Breast milk provides the ideal nutrition for infants in the first stages of life.
There is evidence that babies who are breast fed experience lower levels of gastro-intestinal and respiratory infection. Observational studies have shown that breastfeeding is associated with lower levels of child obesity.
Increases in breastfeeding are expected to reduce illness in young children, have health benefits for the infant and the mother, and result in cost savings to the NHS through reduced hospital admission for the treatment of infection in infants[i]
Key findings for Lancashire-14
Breastfeeding is a valid and important measure of public health and is included as an indicator in the public health outcomes framework.
In the Lancashire-14 area:
- In 2014/15, in the Lancashire-12 area (69.1%) and Blackpool (61.6%), the percentage of mothers who gave their babies breast milk in the first 48 hours after delivery was significantly worse than the England average (74.3%); whereas in Blackburn with Darwen (72.8%) this proportion was similar to the England average.
- In Ribble Valley (82.0%) the 2014/15 breastfeeding initiation rate is significantly better than the England average whereas in Lancaster (63.6%), Preston (65.9%), Wyre (67.7%), Chorley (69.6%), Rossendale (69.8%), Burnley (70.8%) and South Ribble (70.9%) it is significantly worse than the England average. The district-level breastfeeding initiation figures can be found on the Public Health Outcomes Framework.
- The recent trend indicates that breastfeeding initiation is getting better in Blackpool whilst no significant change is observed in Blackburn with Darwen; Lancashire-12 area's recent trend is not available due to missing values for one year.
- The 2014/15 and 2015/16 rates for breastfeeding prevalence at 6-8 weeks after birth are not available due to data quality reasons. However, the data that has been collated for breastfeeding prevalence can be found in the breastfeeding profiles.
Baby Friendly initiative
Lancashire's children's centres have recently been recognised with a prestigious award for the high standard of care provided to new mums and children. The centres, which are run by Lancashire County Council and the Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, have been awarded the Baby Friendly accreditation, part of the Baby Friendly initiative, set up by Unicef and the World Health Organization.
The award highlights the importance of breastfeeding and strengthening mother-baby and family relationships, with 94% of mothers saying they were happy with the service provided.
The Six Week Breastfeeding Challenge
In 2015, Lancashire County Council and Lancashire's Infant Feeding Partnership launched the Six Week Breastfeeding Challenge which provides mothers with information about breastfeeding, resources for help and support, and a web-based app to encourage those women who have made the decision to breastfeed to continue for at least the first six weeks. There is a wealth of evidence to suggest that providing mothers with this support and encouragement to help them overcome the initial difficulties experienced in the early stages of breastfeeding will help them to continue breastfeeding for longer.
Statement of Strategic Intent for Infant Feeding in Lancashire (2012)
The strategy sets out the following priorities and recommendations for commissioning effective, local, infant feeding support services. These are:
- Maternity services in both the hospital and community setting to gain the World Health Organization/UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative accreditation ‘Ten steps to successful breastfeeding’ and the ‘Seven Point Plan for sustaining breastfeeding in the community’.
- Peer, ‘mother to mother’ support programmes to be implemented alongside health professional care.
- Universities to gain UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative accreditation in pre-registration midwifery and post-registration health visiting programmes.
- Neonatal networks trained to implement effective breastfeeding support for sick and premature babies.
- Provision of ‘donor’ breast milk where a mother is unable to breastfeed her baby and including the most vulnerable such as premature babies, those in neonatal units and babies aged less than 6 months who are to be adopted.
- A robust and critical support service to filter harmful advertising and marketing of formula milks.
- Strategic leadership, local and regional, to implement evidence-based policy and practice, including those areas that impact on infant feeding practice such as where babies sleep.
- ‘Breastfeeding welcome’ employer, community and public spaces.
- Schools programmes that promote breastfeeding.
- Services that support women who are artificially feeding their babies to minimise the risks.
[i] Quigley, MA, Kelly, YJ & Sacker, A. Breastfeeding and Hospitalization for Diarrheal and Respiratory Infection in the United Kingdom Millennium Cohort Study. Pediatrics. April 2007, VOLUME 119 / ISSUE 4
Page updated March 2017