10 tips for supporting breastfeeding

Dump the baby care books – feed your baby when baby wants feeding...

1. Teach mums, and those around them how normal it is for breastfed babies to feed frequently and how this is necessary to build up a mother’s milk supply.

2. Tell all new parents and those around them about normal baby sleep and support them in other ways to get more rest.

3. Tell parents and those around them about normal patterns of weight loss and weight gain in breastfed babies, and why this doesn’t mean that they are underweight or aren’t getting enough milk.

4. Be more aware of how experiences during childbirth and the early days may affect breastfeeding. Invest in maternity units to give staff more time with mothers to help reduce interventions during birth, and ultimately increase breastfeeding rates. The more baby-friendly practices a hospital adopts, the better its breastfeeding rates.


5. Invest in expert support services for all breastfeeding mums right from the start of breastfeeding and for as long as they need.

6. Support new mothers to feed, don’t abandon them to juggle everything. Educate dads to be the breastfeeding supporters they can be.

7. Bin all the rubbish baby care books. Cuddle your baby. Feed it when it wants feeding.

8. Stop this ridiculous body image pressure on new mothers and come to terms with our own illogical sensitivities and prejudices about human milk and the female body.

9. Support employers to be breastfeeding friendly and educate the public on all of the above.

10. Regulate products such as those that claim to measure your milk supply, which are designed to create anxiety in new mums. Crack down on formula milk brand advertising and prevent formula milk products from access to professionals and parents.

What’s a culture that doesn’t support breastfeeding?

- Your mother tells you that she fed you every four hours and you are fine.

- Your mother-in-law insists on holding the baby a little longer and not giving him back.

- Your partner wants to bond with the baby and sees feeding as the only way.

- You buy a book that tells you when babies should be fed (and it’s not now).

- You feel so exhausted your health visitor suggests your partner does a feed.

- A mum at the baby clinic asks if your milk is enough because he’s feeding so much.

- Strangers in public stare and comment when you feed your baby.

- A difficult labour meant that you were exhausted and sore.

- Society insisted you needed to “get your life back” by being out and about.

- Your employment contract or pay meant that you had to be back at work

- Your friends without children want you to go out for a “break from the baby”.

- Formula adverts continually talk about moving on from breastfeeding.

What’s a culture that supports breastfeeding?

- Rather than wanting to feed the baby himself, dad cooks a lovely meal for everyone, which kind of feeds the baby anyway.

- Your mother passes the baby back to you and makes you a cup of tea (with biscuits).

- Society just gets on with their coffee, cake and gossip and doesn’t even notice a mother breastfeeding her baby as it’s so normal.

- Friends come round to the house, tidy up a bit and hold the sleeping baby for you while you have a moment hands-free.

- Someone writes a parenting manual that simply says ‘Feed and cuddle your baby whenever you both want, the end’.

Adapted from Breastfeeding Uncovered: who really decides who feeds our babies? By Dr Amy Brown (Pinter and Martin)