UNICEF breastfeeding report could save the NHS £40 million pounds

Kate Buckley


Today UNICEF UK has released a report showing that by encouraging and supporting breastfeeding mums the NHS could save £40 million Kate Buckley  from Life Love and Living with Boys is here to tell us more.

If you’d have asked me what I thought about breastfeeding 3 years ago, I would have told you it was just a way to feed your baby, the alternative to formula.  Yes, I knew about most of the health benefits but it wasn’t really a big deal. My Mum breastfed me and I planned to breastfeed and that was all there was to it.

Fast forward to December 2011 when I embarked on my Breastfeeding Peer Support training, and I am still breastfeeding my 18 month old and am also a little booby obsessed!

There is a serious point to all this boob talk though and Unicef UK have released a report today which shows that a moderate increase in the UK breastfeeding rates could save the NHS £40 million. This rate increase will only be achieved by putting breastfeeding support to the top of the agenda.

The report found that 90% of women stopped breastfeeding before they wanted to due to poor support and information.  I am writing from the point of view of one of those 90%.  I was given bad advice which lead me to stop feeding Spud before either of us were ready and I know the upset that causes.

Women and babies are being let down every single day.  The one thing I want to achieve as a Peer Supporter is that women are able to make an informed choice, are able to choose how long they breastfeed for and that they receive all the support they deserve in achieving that.  That doesn’t seem too much to ask for.

Apart from the emotional stress not being able to breastfeed causes, there are a number of health benefits which come from breastfeeding.

With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it shouldn’t go unnoticed that if half of all mothers who currently do NOT breastfeed were to do so for at least 18 months over their lives, there would be 865 fewer cases of Breast Cancer per year.

  • If 45% of babies were exclusively breastfed for four months, and if 75% of babies in neonatal units were breastfed at discharge, each year there would be:
    • 3,285 fewer babies hospitalised with gastroenteritis and 10,637 fewer GP consultations, saving more than £3.6million
    • 5,916 fewer babies hospitalised with respiratory illness, and 22,248 fewer GP consultations, saving around £6.7million
    • 21,045 fewer GP visits for ear infection, saving £750,000
    • 361 fewer cases of the potentially fatal disease necrotising enterecolitis, saving more than £6million

The report has also looked in to a number of other conditions such as obesity and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  It really is worth having a read of and you can find further info and links to the actual report over on my blog.  I will be publishing further posts on my blog discussing the facts and figures in more detail over the coming weeks too.

— Kate Buckley

Almost 30 something married Mum of two young boys, Spud and Pooh Bear. Kate blogs about life with two under four, breastfeeding and anything else which takes her fancy over on Life Love and Living with Boys.

A self-confessed breastfeeding geek and loves supporting other Mums as a Breastfeeding Peer Supporter on her local maternity ward and in the support groups. You can chat with Kate on Twitter @Scattymumofboys and find her on Facebook too.

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