Maternity units not teaching mothers to breastfeed

Britain has one of the lowest levels of breastfeeding

Maternity units stand accused by Unicef of failing to teach new mothers how to breastfeed.

As a result, more than half of mothers give up breastfeeding before their babies are six weeks old, giving Britain one of the worst records in the world.

A new report by the charity says that less that 2 per cent of British mothers feed their babies exclusively on breastmilk until they are six months old, as recommended by the World Health Organisation.

Unicef says that nine out of 10 hospitals fail to adequately support new mothers in breastfeeding because staff lack basic knowledge.

Britain remains at the bottom of European tables, with a quarter of mothers here bottlefeeding their babies from the day they are born. In Norway, 99 per cent of mothers breastfeed from day one, according to the Times.

The government has spent millions on campaigns to promote breastfeeding, and 85 per cent of women know the health advantages for the baby, including reduced incidence of childhood gastroenteritis, asthma, diabetes and obesity.

Unicef is calling for better training in maternity units to teach mothers to breastfeed correctly, preventing pain and soreness and the milk supply drying up.

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