Breastfeeding Rates

I constantly see and hear things about breastfeeding rates in the UK being low. There are continuous campaigns to encourage mums to breastfeed their babies, highlighting all the benefits over bottle feeding. Often this is rammed down mothers throats and those that choose not to breastfeed or are unable to are made to feel inadequate. I touch on this issue more in “Your baby, your choice“.

Having now breastfed four babies I can say that breastfeeding is a partnership between mother and baby and all mums and babies approach it differently.

My youngest is an expert breastfeeder and he knows exactly what he wants and when. We try and work as a team and we rarely get to the point where he is crying for food, when he starts chewing his fist, I feed him. That works for us.

I can totally appreciate why some mums stop breastfeeding so soon after the birth of their babies. After attending a routine weigh-in with the health visitor recently, I can understand how mums can be made to feel uncertain and question their approach. Our regular health visitor was on holiday so we were met by her stand in – an older lady who peered at me over her glasses as she called “number 18!”

I stripped a happy, giggly baby off and popped him in the scales. He had gained weight since he was last weighed two weeks ago. However, after plotting his weight on her chart she informed me in a condescending tone that his weight had dipped slightly below the line he was following.

After asking me if I was breastfeeding, she then immediately asked me if I had considered topping him up with formula. Erm…no I had not, I thought we were doing perfectly fine thank you very much. I could feel myself becoming defensive.

She then proceeded in trying her best to convince me I was doing something wrong, telling me I needed to look out for the feeding cues. I let her dig herself a hole before telling her he was my forth baby and I was quite capable of noticing when he was hungry! She continued…”I think we need to get you to the breastfeeding support group ASAP!”

Seriously! It’s no wonder breastfeeding rates are low with busy bodies like her!

I have since made a complaint as I feel quite strongly that someone less confident about breastfeeding or perhaps a first time mum could be easily put off by this woman.


  1. Unbelievable! I received some horrendously contradictory advice from health visitors. I am a first time mum and really struggled with breastfeeding to start off with. I figured out in the end that my little ones weight would vary so much depending on how recently I had fed him. I got into a habit of feeding him in the cafe round the corner from the HV, then literally running from the cafe to the HV with him in the buggy before he had time to digest the milk and either wee or poo. A wee or god forbid a poo could be the difference between the 75th and the 25th percentile. It was crazy and very stressful and certainly not the atmosphere in which to encourage breastfeeding. Well done for standing up to the HV. As a first time mum I don’t think i’d have had the courage to do that. X

    1. Sadly, I know mums who felt they had to do the same. It is terrible that we are made to think like this. Thank you so much for reading and sharing your experience. x

  2. Well said! Being a breastfeeding first time mum I relied heavily on advice from health visitors and sadly I was met with conflicting advice and often felt judged. I later learned who’s advice I trusted and I would avoid certain HVs.. x

    1. Good for you – suss out who is on the same wave of thinking as you and you who trust, it it so important. It is hard enough isn’t it?

  3. I’ve went through all of this drama with health visitors after my first baby. I got the threat of a visit to the pediatrician if she dropped slightly before the next weigh in! Absolutely ridiculous when I could see she was a happy, thriving baby. In those first, wobbly weeks, one comment would be enough to knock your confidence. They focus too much on the paperwork and graphs and in my experience the actual baby barely gets a look in!

  4. Oh this post just hit me. I’m in bed with a 5 day old sleeping next to me. The midwife or health worker is visiting tomorrow to weigh the baby at 6 days old and they felt me feel so utterly horrible on their last visit. I’m a qualified nurse but a first time mum and they made me feel like I just wasn’t feeding him properly and I have till tomorrow to get him to put weight on. The pressure, the emotions, the hormones. It’s no wonder people don’t want to give it a go … I’m hoping to find a support group next week to perk me up a bit as I desperately want to solely BF him

    1. Oh gosh Ceri is sounds like you are having a rough time. Stand your ground and don’t be pushed around. Your baby, your choice. Keep going, you are doing great x

  5. Health visitors – and even doctors! know very little about breastfeeding. I’ve also breastfed several babies and like you been through the mill, with my second I was told by a doctor that if I was having to breastfeed more often than every 4 hours then I didn’t have enough milk… this was after they weighed my baby on a scale balanced on a BED… converted into pounds and ounces and rounded down! Then several weeks later I was having trouble with him screaming a lot during feeds and I called the health visitor desperate for some advice, well I didn’t get a call for a WEEK and when she did call she said she was surprised that I was still breastfeeding. Only reason I persevered was that he was my second and I knew where to go online for support…. had I been a first time mum I would have probably gone running to the formula.

    1. Well done for carrying on – like you say if it had been the first time round it might not have been so easy. We shouldn’t have to battle this should we?

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