Author(s): Berridge K, McFadden K, Abayomi J, Topping J
Breast-milk is the optimum form of nutrition for the first 6 months of life. However, breastfeeding rates in the UK are low and static compared to other European countries and those in the North-west of England in the UK are even lower. Of the women who initiate breastfeeding, many cease in the first month following the birth for reasons that might be avoided. To try and prevent this, UNICEF Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) 'Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding' state that maternity facilities should foster the development of support groups for breastfeeding women. The aim of the present study was to describe breastfeeding difficulties reported by women who attended the infant feeding clinic at a Women's Hospital in the North-west of England. During the study period, the clinic was attended mainly by primiparous mothers who were educated beyond 18 years of age and of higher socio-economic status. They presented with a variety of problems including baby not latching on, concerns about baby's weight gain/loss, sore nipples and advice about expressing milk in preparation for return to work. The women highlighted the importance of meeting other mothers and having someone to talk to who understood what they were going through. Inconsistent information/lack of detailed knowledge from health professionals was cited as contributing to breastfeeding difficulties. A number of women reported that expert hands-on, one-to-one support, was invaluable and many felt they were able to continue breastfeeding but without the support, they may have given up.