As the world celebrates Breastfeeding Week this week, Public Health Wales has revealed that only around half of parents (51%) 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%) of those who breastfeed do so for at least four months, one in five (19%) 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.
Mums from across Wales have come forward in support of Every Child Wales to offer their first-hand advice to breastfeeding parents and those considering their feeding options.
One such parent is Alice Wilkins (pictured) from Cardiff, who is mum to two year old, Eli. Alice breastfed Eli until 14 months and said:
“At first, getting the latch right was frustrating. I found the best thing that I could do was stop trying, hold Eli and calm him and take a few deep breaths to calm myself.
“Before my milk came in I would worry about him being hungry, so a few times I would hand express onto a tea spoon and pour it into his mouth, it would soothe him and give him a bit of food, and give me some time to relax a little before trying again.
“My top tip would be build a nest. Take the best seat on the sofa, surround yourself with everything you could need, TV controls, a cup of tea, a book, I even had a foot rest and a nice V pillow to nestle Eli onto. You’ll be there a while so you might as well be comfortable!”
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.”
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.