A project by just one charity has helped to boost breastfeeding in UK hospitals by more than 10%.
The news comes just days after experts criticised NHS campaigns for failing to reach disadvantaged women.
The children’s charity Unicef launched the project to reconcile the problem that babies who are not breastfed are far more likely to need treatment for infections including gastroenteritis.
The charity launched a UK Baby Friendly Initiative, and has seen an average of 70.6% of babies breastfed at birth in the accredited hospitals, compared to 60% in the same units four years before.
Between 40% and 60% of UK babies are breastfed on average but this rate has not changed over 15 years of monitoring.
Some of the best increases under the Baby Friendly initiative were found in hospitals in inner city and deprived areas, which usually have very low breastfeeding rates, sometimes in single figures.
Some hospitals showed particularly high increases:
- Queens Park Hospital, Blackburn, from 27% in 1991 to 66% now
- Ulster Hospital, Belfast, from 29% in 1995 to 55% now
- Royal Surrey Hospital, Guildford, from 74% in 1995 to 86% now.
To gain accreditation, hospitals need to meet standards that include staff trained in helping mothers breastfeed, showing how to express breastmilk and the way in which formula milk is presented.
To learn more about the scheme, visit Unicef’s Baby Friendly website.