While NHS England is unable to provide the full data for all maternity providers and infants and publish a final figure, the available data for 2013/14 shows that:
- 75% of women initiated breastfeeding immediately after giving birth in keeping with figures from previous years. In 2012/13, the figure was 73.9%. In 2011/12, 74.0% women initiated breastfeeding.
At 6-8 weeks, based on the available data:
- 51% of women were either exclusively or partially breastfeeding their baby. This is a slight increase from 47.2% in 2012/13
- Of those women breastfeeding at 6-8 weeks, 34.9% totally breastfed and 16.2% partially breastfed their baby, from 32.3% and 14.9% in 2012/13 respectively.
A YouGov survey carried out on behalf of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service in June found that while 63% of women said they had received information and support on breastfeeding, fewer than a quarter felt they had received the same for bottlefeeding. Recent research by the Royal College of Midwives concluded that while there was room for improvement in supporting breastfeeding, there was an urgent need to improve the situation for mothers who choose to bottlefeed. A minority of midwives surveyed thought there was usually enough time and resources to help women with formula feeding, and three-quarters of mothers who chose to feed their baby this way did not feel they were given enough information.1
Clare Murphy, Director of External Affairs at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said:
“This data shows that while the majority of women start breastfeeding, around a third are doing so exclusively by 6-8 weeks. It’s extremely important that women who want to breastfeed exclusively are given all the support they need to continue. But it’s equally important that women who decide to bottlefeed are also supported. Around two thirds of women will be using formula milk either entirely or in addition to breastfeeding by 6-8 weeks. Women know there are health benefits attached to breastfeeding, but there may also be other issues that are important to them in the context of their own personal circumstances. Ultimately women themselves are the ones best placed to judge whether breast, bottle or both is right for them and their baby. Their choices should be respected.”
1 RCM, Infant Feeding: Supporting parent choice, 2014
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Notes to Editors:
- The full data set released by NHS England is available here and shows the number and proportion of mothers’ who have initiated or not initiated breastfeeding and the number and proportion of infants who have been fully, partially or not at all breastfed at 6-8 weeks
- NHS England were unable to release the full data due to lack of completion. For breastfeeding initiation, data was available for 92% of maternity providers. At 6-8 weeks, data was available for 89.6% of infants.
- As the data did not reach 95% completeness, NHS England were unable to publish the full breastfeeding intiation and prevalence figures for 2013/14. All the figures quoted in this release are taken from the available data.
- bpas have produced information about the benefits of breastfeeding, What happens if you don’t breastfeed your baby?, available here.