women are urged not to drink more than two alcoholic beverages while breastfeeding as the drink can pass into the milk.

While it wasn’t clarified whether new mothers used these reasons to not breastfeed, the survey does prove there is a stigma surrounding the practice.

“Getting infant feeding right will help give newborn babies the best possible start in life," Jacque Gerrard, Royal College of Midwives director for England, explained. "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."

Read more: Skin contact between babies and mothers aids breastfeeding

Breast milk has been praised for its antibodies, helping boost little ones' immune systems, and it's also been linked to higher IQs in children and a lower risk of obesity.

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