A wealth of research has linked breastfeeding to positives for both baby and mother. However, the UK has one of the lowest rates of breastfeeding in Europe.
The majority of mothers in the UK start breastfeeding, although this number decreases in the weeks after birth: 81% of mothers initiate breastfeeding but 34% are breastfeeding at six months and 0.5% at 12 months.
Breastfeeding is particularly low among very young mothers and those from disadvantaged socio-economic groups. This could widen existing health inequalities and contribute to the cycle of deprivation.
The RCPCH strongly supports breastfeeding, the promotion of breastfeeding and the provision of advice and support for women who chose to breastfeed.
Paediatricians should encourage and support mothers and local and national support programmes for breastfeeding mothers. If not directly involved in advising women who are breastfeeding, paediatricians can contribute by supporting colleagues and ensuring an environment where women can breastfeed comfortably.
We have updated our position statement on breastfeeding to include the following:
- an update of data on breastfeeding rates
- reference to the fact there's no evidence of transmission of COVID-19 in breast milk
- an update of our recommendations to reflect the latest progress on breastfeeding rates and to align with our calls made in the State of Child Health.