BREASTFEEDING rates in St Helens remain among the lowest in the country – but a group of local mums are on a mission to change that.
Figures show just 22 per cent of mothers in St Helens are still breastfeeding at six to eight weeks, significantly below the regional figure of 33 per cent and national average of 47 per cent.
The ‘natural’ way to feed is encouraged by the NHS to help boost a baby’s immunity and protect against disease later in life.
However local rates are low compared to other towns and cities. Cultural reasons – including daughters following the pattern of how their mothers fed – are believed to be behind the low numbers.
Now mums, along with the St Helens breastfeeding support team, will share their experiences and explain why they believe breast is best at a roadshow in the Hardshaw Centre on Thursday, March 6, from 10am to 2pm.
It will showcase the local support available for mums who feed their babies themselves and give people the opportunity to share experiences.
St Helens Council’s director of public health, Liz Gaulton said: “St Helens has a low uptake of breastfeeding, with only one in four local mums breastfeeding their babies at six weeks.
“Increasing rates will make a huge impact on the health and well-being of our community. It’s up to us to encourage a shift in attitudes and make breastfeeding the norm.
“Breastfeeding has many benefits for both mums and their babies.
“It boosts a baby’s immune system, protecting them from illnesses and diseases such as ear and chest infections and gastroenteritis.
“It also reduces the chance of illnesses later in life such as obesity and diabetes.”
The NHS says there are also benefits for mums, with breastfeeding protecting them from breast cancer, weak bones in later life and ovarian cancer.
The campaign website amazingbreastmilk.com is being launched, incorporating a search tool for nearest breastfeeding friendly venue or local breastfeeding support group.
For more information contact St Helens breastfeeding support workers on 0300 300 0103.