Breastfeeding position statement
The College is delighted to launch our new online resource on breastfeeding which will hopefully assist those caring for mothers and babies to have the skills and knowledge to ensure best practice around breastfeeding. The RCGP strongly supports breastfeeding as the optimum form of nutrition for babies and its benefits are highlighted in our position statement below.
The RCGP strongly supports breastfeeding as the optimum form of nutrition for babies as it significantly contributes to the health of both the mother and child in the short and longer term. Breastfeeding reduces the baby's risk of infections, diarrhoea and vomiting, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), childhood leukaemia, type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease in adulthood. In addition, breastfeeding lowers the mother's risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and obesity. Breastfeeding also has broader economic, environmental and social benefits.
Mothers need to be aware of these benefits and be encouraged and supported to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months and to continue breastfeeding whilst introducing appropriate additional foods beyond six months. Women should be supported to feel confident and comfortable to breastfeed, wherever their baby needs to be fed.
Some women may be unable or choose not to breastfeed; this should be respected and appropriate support and education on infant feeding provided. Good quality training is crucial to ensure that those involved with caring for and supporting mothers and babies have the skills and knowledge to ensure best practice around breastfeeding is implemented.