Breastfeeding is very important to the health of our society. When breastfeeding, a mother is not just providing food for her child, she is also protecting her baby from infections, allergies, obesity and diabetes. She is protecting herself from breast cancer, ovarian cancer and heart disease.
Over 3,000 women die of cancer and heart disease every month in the UK. Improving breastfeeding rates could save thousands of lives.
- Breastfeeding can reduce a mother’s chances of diabetes by 55%.
- Breastfeeding can also reduce a mother’s chances of breast and ovarian cancer by between 10% and 20%.
- Every month of breastfeeding was found to be associated with a 4% decrease in risk of obesity later in life.
But despite all the proven health benefits, the UK has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world. According to Unicef 81% of new mothers in the UK start off breastfeeding but by 6 months this has fallen to just 34%, compared to 71% in Norway (which has some of the highest breastfeeding rates in the world).
Infant feeding and very early child development are global and national priorities, and primary areas of focus for the NHS and local partners. Improving breastfeeding rates is a key national driver in child health and is highlighted in numerous UK government policy documents.
Breastfeeding promotes good maternal mental health and mother-baby attachment. Attachment is the name given to the bond a baby makes with its caregivers. When you breastfeed, a hormone called oxytocin is released which helps you to fall in love with your baby. It also helps the uterus to contract down to its normal size and is a powerful antidepresant, so reduces the risk of postnatal depression.
The 1001 Critical Days cross party manifesto puts forward the moral, scientific and economic case for the importance of the conception to age 2 period. It highlights the longstanding evidence that a baby’s social and emotional development is affected by their attachment to their parents. The costs of poor attachment are high to both individuals and society.
The law now supports breastfeeding in public, but the Infant Feeding Survey carried out by the NHS in 2010 found that 45% of mothers who breastfed reported that they felt uncomfortable breastfeeding their baby in front of other people.
Discomfort was most acute in public places (43%), but for some it was also an issue in their own home (13%). Most of these mothers felt uncomfortable breastfeeding in front of male relatives or friends (73%) with others feeling uncomfortable in front of female relatives or friends (27%) or their doctor/GP (15%).
Both the NHS and UNICEF have identified embarrassment at breastfeeding in public as a major barrier to breastfeeding. Women often resort to feeding their babies out of sight - in another room, or even in a toilet or car - which excludes them from their friends and family. Women also resort to covering up with a scarf or breastfeeding cover which we feel is unnecessary and segregates women.
Breastfeeding is not easy and women need lots of support to breastfeed successfully. There are many barriers to breastfeeding but we feel that embarrassment needn't be one of them. The Bshirt is unique because it has been proven to increase women's confidence while breastfeeding:
- 83% of our customers surveyed felt more confident breastfeeding in front of other people when wearing their Bshirt.
- 94% of our customers surveyed agreed that breastfeeding is easier whilst wearing the Bshirt.
- 89% of customers surveyed said that the Bshirt was one of their favourite breastfeeding tops.
We believe that if more women could breastfeed confidently in public, then we could normalise breastfeeding, which would encourage more women to breastfeed more confidently, more comfortably and ultimately for longer. This would then allow the health benefits of breastfeeding to impact not only this generation of women and children, but for future generations to come.