Academic launches prize to celebrate breastfeeding supporters

A Swansea University academic is launching a prize to celebrate those who support mums to breastfeed to mark this year’s National Breastfeeding Week.

The theme of this year’s National Breastfeeding in England and Wales is breastfeeding support and in response to this, Dr Amy Brown of the College of Human and Health Sciences has launched a prize recognising these champions.

Dr Brown said: ‘This prize recognizes the role many individuals play in helping to support breastfeeding, whether they are in a paid role, a family member of friend, or a wider part of the community.  It aims to recognise how important their support is and to highlight just how vital it is to support breastfeeding mums, both practically and emotionally to help them meet their breastfeeding goals. So if someone has helped you or your partner to breastfeed you can nominate them for the ‘Breastfeeding Uncovered Prize’.

The winner will receive a £50 book token from publishers Pinter & Martin, whilst two runners up will receive a £25 voucher each. All those shortlisted will receive a letter thanking them for their support. Individuals can be nominated for the prize, explaining how they have helped you and the impact this had. Entries close on 18th July 2017.

Dr Brown’s research has found that while breastfeeding might be natural, it doesn’t always make it easy and mothers that have the most support are most likely to both start and continue breastfeeding.

Dr Brown said: ‘Breastfeeding support can come from a variety of sources and is a far wider concept than just help with how to breastfeed your baby. Practical support from trained practitioners is vital to supporting breastfeeding but mothers need emotional support too, and also need to feel confident and accepted in their decision to breastfeed. This support often comes from those who don’t have professional health qualifications or who are supporting mums in a voluntary role.

In the UK, the importance of breastfeeding support is vital. Although over 80% of women start breastfeeding, by the end of the first week over half of babies have had at least some formula milk and by 6 months two thirds of mothers aren’t breastfeeding at all, meaning our breastfeeding rates are far lower than other countries.  Many of women who stop were not ready to do so and feel angry and distressed at having to. 

Dr Brown said: ‘We need to understand why UK women are having such difficulty. Although many people see breastfeeding as something that is a biological function that should be straightforward, women’s experiences of breastfeeding really matter.

‘Lots of research has shown that women’s ability to breastfeeding is affected by many things including the attitudes of other people, reactions she might get in public and family not supporting her choice. The attitude of her partner can be particularly important’

‘It is vital that women get good support for breastfeeding and that doesn’t just mean helping her practically to breastfeed. People can help a new mother even it they know nothing at all about breastfeeding by simply taking care of her, boosting her confidence by telling her she is doing a good job and being an advocate if she has any difficulties. How confident and supported a woman feels is really important to her ability to succeed at breastfeeding and you can play a key role in this’.

To learn more about how you can support a breastfeeding mum, watch Dr Brown’s animation here