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Breastfeeding: breastfeeding:

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It's Breastfeeding Awareness Week in Britain, as if we should need reminding that breast is best for baby

It's Breastfeeding Awareness Week in Britain, as if we should need reminding that breast is best for baby. The statistics suggest we do. At birth, 69 per cent of babies born in the UK are being breastfed, but this drops to just 55 per cent after one week, and by six weeks to just 42 per cent.
The problem is certainly cultural, but it's also hormonal. WDDTY panelist and natural birth pioneer Dr Michel Odent explains that a natural birth is vital for the release of hormones that allow breastfeeding to begin. For example, a woman in labour releases endorphin that, in turn, helps the generation of prolactin, which begins the cycle of milk production. This process can be stopped, or slowed, by any interference to the natural birth process. Even pharmaceutical drugs can affect the delicate balance.
It's no accident, he says, that countries with a high caesarean rate also have a low breastfeeding rate. In the UK, caesarean rates have increased slightly to 23 per cent, according to the latest NHS statistics for 2003. One in eight women had 'instrumental deliveries', such as the use of forceps or vacuum extraction, and just 46 per cent of women had a normal delivery.
It's interesting to note that the 42 per cent of women who persist with breastfeeding equates to the 46 per cent who had a normal delivery.


Proof positive

Pain:

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