British society blamed for world’s lowest breastfeeding rate

© Marco Bello
Societal pressure to look good and go for a night out in the UK has resulted in the world’s lowest breastfeeding rate, according to a public health expert.

Professor Amy Brown from Swansea University said new British mums are shamed into continuing with the lives they had before giving birth and that breastfeeding can become “overwhelming,” reports the Telegraph.

The academic is now calling for a change in public attitudes towards breastfeeding in public, highlighting how the natural act is still seen as taboo by some Brits.

READ MORE: 2,000 women celebrate World Breastfeeding Week in Colombia

“Is the reason for the low figures because of physical problems? No,” Brown said. “There are only two percent of women in the UK who are unable to breastfeed because of a physical problem or because of medication that they are on.”

Only one out of 200 British women, just 0.5 percent, are still breastfeeding up to 12 months after becoming mothers. That puts them just ahead of Saudi Arabia and Denmark among countries that largely reject mother's milk.

In contrast, 23 percent of German ‘mutters,’ 27 percent of American moms, and a whopping 92 percent in India breastfeed their children until they are at least one year old, according to a study by the Lancet.

So-called developing countries like Senegal, The Gambia, Malawi, Guinea-Bissau, and Ethiopia rank the highest.

READ MORE: Breastfeeding flash mob takes over Hong Kong station to protest discrimination (VIDEO)

Breastfeeding has been widely recommended by UNICEF and the World Health Organization, who say it is beneficial for children by reducing the chances of diabetes, infections and child obesity.

That’s not enough to convince most UK mums, however.

Brown said pressure from society to dress well and socialize after giving birth is a big factor in the decline.

“The situation has arisen because of society creating huge problems,” she explained. “New mothers face significant social pressure to ‘get their lives back’ quickly after having a baby, by socializing, getting back in their jeans and keeping their partner happy - which can make breastfeeding so overwhelming.”

Brown also added that baby formula companies use “clever tactics” to target new mothers and despite “90 percent of mothers in the UK wanting to breastfeed,” over half of babies also have formula milk in the first week of being born.