Midwives have welcomed a new study which suggests that more mothers are breastfeeding their babies.
In 2010, 81% of mothers in the UK started breastfeeding their babies when they were born, researchers said. This was compared with 76% of new mothers in 2005.
According to the study, many women are also breastfeeding for longer. One in three mothers was still breastfeeding their child at the age of six months, the figures showed.
The Royal College of Midwives welcomed the report but warned that there was still “room for improvement” among groups with lower breastfeeding rates, and those who tend to breastfeed for shorter durations.
Just 1% of mothers breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of their baby’s life, the study showed.
RCM director for midwifery Louise Silverton called for a “sea-change” in attitudes to make breastfeeding in public more acceptable.
She added: “We are concerned that, due to staff shortages, women may not be getting the postnatal support they need from midwives whilst they establish breastfeeding in the early days after birth, due to a lack of time and resources for midwives to spend with women.”
The latest findings have been published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre. Chief executive Tim Straughan said: “Not only are more mothers initially breastfeeding at the time of their baby’s birth, more of them are continuing to breastfeed for longer, which has known benefits to a child’s long-term health.”