The importance of getting more mums to breast feed

Woman breastfeeding baby
Woman breastfeeding baby

In Hartlepool the breastfeeding rate is significantly lower than the England average.

In 2014/15 in the town, 505 infants (49.6%) were breastfed and 512 infants (51.4%) were artificially fed.

For Hartlepool to reach the England rate it would require an additional 250 infants per year, or about five per week, to be breastfed at birth.

Among the big benefits of breastfeeding for babies are reducing the risk of infections (so less visits to the doctor), reduced allergies such as eczema, reduced risk of diabetes, and less childhood leukaemia.

The benefits of breastfeeding to mothers include reduced risk of breast cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis.

There are only a few times when breastfeeding is not advisable: where mum is using or is dependent upon an illicit drug, has been infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), is taking antiretroviral medications, is taking prescribed cancer chemotherapy agents, or if the baby is diagnosed with galactosaemia, a very uncommon type of genetic metabolic disorder.

You should also think about giving up smoking (if you haven’t already during pregnancy) while breastfeeding as it too can cause problems. Research has shown that the nicotine a mother receives from smoking cigarettes will pass to the child through the breast milk itself.

It will also be harder for you to produce breast milk and another harmful effect is second hand smoke inhalation by your baby.

Some studies show babies breastfed by smoking and breastfeeding mothers who smoke have a higher risk for certain early infant disorders than babies who are breastfed by a non-smoking mother, and they might be up to 40 per cent more likely to become colicky in early infancy and just overall an irritable child – making that newborn stage that much harder!