Next week is World Breastfeeding Awareness Week (1-7 August), which aims to highlight the value of breastfeeding globally.
Breastfeeding has benefits for the health and well-being of mothers and their babies, and is cheaper and more convenient than buying formula milk. However it is not always easy to make it work for you, and mums often need support from family and peer groups to successfully breastfeed.
The good news is that mums in Southwark are already leading the way with 91% of them choosing to breastfeed their new-borns – well above the national average of 73%. We know that breastfeeding provides health benefits for mother and baby including:
- breast milk is perfectly designed for a baby
- breast milk protects a baby from infections and diseases, including childhood leukaemia and type-2 diabetes
- breastfeeding reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- breast milk can reduce the risk of heart disease in adulthood
- breast milk is available for the baby whenever it needs it
- breastfeeding can build a strong emotional bond between mothers and babies.
Giving nothing but breast milk is recommended for the first six months (26 weeks) of a baby’s life. However we know that for many mums breastfeeding is not easy and new mums needing support with breastfeeding should speak to their midwife or health visitor for tips and advice – you should never be embarrassed to ask for help if things are not going as smoothly as planned. The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) also offers local breastfeeding counsellor services; contact the NCT’s breastfeeding line on 0300 330 0700, or call the government-funded national breastfeeding line on 0300 100 0212.