Public Health England is launching a campaign to improve breastfeeding rates. Less than 44% of women in England breastfeed once their baby reaches two months old.
Public Health England (PHE) has introduced the ‘Start4Life Breastfeeding Friend’ (BFF). This is a new interactive tool (chatbot) to help guide new mums through their first weeks of breastfeeding.
New Chatbot Through Facebook
The chatbot, which can be accessed through Facebook messenger, works as a live chat tool via one-to-one messaging and push notifications. BFF gives mums 24/7 access to expert NHS-trusted advice in a friendly and familiar way. It provides clarity around breastfeeding barriers, which are often misconceptions, and helping to alleviate any concerns mums may have.
The Start4Life Breastfeeding Friend is a great tool for mums in the North East who are looking for help and advice about breastfeeding. Support can make a real difference for a successful breastfeeding experience, and building a network of mums who can share tips and advice is very beneficial, as well as being a great source of information. We also recommend attending local breastfeeding groups for mothers who may require more help and support to support them on their journey. Beverley Oliver, Health and Wellbeing Programme Lead at PHE North East
Less than 44% of women in England are breastfeeding once their baby reaches two months old. This is despite the fact that three quarters (73%) of women begin doing so when their baby is born.
The breastfeeding rates suggest that many women who start breastfeeding feel that they cannot continue beyond 6-8 weeks. Evidence has shown that getting the right support enables mums to breastfeed for longer.
While mother’s milk contains all the nutrients a baby needs, a poll of 500 mothers of young children, by Public Health England showed that more than half were concerned if their baby was getting too much or not enough milk. A similar proportion of mums surveyed think they need a special diet to breastfeed. Nearly 3 in 10 worried their baby might not be getting the right nutrients, indicating why mothers may stop breastfeeding at this early point.
Public Health England Recommendations
Public Health England recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. Breastfeeding helps with babies’ brain development and passes on the mother’s immune defences. It also provides protection against infections, and benefits mums by protecting against some cancers and burning around 500 calories a day.
Breastfeeding, while natural, is something that all mums and their babies learn by doing. Mums tell us that after the first few weeks breastfeeding becomes easier, so proper support is crucial at this time, which is where our ‘bot’ is designed to help. Supporting breastfeeding needs to be part of our culture. We can all help to create a societal support system so that breastfeeding becomes easier for mums everywhere. Viv Bennett, Chief Nurse at Public Health England
For more information, advice and tips on breastfeeding visit: www.nhs.uk/start4life/
To start a chat with the Start4Life BreastFeeding Friend: