Your health:

Breast is best this week!

Laura Johnson
It's Breast-Feeding Awareness Week and events are taking place around Britain to help mums to choose the natural way to feed their children.

One English city has won international recognition for being a baby friendly place. It's Bristol and this Sunday is definitely going to be interesting there.
There's been controversy about the week because the British government stopped funding it - but campaigners have managed to cobble together funding.

And local health services seem as committed as ever, according to our researches.

Indeed official figures published yesterday show British babies have enjoyed a massive increase in breast-feeding rates in the last two decades.

Some 80 per cent of women now breast-feed their babies after birth, the figures show. This compared with just 60 per cent in 1990.

Within the UK the highest rates of breast-feeding are found in England where 83 per cent of new mothers did it last year - compared with 78 per cent in 2005.

There were smaller increases in Wales and Scotland and none in Northern Ireland during the period. In Scotland some 74 per cent of babies were breast-fed while in Wales it was 71 per cent.

The progress was welcomed by campaigning groups.

Jane Munro, of the Royal College of Midwives, said more information is needed on how long women carry on breast-feeding for.

She said: "The increase in the number of women starting to breastfeed and the reduction in smoking before and during pregnancy is good news for the health of the nation.

"It is a clear indication of the success of campaigning on public health in these areas."

And Rosie Dodds, of the National Childbirth Trust, said it was "great news".

She added: "Across the UK four fifths of new mothers plan to breastfeed; we don't yet know how many are enabled to continue. This data will not be available until next year, when it will be clearer whether mothers are actually getting the support they need to breastfeed.

"We do know from previous surveys most find that they have to stop breastfeeding before they want to because they do not get the help they need."

* Britain's most baby friendly city will be marking the awareness week with a public gathering on Sunday.

Bristol is hoping that hundreds of mothers will gather for the event in the city's Anchor Square.

The city is the first UNICEF baby friendly city in the UK - and many premises make a point of welcoming breast-feeding mothers.

* In central Lancashire the Little Angels project has been recruited to work with new mothers.

Peer support workers will be working with new mothers on maternity wards and after they return home to encourage them with breast-feeding in the area which includes Ormskirk and Preston.

Liz Petch, of NHS Central Lancashire, said: "We want all women and their families to feel comfortable and confident about breastfeeding their babies, whether they are at home or out and about.

"Breastfeeding is natural and the healthiest way for babies to be fed. It is good for mum's health too."

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