NCT Response: Infant Feeding Survey

Released on: 21 June 2011

The NHS Information Centre released the Infant Feeding Survey 2010: Early Results on Tuesday 21 June.

Rosie Dodds, Senior Policy Adviser, NCT, said:

 “It’s great news that more women are starting to breastfeed in Britain and that more are getting the support they need to stop smoking while they are pregnant. It’s especially good news that breastfeeding rates increased in all social groups, with the greatest increases among women in routine and manual work* and among mothers who left school at 16 or younger.  Women from these groups are likely to have fewer friends or family members who have breastfed and this makes it harder to make a decision to start breastfeeding.

 

Across the UK four fifths of new mothers plan to breastfeed; we don’t yet know how many are enabled to continue. This data will not be available until next year, when it will be clearer whether mothers are actually getting the support they need to breastfeed. We do know from previous surveys most find that they have to stop breastfeeding before they want to because they do not get the help they need. Every year more than 200,000 mothers stop breastfeeding in the first few days and weeks - 90% of these mothers would have liked to continue. This situation is not inevitable; in Norway, Canada and Sweden more than 90% of mothers start to breastfeed and most continue without problems.

 The UK has begun to build a network of support for breastfeeding. NCT provides a country-wide network of breastfeeding counsellors, all trained to diploma level. The charity is also training more peer supporters, there are more Baby Café Locals and the UNICEF-UK Baby Friendly Initiative is improving support through the health service. Cuts in funding for parenting and child health services are threatening this support network, which can only lead to more women finding they are unable to continue breastfeeding, more disappointment and more unhappy experiences.

 The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition has today published a review of nutrition in mothers and children which recommends stronger support for breastfeeding, especially during the first few weeks after birth, recognising that how babies are fed has an impact on long term health.1

 The reduction in smoking before or during pregnancy across all social groups implies more women feel able to take control over their lives and are receiving support to stop smoking, which is a step in the right direction.”

 * from 65% in 2005 to 74% in 2010

1 Scientific Advisory of Committee on Nutrition. The influence of maternal, fetal and child nutrition on the development of chronic disease in later life. London. TSO. 2011. http://www.sacn.gov.uk/pdfs/sacn_early_nutrition_final_report_20_6_11.pdf