UK doctors urge breastfeeding classes01/08/17Education
Schoolchildren should be taught about the importance of breastfeeding, doctors from the Royal College London, UK, say.
The UK has one of the lowest rates of the practice in Europe, where a third of babies receive breast milk at the age of six months.
Professor Neena Modi, the Royal College’s president, said too few babies were being breastfed and it was up to the government, families and schools to get the country out of a “blackspot”.
They say that breastfeeding in public is still “often stigmatised”. The Royal College recommends the subject is covered in personal, social and health education (PSHE) classes.
They advise that mothers should be encouraged and supported in breastfeeding exclusively for up to six months, with solid food introduced alongside breastfeeding thereafter.
Modi added that children need to understand more about breastfeeding, starting with exposure to family members initiating such practices in order for it to be recognised as normal and natural. She further added that schools should inform children of evidence that supports breastfeeding as beneficial to health.
Parenting blogger Mother Pukka – Anna Whitehouse – said that she was not uncomfortable breastfeeding in public, but could understand those who are. She said: “We’re not educated that it’s a normal thing – it’s not in biology classes.”
In a separate survey of 1,030 mothers with children under five, the most common reason why breastfeeding stopped was that the baby wasn’t latching on to the breast properly (56%).
Moreover, nearly three-quarters agreed with the statement that there was too much emphasis on telling women why they should breastfeed, and not enough on supporting them to do it.
The Royal College points to Unicef research which concludes that even moderate increases in breastfeeding could save the NHS up to £40m (~€45m) a year through fewer GP consultations and hospital admissions.