Midwife scandalThe Royal College of Midwives professional policy advisor has urged members of the public to show more support to breastfeeding mothers after a survey showed only the most confident were willing to feed outside their own homes.

Jane Fyle highlighted the UK's “woeful breastfeeding statistics” revealed in a new piece of research into maternal trait personality & breastfeeding duration released to coincide with World Breastfeeding Week 2013.

Swansea University researcher Amy Brown looked at the personality traits and feeding habits of over 600 mothers to find that those who were more extrovert and emotionally stable were likely to continue breastfeeding for a longer duration.

Meanwhile, those who are more anxious or introverted are likely to use formula milk or stop breastfeeding sooner.

Anxiety after birth
Commenting on the findings, Fyle said: "The results are interesting, however, we should use the word “personality” advisedly in this context.

"It is true that the more anxious an individual, the less likely they may be to focus on some issues. Anxiety after the birth of a child cannot simply be put down to personality alone, or its impact on breastfeeding, as it could be attributed to other issues.

"There is no doubt that mothers who have more support are more likely to breastfeed for longer and this includes societal support.  Unfortunately we hear too often of mothers who are challenged or asked to stop breastfeeding in public areas. 

"If we are to make any progress in our woeful breastfeeding statistics and boost the confidence of new mothers to breastfeed for longer, we need to adopt breastfeeding as the default method of infant nutrition throughout our society."

Peer support to encourage breastfeeding
Her comments mirror the aims of the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action's recent Breastfeeding Week [1-7 Aug]. The focus of the week was to highlight the importance of peer support in encouraging breastfeeding

La Leche League International has been crucial for promoting the Peer Support idea, because they believe people are often drawn to those “with whom they share life experiences”, of which parenthood is obvious example.

"When new mothers have someone who can understand and identify with their experiences, they can better enjoy and cope with parenthood. A peer counsellor is an invaluable partner with mothers in their journey through parenthood, helping them gain confidence in their ability to breastfeed," concluded LLLI's Anne Batterjee.