Breastfeeding a baby can be one of the most rewarding – and challenging – experiences of being a mother.

More than 73 per cent of women choose to start breastfeeding their babies in the UK and the health benefits for mother and baby are increasingly well-known.

The week of June 20th 2016 was UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative Breastfeeding Awareness Week, and we are #CelebratingBreastfeeding. As a service which is working towards full UNICEF ‘Baby Friendly’ accreditation – and whose commitment to supporting breastfeeding was recognised by our recent Stage Two accreditation It’s something the trust’s health visitors do every day.

Banbury health visitor team leader and Baby Friendly project lead Sian Taylor said: “Breastfeeding is something that only a mum can do for her baby. We talk a lot about the problems women have with getting feeding started – but not all mums do have difficulties. For many it’s very natural and rewarding for both mum and baby. This isn’t always the case and, for other mums, like with any new skill, it takes practice, trial and error alongside expert help and support which is where we come in.

“Health visitors work to ensure mothers and babies receive high quality support around breastfeeding.

“At the new birth visit all mums have a feeding assessment. All health visitors across the county have done training so that they have the expertise to support where there are problems. We can point families to breastfeeding support and social groups where they can share and learn from other mums.

“There’s also plenty fathers and partners can do to support breastfeeding mothers so it’s important we help the whole family understand how they can play a part in feeding baby.

“Breast milk is a completely free wonder food. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months of a baby’s life – and it continues to offer health benefits for at least the first two years alongside family food.

“Even one breastfeed will be good for the baby – but the more milk a baby has the greater the benefits for both mum and baby.”

Why breastfeed:

  • Breast milk is perfectly designed for babies.
  • Breast milk protects babies from infections and diseases – including respiratory, ear and gut infection, diabetes, allergies, cot death, childhood cancer and heart disease.
  • Breastfeeding provides health benefits for mothers – including protection from breast and ovarian cancer and hip fracture. And it uses around 500 calories a day.
  • Breast milk is free. It’s available for babies whenever they need it – meaning that night feeds and feeding away from home is easier.
  • Breastfeeding can help to develop the strong emotional bond between mothers and their babies.
  • Breastfeeding is good for the environment – there is no packaging or environmental impact from manufacturing or transport.