The number of women breastfeeding in Britain is low due to societal pressures mothers face, a professor has argued. 

In January 2016, a study published in The Lancet, revealed just 0.5% of women in Britain are still breastfeeding one year after becoming mums. This compared to 23% in Germany and 98% in Scandinavian countries. 

Discussing the low rates at the British Science Festival, Professor Amy Brown of Swansea University said the “situation has arisen because of society creating huge problems”.

“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,” she said, at the festival on Friday 9 September, according to The Telegraph. 

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Brown was speaking at the festival ahead of the publication of her book, ‘Breastfeeding Uncovered’. She said that while a large proportion of mothers struggle to breastfeed, few have conditions actually preventing the process.

Brown said society needs to “change its attitudes” and take better care of new mothers by truly supporting them. 

“Until then,” she added, “we will not see rates rise.

“The way forward is that we need a complete societal change to how we look at breastfeeding, how we accept it, but also how we accept and value mothering in general.”

Commenting on Brown’s speech, Sarah Fox professional policy advisor at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) told The Huffington Post UK: “The important issue is to ensure that women have access to skilled advice and support to help them to initiate and sustain breastfeeding.

“With the continuing shortage of midwives in England sometimes the NHS struggles to give women the advice and help around breastfeeding that they need and deserve.

“This underpins yet again why breastfeeding should be encouraged and supported. It is without doubt one of the most positive ways for a woman to give her newborn the best possible start in life.”

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  • Image by Mae Burke
  • Image by Mae Burke
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