NCT response: Department of Health breastfeeding figures

Released on: 20 July 2011

The Department of Health has today released new figures on breastfeeding. The breastfeeding initiation rate in England was 72.7% in 2009/10, slightly higher than the figure of 71.7% in 2008/9. However, NCT was concerned to see that the number of mums continuing to breastfeed dropped to around 45% within six to eight weeks after birth.

Rosie Dodds, Senior Public Policy Officer, NCT, said: “We are disappointed to see that one third of women stopped breastfeeding within six to eight weeks after the birth. From UK-wide Infant Feeding Surveys we know that nine out of ten of these women want to continue, but lack the information and support they need.


“It is particularly worrying to see the proportion of women who stopped breastfeeding in those early weeks varied between 5% in some areas to nearly 40% in others.


“In spite of NICE recommendations in 2006 and 2008, only 10% of babies in England are born in hospitals that have achieved UNICEF Baby Friendly standards, compared to 56% in Northern Ireland, 46% in Wales and 41% in Scotland. It's clear more now needs to be done to create Baby Friendly hospitals in England.  


“NCT, the UK’s largest parenting charity, is working hard with PCTs and Children’s Centres to increase support by training professionals and mother-to-mother supporters, running antenatal and breastfeeding courses, and drop-ins. It is important that schemes like these are extended to improve the health of mothers and babies.”