Many young mums don’t even consider breastfeeding. They think of it as old-fashioned or a bit ‘earth mother-ish’, the Infant Feeding Survey found in 2005.
Only around half of mums aged 20 or younger even attempt to breastfeed their baby.
One young mum who was determined to breastfeed her child was Bella from Cornwall.
She fell pregnant at 15. When the baby was born, she had to go into the Special Care Baby Unit. Bella was told by hospital staff that if she really wanted to breastfeed, she would have to express every 3-4 hours.
She managed it, but it was a struggle because she was given very little information and no support after she was discharged.
So when Bella’s second child was born two years later, she made up her mind that this time she would get it right. Her children are now aged 5 and 3 – and she has only just stopped breastfeeding.
Bella comes from a large family in a depressed, former mining area of Cornwall. No other family member breastfed. Friends and cousins who had children at the same time all bottlefed their babies and couldn’t understand why she didn’t do the same.
Bella says, ‘My family think they are supportive if they don’t smoke over the baby!’
But her partner, who is 21 now, like Bella, says he’s really proud that Bella breastfed for the sake of their babies.
After her breastfeeding experiences, Bella trained to be a peer group breastfeeding supporter and is a campaigner for the organisation Real Baby Milk.
Real Baby Milk, a not-for-profit group, has a website which aims to be a one-stop site for finding relevant and up-to-date information about breastfeeding and to help mums (particularly at the antenatal stage) to find their local support and local breastfeeding support groups before they encounter breastfeeding problems.
Statistics suggest that 70% of mothers want to breastfeed their babies, and 9 out of 10 women who gave up breastfeeding in the first two weeks were unhappy at having done so and if the right support had been available to them might have been able to continue. Real Baby Milk aims to help provide this support.