New Parents Let Down By Government Cuts To Breastfeeding Support Services

Ellen Lees
By Ellen Lees,
updated on Feb 19, 2018

New Parents Let Down By Government Cuts To Breastfeeding Support Services

68 per cent of new parents believe the government does not provide enough funding for breastfeeding support.

A massive 93 per cent of new parents believe that breastfeeding mums should feel encouraged to breastfeed anywhere in public, yet 85 per cent believe there is a real stigma around it.

The survey conducted by The Baby Show, which returns to London’s ExCel in March, has revealed the data, which is thought to explain why rates of breastfeeding in the UK are among the worst in the world, despite 89 per cent of new parents having every intention of breastfeeding their new baby.

Some parents may be aware of the difficulties of trying to breastfeed, while others may not until they are faced with the difficulties themselves. In fact, of those asked, just one in three new mums said they found it easy.

As a result, the demand for breastfeeding support is overwhelming, with 84 per cent of new mums revealing they sought assistance.

What support is there?

The survey revealed the most common source of help for new parents was midwives, followed by an NHS lactation consultant or breastfeeding clinic, then a health visitor.

However, it appears it’s not the quality of care that needs improvement, rather availability. Of those new mums surveyed, 74 per cent described the help received from midwives as good or excellent, while 72 per cent rated NHS lactation clinics as good or excellent.


Photo by designhorf on Unsplash

The issue lies with accessibility, with more than a third of parents finding NHS breastfeeding counselling services not accessible enough, and 57 per cent saying they worry the government is closing down clinics as a means to cut costs.

50 per cent of new parents said the government should be investing in additional NHS breastfeeding clinics, with 49 per cent saying more should be invested in training health visitors.

Lactation Consultant and Breastfeeding Expert, Vanessa Christie says “The essential support that high-quality and accessible breastfeeding services provide for new families across the country have been systematically squeezed and disbanded in recent months and years.”

“I have worked with thousands of new families at the frontline and know first-hand how quickly and easily problems can spiral when the right support is not available,”

“Many councils and healthcare trusts claims that they are fully committed to supporting breastfeeding mothers" Christie explains. "However, in a bit to be more cost-effective, it is clear from their actions that they do not understand the unquestionable negative impact that giving lip service to breastfeeding services has on the health and wellbeing of mothers and babies.”

“On the contrary, it creates a situation where the demand on other services, such as GPs, A&E departments and mental health services only goes up and breastfeeding rates go down.”

The survey revealed that even in these progressive times, there is still a way to go before new mums can feel completely comfortable breastfeeding. An incredible 93 per cent of new parents believe that breastfeeding mums should feel free to do so anywhere in public, yet 85 per cent say that the stigma around it remains.

Hannah Michalak shares her breastfeeding story on her Youtube channel, Hannah Maggs.

“I was so mentally exhausted from the whole thing, I felt like it kind of stopped me, in a way, from bonding with him as much as I could have in those early weeks”

The Baby Show will be taking place from Friday 2 - Sunday 4 March at the ExCel London.

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