Oxford

Breastfeeding mothers 'need support'

New mothers should receive more support to help increase the number of babies being breastfed at six to eight weeks in Oxfordshire, a councillor has said.

At birth about 80% of babies in the county are breastfed, which falls to 60% by six to eight weeks.

Councillor Hilary Hibbert-Biles, head of public health at Oxfordshire County Council, wants to see that figure increase to 65%.

She said breast milk was more nutritious than formula milk.

The move is supported by the Royal College of Midwives.

'More funding needed'

Nationally 47% of babies are still breastfed at six to eight weeks.

Ms Hibbert-Biles said: "Breast milk actually has greater nutrition than formula milk and leads to a stronger immune system."

She added it also helped babies with other problems, including colic, and reduced the risk to mothers of developing breast and ovarian cancers.

She said she wanted to see more support for new mothers, including longer stays in maternity units.

Jacque Gerrard, from Royal College of Midwives, said there was pressure on beds and said many women wanted to transfer home soon after giving birth, where they felt "more relaxed".

She added there was a shortage of about 5,000 midwives across the country, including those working in the community, and said more funding was needed.

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