Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health: Position Statement on breastfeeding in the UK

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, August 2017

This reportBaby's Healthcare highlights that the UK has one of the lowest rates of breastfeeding in Europe, and only 34% of babies are receiving some breast milk at 6 months. Recommendations include development of a national strategy to change negative societal attitudes to breastfeeding

Skin-to-skin contact improves breastfeeding of healthy babies

Early skin-to-skin contact improves breastfeeding of healthy full-term babies. | National Institute for Health Research

Skin-to-skin contact is the direct contact between a naked baby and the mother’s bare chest. It can occur before or after the baby is cleaned following birth.

This review found that about a quarter more women who have this contact with their babies are still breastfeeding at one to four months after birth compared with those who don’t. The evidence that skin-to-skin contact may also help to stabilise the baby’s heart and breathing rates and blood sugar levels after birth was based on fewer trials and less strong.

These findings support UK good practice to promote immediate skin-to-skin contact after birth to improve breastfeeding rates. It remains one of the important steps recommended by NICE and UNICEF aimed at improving the low rates of breastfeeding in the UK. Other measures include providing a favourable environment, support and education.

Full reference: Moore ER, Bergman N, Anderson GC, Medley N. Early skin-to-skin contact for mothers and their healthy newborn infants. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016;11:CD003519.

New resource to reduce barriers to breastfeeding

Public Health England (PHE) and NHS England have conducted a survey which found that of the three-quarters of the new mums who start breastfeeding, only 40% were still breastfeeding two months later.

To help dispel some of the concerns women have about breastfeeding, PHE’s Start4 life programme has launched a new interactive Breastfeeding Friend (BFF) ChatBot. The BFF can be accessed through Facebook messenger and provides personal support for mothers at any time of the day or night. The ChatBot works as a live chat tool which is able to respond to questions about breastfeeding posed by the user.

Read more on this at Public Health England

Early Solid Food Introduction: Role in Food Allergy Prevention and Implications for Breastfeeding

Abrams, E.M. et al. The Journal of Pediatrics | Published online: 3 March 2017

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Food allergy is estimated to affect 2%-10% of the population worldwide.1 The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported an increase in food allergy prevalence in the US from 3.4% to 5.1% between 1997 and 2011.2 As a result, the focus in food allergy research has shifted from treatment to prevention

Read the abstract here

Application of the EBP Process: Maximizing Lactation Support with Minimal Education

Ullman, F.M. et al. Journal of Pediatric Nursing. Published online: 26 January 2017

The many advantages to providing breast milk instead of engineered infant formula for both the medically fragile and healthy term infant are well documented (Lawrence & Lawrence, 2016; Mcguire, 2011). Historically, educational efforts within neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) focused on critical diseases and conditions, as well as the highly technological management of fragile neonates. The International push to promote both the value and superiority of breast milk for infant feeding began over 3 decades ago (WHO, 1981).

Read the abstract here

UK breastfeeding trends

The World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative UK Working Group has published World Breastfeeding Trends UK Report 2016.

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Image source: ukbreastfeeding.org

The report provides information on breastfeeding trends in the four countries of the UK. The review finds that there are good infant feeding policies and programmes in place, but that these are scattered.

England in particular is lacking in leadership and has support services that have declined in recent years.  The report includes a ‘scorecard’ for each UK country, rating them out of 10 on a variety of indicators.

Additional link: RCPCH press release

Traumatic breastfeeding experiences are the reason we must continue to promote it

Brown, A. The Conversation. Published online: 5 August 2016

breastfeeding-7Britain has ended up in a situation where, despite the known health and economic benefits of breastfeeding, rates are abysmal. In fact they’re the lowest in the world. More importantly, 80% of mothers who stop breastfeeding in the first six weeks are not ready to do so, and stop because breastfeeding has become seemingly impossible for them.

Breastfeeding should not be so difficult for so many and should only be impossible for a very, very small minority of mothers. However, while society appears to promote breastfeeding, there are actually numerous barriers ranging from formula milk adverts to a lack of community support, that ultimately make breastfeeding feel impossible.

Rather than protecting breastfeeding, the government doesn’t invest properly in the services, support and expertise that would actually enable mothers to breastfeed – despite reports finding it could actually save the NHS money. Instead, cuts to services take away essential volunteer groups and funding of breastfeeding specialists. What should be an easily fixable issue gets turned into months of suffering.

Though no longer allowed to advertise to mothers of babies under six months, the multi-billion formula milk industry still dominates. Some might argue that the world doesn’t need a week celebrating breastfeeding but in reality, every week is world formula feeding week.

Read the full article here