Breastfeeding is the natural and healthiest way for a woman to feed her baby and many important health benefits are known to exist for both the mother and her baby. It is recommended that babies are exclusively breastfed for 6 months, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that breastfeeding carries on beyond the first year as part of a mixed diet.
Alongside the professional support a breastfeeding mother receives from her midwife and health visitor, her partner, family and friends have a very important role to play by encouraging her and boosting her confidence. The more confident a mother feels in her ability to breastfeed her baby, the greater the chance that she will continue breastfeeding.
What are our breast feeding rates in Grampian?
Due to the importance of breastfeeding to our childrens health and wellbeing, NHS Grampian have set a target of 46% of babies being exclusively breastfed (at 6-8 weeks) by 2020. In Grampian, the BF rates are quite comparable to Scotland, with the overall breast feeding rate in Scotland remaining at a broadly similar level over the last decade.
In 2014/15 Grampian's exclusive breast feeding rate at the first visit (approx 10 days) was 44.4%, but this drops to 34.6% by 6-8 weeks. These figures also vary widely across different areas within each of the 3 local authority areas.
To try to reduce this early drop off in breastfeeding rates, we need to ensure that mums are aware of all the breastfeeding supports available to them, to help them feed for as long as they would like.
Why should a mum breastfeed?
Breastfeeding has enormous health benefits for both mother and baby, and is the most natural and healthiest way for a mother to feed her baby, providing the baby with the best start in life.
Don't just take our word for it!
Breastfeeding is the most natural and healthiest way to feed a baby, and is all a baby needs for the first six months of life
Breastfed babies have a decreased risk of urinary, gastrointestinal, ear and respiratory infection; eczema and asthma; juvenile onset diabetes and, in later life, obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Breast milk adapts to a baby's needs as they grow and develop, and also boosts their immune system.
Breastfed babies may also have better teeth formation and better neurological development
Women who breastfeed are at less risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, and hip fractures in later life
Breastfeeding uses up approximately 500 calories a day, and may help with post-pregnancy weight loss
Breastfeeding is convenient, free and environmentally friendly.
Local & national information, support and advice
There are lots of place to meet other mothers, discuss baby care and feeding with peers, seek professional advice or solve breastfeeding issues if they develop.
NHS Grampian has a Facebook page for information called 'Breastfeed Grampian' but, you will also find other local groups and pages online, with discussions and support from other mothers.
There are also lots of breastfeeding groups throughout Grampian. Please ask your midwife or health visitor for more information, or search for your area at www.babyfeedingmatters.co.uk.
Your local midwife or health visitor - for breastfeeding advice and information on local support groups.
There are some useful resources which are also available online:
Ready Steady Baby! Provides information to parents from pre-conception to the age of 1 and has breastfeeding information. www.readysteadybaby.org.uk
FeedGoodFactor Scottish Government website with practical information on breastfeeding, including local peer support groups and mums stories. www.feedgoodfactor.org.uk helpline 0300 100 0212
Bump to Breastfeeding - This DVD follows real mums' stories to show parents how to get started with breastfeeding - see clips online or ask your midwife for a copy: www.bestbeginnings.org.uk/watch-fbtb
UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative UNICEF also provides a range of information materials for families, for example Caring for your baby at night. www.babyfriendly.org.uk
Baby Feeding Matterswww.babyfeedingmatters.co.uk - an independent website seeking to provide easily accessible, up-to-date and accurate information for parents by health professionals
There are a number of voluntary organisations and charities that support breastfeeding across the UK. Many have support lines and also run local groups:
NCT Breastfeeding Line Tel: 0300 330 0771 (8am-10pm, seven days a week) to talk to a qualified breastfeeding counsellor www.nct.org.uk Accurate and impartial information for parents.