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Concern as city mothers lag behind on breastfeeding; Liverpool figure up - but still UK's lowest.

Byline: BY ALAN WESTON Daily Post Staff

LIVERPOOL has the lowest rate of breastfeeding among new mothers in the country, a new report has found.

While more new mothers than ever are opting to breastfeed their babies, research has revealed that Liverpool has seen an increase to only 48%, compared with a national average of 65%.

The survey, carried out by baby feeding brand Philips Avent, set out to look at changing trends and attitudes towards baby feeding among new mothers over the past 30 years.

The poll of more than 1,000 mothers found that breastfeeding, whether solely or partially, had risen to 65 % over the past 30 years.

Mothers who have given birth within the past year are 30% more likely to breastfeed or expect to breastfeed for longer, between seven and 12 months, compared with women who gave birth in the past five years.

Regionally, Plymouth has the highest rate of breastfeeding among new mothers at 78%.

However, across the regions, 92 % of all mothers said they believed that breast milk was the healthiest way to feed their baby, with 47% saying they felt it was the easiest option for them.

The research also found that concern over breast-feeding in public was a growing barrier and that new mothers would breastfeed or would have breastfed more in public if it was more socially acceptable.

Vicki Scott, baby-feeding and well-being advisor to Philips Avent, said many women had been discouraged from breastfeeding because they lacked confidence.

She added: "After the war, breast-feeding went out of fashion and so women are not keen on it as their mums used a bottle instead. There is a struggle now for women to get their confidence back." Over the past year, there has been speculation about the benefits, including the possibility that it is linked to IQ.

Although this remains disputed, Miss Scott said that avoiding bottle-feeding babies can have lifelong benefits.

She said that, despite the convenience and benefits of breastfeeding, many women remained confused about whether it was the right option and said that clearer information for new mothers was needed.

She said: "Women are getting inconsistent advice and their support service is minimal. Once mums are discharged by midwives, which can be as early as 10 days after the birth, they can lose their nerve.

"Better support, consistent advice in the early days after giving birth, and a change in attitude to breastfeeding in public is still required to keep the numbers of women breastfeeding rising.

"Over the past 10 to 15 years, there has been a lot of good research into breastfeeding and it has taken time for this to filter through. Hopefully over the next 10 years, it will become much more accepted."

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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 19, 2007
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