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Supporting breastfeeding

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Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for six months by the World Health Organisation. However, the UK has one of the lowest rates of breastfeeding worldwide. This is particularly apparent among disadvantaged young Caucasian women and first-time mothers.1

Antenatal breastfeeding education and peer support programmes are likley to increase initiation rates as well as increase the length of time that women breastfeed for. Duration of breastfeeding can be improved by support from healthcare professionals in the early postnatal period. Evidence has shown that breastfeeding may be important in preventing disease in both mother and child.1

Whether or not a woman breastfeeds is known to be influenced by healthcare professionals, a woman's family and friends, as well as any problems associated with feeding.1 Practical support, ease of breastfeeding in public and acceptability of feeding formula milk relative to breastfeeding all exert influence on a woman's decision to breastfeed or not.1

Peer and/or professional support is vital and should be offered to all women.

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