Sky News:-Schools should teach pupils about the importance of breastfeeding while working mums should be granted breaks to express milk, according to doctors.
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) has issued a series of recommendations aimed at reversing the low rate of breastfeeding in the UK.
In their proposals, the RCPCH is calling for schools to include breastfeeding as part of compulsory personal, social and health education (PSHE) lessons, as taught at secondary schools to pupils from the age of 11.
They have also urged the Government to bring in laws to ensure employers support breastfeeding through parental leave, feeding breaks and facilities for feeding or expressing milk.
Public Health England must develop a national strategy to change British society’s negative attitudes to breastfeeding, the RCPCH guidance added, which was published to coincide with the start of World Breastfeeding Week.
They warn the UK has one of the lowest rates of breastfeeding in the world, with only 40% of babies breastfeeding at six to eight weeks.
Research found only 34% of babies in the UK are receiving some breast milk at six months, compared with 49% in the US and 71% in Norway.
RCPCH president Professor Neena Modi insisted the UK has “little to celebrate” over its record of encouraging breastfeeding.
She said: “The health benefits of breastfeeding are beyond question, from reduced likelihood of intestinal, respiratory and ear infections to hospitalisation.
“Regrettably the attitudes of a large part of society mean breastfeeding is not always encouraged; local support is patchy, advice is not always consistent and often overly dogmatic, support in the workplace not always conducive to continued breastfeeding and perhaps most worryingly breastfeeding in public is still often stigmatised.
“It is no wonder that for many mothers, there are too many barriers.”
She added: “With the right support and guidance, the vast majority of women should be able to breastfeed. But although it’s natural, it doesn’t always come naturally.
“Some mothers cannot, or choose not to, breastfeed and this also needs to be respected.
“What society must get better at is removing the multiple barriers which can stand in the way of breastfeeding.
“Women, their families, no less children and society at large need information that is sensible and not overly dogmatic.
“Mums need support at the right time and place, including in the workplace from their employers, and a culture that promotes and encourages breastfeeding as a natural and positive thing to do.
“There must be a coordinated and determined approach across all the society if the situation is to be improved.”
Three-quarters of 1,030 mothers asked by website Mumsnet said they believed there was “too much emphasis on telling women why they should breastfeed, and not enough on supporting them to breastfeed”.