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Why are breastfeeding rates so low in the UK?

(772 Posts)
Olivebrach Tue 12-Jun-18 19:57:43

So related to the news about the Royal College of Midwives changing their policy saying mothers have the right to formula feed and the stigma around formula needs to change ect..

I get it that for people that breastfeeding doesnt work out for/isnt easy, they shouldnt be made to feel like a failure. And the 'breast is best' mantra can be upsetting if that is what you desire to do but it doesnt work out.

But considering the breastfeeding rates are so low in the UK (1 in 200 babies are breastfed at the age of 1). The "mantra" and policy atm currently isnt working to up bf rates..? Clearly more people are formula feeding.

So in your opinion..
what should be done to increase breastfeeding?
And why do so few women end up breastfeeding?

AIBU to think the rates need to improve?

Kraggle Tue 12-Jun-18 20:01:17

So many women end up giving up because there is not enough publicity on the realities of breastfeeding. The cluster feeds, the feeding every hour, the baby only sleeping on you etc.

Not sure how it can be improved, women will either do it or not and formula is seen as easier for a lot of people, eg feed every 4 hours, baby sleeps longer quicker than a bf baby, plus breastfeeding is not always successful for everyone so someone might want to feed but be unable to.

Lethaldrizzle Tue 12-Jun-18 20:01:19

From what I read on here alot of people find it unpalatable - Which is bonkers

Grasslands Tue 12-Jun-18 20:02:56

it's probably tied with the need to return to work.

Butterflykissess Tue 12-Jun-18 20:03:06

stigma of ff?! its the norm!

Confusedwife84 Tue 12-Jun-18 20:04:54

Totally agree @Kraggle , the realities of it are not properly explained before birth. I had no idea how absolutely horrendous it could be.

Pengggwn Tue 12-Jun-18 20:06:28

The problem is that you are still saying 'breast is best'. Most women don't want to hear that. They want to be left to make the choice that works for them.

Why wouldn't I want to BF?

- It hurts like fuck
- You are tied to the baby 24/7
- Expressing is an undignified, messy mess
- You're judged for having a glass of anything you fancy or eating anything you want
- Your boobs end up huge and veiny and then deflate like popped balloons
- You can end up feeding far more often than you would with a bottle
- Nights are worse than with a bottle

Is that not a 'good enough' list, or is the problem (if we're honest) that that list takes my needs into account?

Lazypuppy Tue 12-Jun-18 20:06:36

For me i'm stopping at 6 months ready to return to work at 9 months. No other reason. I've loved breastfeeding and luckily have found it very easy.

stargirl1701 Tue 12-Jun-18 20:06:41

Historical & culture 'norms' within our society. The 'myth of the good baby' - reality of a bf baby is far from this.

Advertising of formula. The budget for this in the U.K. is staggering and subtly sends messages to women long before they are pregnant.

The Politics of Breastfeeding and Breastfeeding Uncovered are two great books if you want to understand how we got to where we are today.

tentontruck Tue 12-Jun-18 20:06:47

From my experience there was lots of talk about it before the birth, and how important it was, but once the baby was born no support whatsoever. Ended up in hospital with DS because he lost too much weight as he hadn't been getting enough milk from me. I thought I was doing it right because nobody told me otherwise until it was too late.

Parker231 Tue 12-Jun-18 20:07:03

I preferred to ff from day one. Worked perfectly for me, DC’s and my family. Happy healthy DC’s.

JumbleJamba Tue 12-Jun-18 20:07:19

Fed is best. End of.

StorminaBcup Tue 12-Jun-18 20:08:03

There's not enough support. Every hospital does not have a breast feeding counsellor so most initial experiences of breast feeding are an over worked and well meaning mid wife man-handling your breast and trying to get a new born to latch. The support once you have left hospital is patchy depending on where you live. Tongue-tie waiting lists are ridiculously long. Support networks for new mums and maternal mental health aren't great in the UK, you only have to read the news and MN campaigns to see this. I think Breast feeding / bottle feeding is the first and hardest battle that often gets lost because of these factors.

jimijack Tue 12-Jun-18 20:08:59

But where do they get the stats from?

No one has ever asked me and friends who I know have bf beyond a year have never been asked by any one!

SemperIdem Tue 12-Jun-18 20:09:06

Because more and more women simply do not want to breastfeed. Not hard to work out.

Singlebutmarried Tue 12-Jun-18 20:09:25

Tried, failed. Was made to feel like shite by local Mum and baby groups. Had three weeks of hell and a starving baby, switched to formula and baby was fed and normality sort of resumed.

Hmmalittlefishy Tue 12-Jun-18 20:09:57

Generations of formula feeding so most mums will follow what their mum did etc and if not sometimes feel the pressure to give a bottle 'it's easier and didn't you do any harm'

Even if the breastfeeding is going well being the sole provider of good is mentally hard. The sleep deprivation is a killer and it's so hard when you're up at 3am and your dh is fast asleep next to you. A Ff mum will say 'my dh/dm etc can give me a break Sao I can have a whole night's sleep'

We expect breastfed babies to feed the same as Ff and when they don't panic they are not getting enough milk

The worry that someone will say something to you if you feed in public. I've never once had a negative look or comment but the media stories don't help

Pikehau Tue 12-Jun-18 20:11:08

Support postnatally for those that really want to try - so that’s £ for the nhs

Culturally we have an odd attitude to boobs - it appears somewhere not sure what generation boobs were not seen as primarily for feeding which is odd because we are mammals

Probably have not managed to get the right message accross either to try and improve rates as this story about the formula support has done the rounds today and it’s only a few lines out of pages.

Brazil dramatically increased bf rates. I’ll have to look at how as it was about 6 years ago I read about it.

You need to:

1) help and support the huge % of woman who want to try

2)encourage those who bf to do so for more than 6 months to help normalise bf

3) then tackle those who are not so keen by educationg but not sure how you do that given how breast milk is best (science fact) ends up being used in bun fights on here and those who bf accused of not supporting ff. which is nonsense.

Pompom42 Tue 12-Jun-18 20:11:35

I'm with you @jimijack no health professional asks if you're still BF after the 1st year check

redexpat Tue 12-Jun-18 20:11:47

Because its not really visible in society. You dont see it on tv for example. Its possible to get to becoming a mother never having seen others bf.

Maternity leave. If you need to go back to work then the baby needs to be weaned before that.

Its seen as something posh, possibly because those most likely to bf are well educated women in their 30s.

Whenever there are trials with finacial rewards there are cries of oh its ridiculous! Its indoctrination! You should bf because you want to. The state shoulnt reward bfing when some women cant. But research shows that financial rewards keep people going for a bit longer. So if theyre having a hard time at 10 weeks, a reward at the end of the 12th is likely to motivate them to keep going for a bit longer.

LineRunners Tue 12-Jun-18 20:12:58

I had to return to work. The reality of keeping a roof over our heads, not losing job, coupled with the costs of housing, commuting times and costs, culture of long hours in academia, etc etc, led to some tough decisions about stopping bf.

anotherangel2 Tue 12-Jun-18 20:14:19

StorminaBcup describes my experience. I gave up after supply issues (due to spesis) which meant I was feeding for hours at time, topping up with formula, trying to express to increase supply and then baby would wake for feeding again. I literally had no sleep, no wonder my supply was not improving. I was refused medication to increase my supply. Then my baby had major issues latching due to reflux and she was given gaviscon which is much cheaper than Rantitadine but incredibly difficult to give to a breast feed baby.

Most mothers that I know who ff wanted to breast feed but could not due to lack of support and their own health conditions - most of them have serious issues with guilt.

Hmmalittlefishy Tue 12-Jun-18 20:14:23

jimijack they ask at the hospital post birth and at the health visitor visits and midwife vists. The sustainment rates are normally around 4-6 weeks. Not sure if they record any after that as the routine visits arent u til later. I don't think it's recorded at 9 - 12 mth development check. It will be noted at weigh ins
So our longer term feeding rates will be probably lower.
I imagine lots of mothers feel guilted (unnecessarily) into saying they are bf or mixed feeding when they have given up and are ff as they fear a lecture

DappledThings Tue 12-Jun-18 20:14:28

Community must play a part. Have just moved but had both DC in SE London. All my friends bf'd. All the other mums I met at groups bf'd. There were bf cafe sessions available twice a week for anyone wanting help and people swapped details of an apparently amazing woman who cut tongue ties and coached you through it.

One of NCT group couldn't bf. She combi fed for a bit but said she felt really judged for ffing a newborn in public.

If everyone around you either bfs or ffs you are much more likely to do the same.

Since moving to Canterbury with a still young and still ebf baby I've had 3 comments from strangers. All positive ones but goes to show how unusual it must be. And a nice chat with a woman in a cafe who asked me how long I fed my elder DC. I assume she doesn't have many people around to ask their experiences.

wwwwwwwwwwwwww Tue 12-Jun-18 20:15:22

I think the lack of staff on post natal wards and the hideous environment means women don't get the help or don't want to stay to access the help. Midwives are to busy or don't have the time to support breastfeeding. I really needed a hospital grade pump and could afford to hire one but I imagine lots of women couldn't.

Then you have the really negative culture towards breastfeeding. I have encountered negative comments and looks.

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