Swansea University Professor Prompts Breast Feeding Debate

A professor in public health at Swansea University has ignited a debate on breastfeeding, indicating that mothers are given insufficient support and information in order to conduct this healthy activity.

Dr. Amy Brown suggests that an increasing number of British parents are choosing to feed their children with formula milk.

This is despite the fact that avoiding breastmilk increases the risk of gastroenteritis and respiratory illnesses.

With Brown particularly concerned about the topic, the esteemed professor addressed the British Science Festival on the matter, with the intention of achieving more funding and improved support for new mothers.

“Breastfeeding should be normal behaviour. However, in this country it sparks high levels of debate in the press and online – much of which can be highly critical of breastfeeding or examples of when a mother has experienced a problem when feeding her child this way. Despite the promotion that ‘breast is best’, we do not follow it up with actions to support new mothers. More people here believe that smacking is acceptable than believe that breastfeeding in public is OK”.

Brown went on to outline the benefits of a significant increase in the number of British mothers breastfeeding infants.

“If we could raise breastfeeding rates by just two-thirds, we could save the NHS £40m a year as excess appointments for babies fed on formula milk, who are more prone to illness, would no longer be needed”.

Data published by the Lancet medical journal indicated that only one in every 200 British children is breastfed throughout the first year of its existence.

This is obviously an extremely paltry proportion, and also compares extremely unfavourably with other similar nations.

For example, the breastfeeding rate at 12 months in a Scandinavian countries is 98%, while even in the United States 27% of mothers breastfeed until 12 months of age.

“Is the reason for the low figures because of physical problems? No. There are only 2% of women in the UK who are unable to breastfeed because of a physical problem or because of medication that they are on. The situation has arisen because of society creating huge problems,” Brown opined.

The breastfeeding expert also believes that companies selling formula products use clever, yet underhanded, tactics in order to convince mothers to opt for non-breastfeeding options.

Alongside this, new mothers face significant social pressure to ‘get their lives back’ quickly after having a baby – by socialising, getting back in their jeans and keeping their partner happy – which can make breastfeeding so overwhelming,” Brown asserted.

Brown believes that this already serious situation will get worse until awareness of the issue in the UK is more widespread.

“Despite more than 90% of mothers in the UK wanting to breastfeed, more than half [of babies] have had some formula by the end of their first week. Overall, the UK has the lowest breastfeeding rate in the world. Until we challenge attitudes and take better care of our new mothers and truly support them, we will not see rates rise.”

Brown will examine the issue further in her upcoming book Breastfeeding Uncovered, due for publication in October.


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