Breastfeeding in the UK

Nutrition & Food Science

ISSN: 0034-6659

Article publication date: 1 December 1999



(1999), "Breastfeeding in the UK", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 99 No. 6.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 1999, MCB UP Limited

Breastfeeding in the UK

Breastfeeding in the UK

Rates for breastfeeding in the UK are among the lowest in Europe with 66 per cent of mothers breastfeeding at birth falling to 27 per cent by four months. The incidence of breastfeeding varies significantly across different regions, social and age groups of mothers. Of those women who do breastfeed, 90 per cent said they wanted to do so for longer. In addition to lack of support in the early days, other reasons for stopping were feeling uncomfortable about feeding their baby in public, general public attitudes and pressure to return to work. The UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative recognises that more can be done at national, regional and local levels to overcome these obstacles. Its proposals include supporting women who want to breastfeed in public areas or providing comfortable private facilities for those who prefer them. Flexible working hours, adopting best practice standards in the NHS with training in breastfeeding education and support and promoting breastfeeding with accurate information in schools are other solutions. The Initiative also recommends that the inequality in welfare provision for low income mothers who choose to breastfeed should be addressed. Currently bottle-feeding mothers receive a weekly voucher for a 900g tin of formula worth around »6.95. Breastfeeding mothers receive a voucher for four litres of cow's milk worth around »2.45. In March UNICEF worked with Channel 4's Brookside to incorporate breastfeeding into its storyline to show that it is a normal part of everyday life. The programme received a special award for this. The Initiative has launched its call for nominations for future awards for individuals or organisations who make a positive contribution supporting women who choose to breastfeed.

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