Maternity units: not teaching us how to breastfeed?

Report says maternity units are failing to teach mums how to breastfeed.

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A Unicef report has claimed maternity units are failing to teach mum how to breastfeed, resulting in many giving up before their baby is 6 weeks old.

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends babies are exclusively breastfed until they’re 6 months old, but figures from Unicef suggest less than 2% of mums in Britain manage to do this. Compared to other nations, such as Australia where almost a third of mums make it to 6 months, Britain’s record is one of the worst in the developed world.

The Unicef report says about 90% of hospitals in England aren’t sufficiently qualified to support breastfeeding mums because nurses don’t have the basic knowledge. By 6 weeks, 52% of mums in the UK don’t give their babies any breast milk, while 24% bottlefeed their babies right from the start.

Breastfeeding has health benefits such as reducing the incidence of childhood gastroenteritis, asthma, diabetes and obesity. Of the women questioned, 84% said they knew about the health benefits. This is a 2% drop since 2000.

Sue Ashmore, director of Unicef’s baby friendly initiative, said there was a serious lack of care and support once mums leave hospital. “As things stand, women are being set up to fail. Many of the benefits depend on the baby being exclusively breastfed and increase with duration,” Sue has said.

Mums often stop breastfeeding and opt for formula because of pain, low milk production and the pressure of balancing work and feeding. Unicef is calling for more health visitors and maternity units to be trained properly, so they can teach mums how to get their baby to latch on correctly to avoid soreness, cracked nipples and to stop their milk supply drying up.

Since 2008 the Department of Health has spent £12 million trying to improve services for breastfeeding mums.

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Do you wish you had more breastfeeding support, or are you feed up with being told how you should feed your baby? Let us know…

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