Breast is best, say county council health bosses

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Herts County Council health bosses are showing support for World Breastfeeding Week by encouraging mums to give it a go.

As documented in the press, new mothers can face a dilemma about whether or not to breastfeed in public but the law supports a woman’s choice to do so and Herts County Council says it backs this.

Teresa Heritage, Herts County Council’s cabinet member for public health, localism and libraries, said: “There is a great deal of support in Hertfordshire to provide new mums with the help they need to make the right choice for them and baby at what can be a very vulnerable time.

“Breastfeeding rates are increasing in the UK but there is still a long way to go; 81 per cent of babies are breastfed at birth, but by one week this has fallen to 69 per cent and after six months it is around a third.

“We want to give new mums the confidence and support they need to breastfeed if they wish, and to continue breastfeeding for as long as is right for them and their baby.”

Research has shown that breastfeeding has significant health benefits for both mum and baby.

It can support the healthy development of the child’s gut and immune system, reducing the risk of illness. And mum benefits too, with reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer, diabetes and obesity.

Breastfeeding also helps to develop the bond between mum and baby, as cuddling and talking to your child whilst breastfeeding supports a child’s growing sense of security.

Elaine Smith, a health visitor and infant feeding co-ordinator, said: “Mum’s milk is the best form of nutrition for infants and it is recommended that a baby has breastmilk for the first six months of its life.

“In Hertfordshire, we have a baby-friendly initiative in place in which health visitors offer specialist feeding and infant relationship support during pregnancy and after the baby has arrived.

“We work closely with GPs and children’s centres to support mums to make good decisions about their child’s changing needs as the child grows and develops.”

A new Hertfordshire mum said: “My children’s centre has been very supportive, the ladies are very non-judgmental.

“On day eight today - I would have had to give up breastfeeding if it wasn’t for the support of the daily groups, because I was struggling with my baby latching on.

“Thank you so much.”

For more information about the support available in your local children’s centre and a list of local breastfeeding support groups, {http://www.hertsdirect.org/services/edlearn/css/childrenscentres/breasfeedingsup/ please visit the website here.}

For further information about other health initiatives in Hertfordshire, including free vitamins for pregnant women and breastfeeding mums, please visit the website here.