In the UK breastfeeding is viewed by many as difficult, or even unnecessary because formula milk is seen as a close second best. It is a highly emotive subject because so many families have not breastfed, or have experienced the trauma of trying very hard to breastfeed and not being able to.
The pain felt by so many parents around breastfeeding can close down conversations and lead to accusations that there is too much pressure on women to breastfeed. Whilst no parent should have to feel such pain, and well-meaning efforts to promote breastfeeding have at times been insensitive, the situation has become so fraught that those who speak out for breastfeeding are often met with anger and abuse.
However, powerful new evidence demands that we act now to ensure more babies are breastfed in future. Two major studies funded by the Gates Foundation have delivered extensive and resounding evidence that breastfeeding saves lives, improves health and cuts costs in every country worldwide. This new research leaves us no choice: we must now find a way to build a supportive, enabling environment for all women who want to breastfeed.