The UK isn't doing enough to help mums breastfeed successfully
Some women, especially with diabetes, are recommended to express milk while still pregnant and to save it for their newborn. But it’s not for everyone.
Hospitals sometimes recommend women express milk towards the end of their pregnancies. But it's not suitable for all.
Bottle or breast isn’t the only debate.
However mothers feed their babies, there is always some kind of criticism.
Family, friends and even strangers are judging pregnant women's and new mothers' behaviour.
Screening and sterilisation processes mean human breast milk can be safely collected and frozen for use at a later time.
Banked breast milk is a safe source of shared human milk, and can be a life-saver for very premature babies.
The bacteria in a mother's breast milk are important because it helps develop a baby's gut. Research shows this bacteria are different depending on where mothers live and what they eat.
Breast really best makes many mums feel bad.
The mode of delivery has a big impact on an infant’s microbiota, the bacteria that live in the gut.
The particular makeup of a newborn’s gut microbes is important as it has been shown to affect their risk of developing certain diseases later in childhood and adulthood.
Breastfeeding is a cultural taboo in the UK, and the prevalence of bottles in children's books doesn't help.
Current high rates of childhood obesity are the product of a perfect early-life storm.
Childhood obesity is increasing and is most common for children living in disadvantage. But it's preventable if we begin from the start of life.
There’s lots of advice on what mums can and can’t eat during pregnancy, but what about during breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding mothers often receive a variety of well-intentioned advice about what and what not to eat during this period. But what does the science say?
Modern women are expected to juggle work, homelife and motherhood, mostly by themselves.
Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock
The pressure on new mums can be overwhelming, but culturally they are expected to go it alone.
It’s not all sunshine and roses for some mums.
Negative breastfeeding experiences can make special drives to encourage it all too painful for some.
South Africa, despite its bold commitments to improve breastfeeding, does not have national data to monitor breastfeeding rates to ensure that its policies are being effective.
Breastfeeding norms vary around the world.
Is there anything wrong with breastfeeding children up to five or six?
Midwives commonly supervise feeds and interject when women do something “wrong”.
The most common complaint is conflicting advice, as well as staff who are "bossy, judgemental and inaccessible" and who undermine women's confidence.
A detail from Stanisław Wyspiański’s “Macierzynstwo” (1905).
What are we really talking about when we criticize women who breastfeed in public?
Modern debates around breastfeeding would be eerily familiar to someone from the 18th or 19th century.
The Fashionable Mamma, James Gillroy, 1796. The British Museum.
Regular controversies over breastfeeding might seem like a quirk of contemporary life. But 18th and 19th century clothing reveal that women have been handling the issue of visibility and practicality for centuries.
What are the hormones that cause cravings during pregnancy?
Multiple hormones produced by the mother, placenta and the foetus drive and coordinate the amazing biological changes and development of the baby that occur with conception, foetal growth and birth.
I don’t want to change public attitudes. I just want to feed my baby.
Breastfeeding rates in the UK are among the lowest in the world. What can we do to improve them? Stop shaming women, might be a good start.