Public Health Wales encourages parents to think again about breastfeeding
As the world celebrates Breastfeeding Week this week, Public Health Wales has revealed that only around half of parents (51 per cent) in Wales say that they were definitely going to breastfeed their baby when they were pregnant. This means that almost a half were definitely going to bottle feed or were unsure about their choice.
The survey was carried out earlier this year as part of Every Child Wales, Public Health Wales’ new programme to improve the health and wellbeing of children under five.
The recommendation from Public Health Wales is to give babies nothing but breastmilk for the first six months; before introducing other foods and continue breastfeeding for as long as they wish.
However, the survey also revealed that although almost half (49 per cent) of those who breastfeed do so for at least four months, one in five (19 per cent) do so for less than a month.
Evidence shows that breastfed babies are more likely to grow up a healthy weight and are less at risk of high blood pressure and heart disease as they get older.
Every Child Wales recognises that breastfeeding doesn’t come easily to all mums and offers advice and support, as part of the 10 Steps to a Healthy Weight.
Karen Thompson, Consultant in Public Health for Obesity Prevention and Nutrition for Public Health Wales said:
“These results are important because those parents who were really positive about breastfeeding were much more likely to succeed compared to those who were uncertain. In many parts of Wales breastfeeding is very rare and bottle feeding is normal. Unless we can change this, many babies in Wales will not get the many benefits that breastmilk brings in both short term and longer term health outcomes.
“Breast milk is all a baby needs in the first six months, providing them with all the vital nutrients to grow healthily. And it is not just good for baby’s weight, it’s good for mums too. You can naturally burn 500 calories a day through breastfeeding.
“We need to understand more about why some parents are unsure about breastfeeding and help to address those concerns in a positive way. If parents are uncertain we would encourage them to talk to their midwife or health visitor and they will be able to put them in touch with other mums who have breastfed successfully – above all we would say just give it a go, you may find it is easier than you think.”
Every Child Wales brings together lots of great information and advice to support breastfeeding parents as part of its 10 steps to a healthy weight.
For more information and to get free advice from Public Health Wales, visit www.everychildwales.co.uk or follow @EveryChildWales on Twitter and Facebook.
Beaufort Research undertook a survey on behalf of Public Health Wales consisting of a total of 1,503 telephone interviews with parents and carers of children aged 0 to 5 in Wales, between 11 April and 6 June 2017.
What mums across Wales said
Lyndsey, Neath Port Talbot
Mum of James John Jenkins, 19 months-old
“Have everything you need around you before you start feeding as you will be there for some time and often – a drink, lots of snacks, muslin to wipe any spillages, cushions for support, breast pads… breast shells were a particular breastfeeding saver of mine.”
Janine, Neath Port Talbot
Mum of Elijah, 5 years old and Jedaiah, 14 weeks-old
“Make sure you get the correct support from day one to make sure your latch is correct. This will avoid so many problems. Drink and eat plenty to keep a good supply. Don't panic about feeding in public. You're doing THE most incredible thing for your baby. Be proud and stick at it!”
Rosi Jones, Swansea
Mum of Lucas, 5 years old and Joseph, 17 months-old
“Don’t worry about routines and timing. Baby’s tummies are so tiny, they need small, regular feeds. Responsive feeding is best for both baby and you.”
Kayleigh Dyer, Swansea
Mum of two sons
“Make sure you are well informed. There is a lot of misinformation out there. By researching breastfeeding and being a member of a support group, I was confident that what I was doing was right.”
Rhian Jones, Swansea
Mum of two sons, 10 years old and 21 months-old
“Never give up on a bad day, and stay hydrated.”
Louise Mensah, Chepstow
Mum of two
“Remind yourself of the huge health benefits. After every feed I would remind myself that I was contributing to reducing my baby’s risk of many common infections and developing diabetes. For myself, I was reducing the risk of heart disease, breast cancer and ovarian cancer. That is incredible.”
Naomi Dyke, Caerphilly
Mum of Elsie, 4 years old and Frankie, 9 months-old
“Trust your body, there is only a small percentage of women who physically can’t breastfeed. Have confidence in yourself!”
Nia Bettridge, Cardiff
Mum of Elise, 22 weeks-old
“Don’t feel guilty if breastfeeding doesn’t work out for you, it is not for everyone. Doing what suits you and baby is the most important.”
Emily Kenbrey, Cwmbran
Mum of Arthur, 10 months-old
“Look after yourself. Breastfeeding can be tough and with all the other challenges of a new baby, it is very tiring. Don’t be afraid to say no to visitors, or ask them to do things for you in exchange for cuddles, they won’t mind. Keep a bottle of water to hand, and make sure you drink it, you need to drink more while you’re breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is hungry work too, so don’t forget to eat!”
Mum of Thomas, 8 months-old
“Sleep when your baby does, or ask your partner/family member to look after baby in between feeds so you can recharge.”
Mum of Emelia, 3 years old and Joshua, 1 year old
“Find a support system that you are comfortable with, whether it is over Facebook, face-to-face at local groups or with your friends and family. There are people who have been in the same position as you, they will be able to answer any questions you might have.”
Carys Evans, Bettws Newydd
Mum of Hâf, 3 years old and Mari, five weeks-old
“Make sure your family understand your choices and support you. Breastfeeding takes time and others need to understand that this is your priority.”