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Thank you for visiting the Hospital Infant Feeding Network. This website is a repository of relevant knowledge and best practice resources for health professionals. To join the conversation, ask questions and share your experiences please join us on Facebook or Twitter.

 

We will be running Q&A sessions on various topics, which will be advertised on our social media sites. Please email if you have ideas or want to get more involved. We welcome health professionals passionate about supporting breastfeeding in the hospital setting to join our steering group, please get in contact if this is you!

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BREASTFEEDING IN THE UK

The state of breastfeeding in England - Public Health England infographic
Figure from Public Health England, click on the picture for references

In a recent national survey in Scotland, 75% of mothers started to breastfeed, 69% were giving any breastmilk on leaving the hospital/birthing unit, 55% were breastfeeding at 6 weeks and 43% at 6 months of age. Rates of exclusive breastfeeding are much lower. 25% of babies had never received infant formula at around 2-3 months of age and 16% had never received any infant formula at around 8-12 months of age.

There are many reasons for the poor state of breastfeeding in the UK, compared to other high income countries. The UK World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative Report in 2016 identified insufficient training for health professionals as one of seven key gaps.

Figure from WBTi UK, click on the picture to go to the site

What do mothers say?

The 2017 Scottish Infant Feeding Survey reported that:

  • Two thirds of mothers who had initiated breastfeeding reported experiencing some problems

  • Half of mothers had difficulty with attachment to the breast in the early days

  • 65% of mothers were concerned about their milk supply in the first few weeks

  • A quarter of breastfeeding mothers said that they had been made to feel uncomfortable when breastfeeding their baby

  • Three quarters of mothers who stopped breastfeeding wanted to continue

  • Of those who stopped breastfeeding, 77% had problems with attachment to the breast and 86% were concerned about their milk supply

It is also important to note the mental health impact of this steep drop off in breastfeeding rates. Mothers who plan to breastfeed and don't succeed have a 50% higher rate of postnatal depression than those who plan to breastfeed and do so. This is a useful website for mothers and health professionals to work through their feelings about feeding.