Breastfeeding rates lower than UK average

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Liverpool Women’s Hospital. Pic © Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust

Liverpool Women’s Hospital. Pic © Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust

New figures have revealed that women in Liverpool are less likely to breastfeed their babies despite an increase within the local community over the past year.

Figures show that in 2013 the number of mothers breastfeeding in the UK was at 74% within the first six weeks after giving birth. This stands in contrast to the figures in Liverpool, which were significantly lower at 53.2%.

Despite these low rates in comparison with the rest of the country, the number of women breastfeeding in the city has increased over the past 12 months, as in 2013 50.9% of new mothers in Liverpool were breastfeeding.

This rise is being put down to mothers being more aware and advice given by midwifes, GPs and support groups offering the same message, which has previously been criticised for being conflicting. Furthermore, social media campaigns such as ‘Breast is Best’ and ‘Be a Star’ have increased awareness and promoted the benefits breastfeeding has for newborn babies.

Liverpool Women’s Hospital homes the community support group BAMBIS, which stands for ‘Babies and Mums Breastfeeding Information Service’. The free community information service is supported and commissioned by Liverpool City Council.

Rachel Maudsley, the breastfeeding peers support co-coordinator at Liverpool Women’s Hospital, accepts the rates in Merseyside are low, but insists they are not the worst in the country.

She told JMU Journalism: “There are a whole load of reasons, to put one reason on it is way too generalised. It doesn’t come from the staff, as we here at the Women’s Hospital have the baby-friendly initiative.

“All of our staff are trained and give out the same, impartial information to patients. From there it is up to the mothers to make an informed decision to breastfeed or not.”

Rachel added that they will continue to work with new mothers as well as other aftercare groups and GPs to ensure all women are given the same advice. BAMBIES also has volunteer staff who have previously used the service who go on to give their support and experience to new mothers in the Merseyside community.

About Georgia Dunning, JMU Journalism