Britain’s breastfeeding rates are among the lowest in Europe. In Norfolk last year, while 75 per cent of new mothers breastfed their babies, by six to eight weeks, the proportion was down to 43 per cent receiving breast milk. Only 32 per cent of babies were being fed on breast milk only.
NHS Norfolk and NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney have responded to this by commencing a campaign with the slogan: “Breastmilk – every day counts, every feed counts, every drop counts”.
The joint director of public health for NHS Norfolk and Norfolk County Council, Dr Jenny Harries, emphasised the benefits:
“Research suggests that children who have been breastfed may have a reduced risk of contracting stomach bugs, chest infections, asthma, eczema, and suffering allergies. Also, children who are breastfed are thought to be less likely to be obese when they get older.
“Mothers benefit from developing a strong emotional bond with their child, can have a reduced risk of pre-menopausal breast and ovarian cancers, and are less likely to suffer hip fractures in later life.”
It is a persuasive argument, but many mothers struggle with breastfeeding for a number of reasons. Fortunately, there are a number of products available that can help make the process easier.
Disposable and reusable breast pads are available to combat leaking nipples and also to help with soreness. Nipple protectors are also available for the latter problem. Soft, odourless and taste-free, they are also shaped to allow skin contact with the baby, which means the milk supply continues to be stimulated. Moisturising cream is also available as a further measure.