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Midwife shortage can leave women feeling unsupported on breastfeeding

Wednesday, 14th March 2012

Commenting on breastfeeding research published today in the BMJ Open suggesting that advice to breastfeed exclusively for six months may be “unhelpful” and too idealistic, Gail Johnson, education and professional development advisor at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “Midwives have a significant role in advising and supporting women’s care based on the best possible evidence. The evidence to support and promote the value of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months remains unchanged.

“Breastfeeding should not be seen as an idealistic target, it should be part of the continuum of care for babies. Midwives and other health professionals have an on-going responsibility to support parents in caring for their babies and breastfeeding is a part of this.

“Many women successfully exclusively breastfeed their babies, however for some families this isn’t what they choose to do, it is about personal choice which must be made based on the best evidence available and what is right for each family. It is important that women and their partners receive the most appropriate help and support in caring for their baby and the RCM appreciates that a shortage of midwives can leave some women feeling unsupported with breastfeeding.

“The long term health benefits of breastfeeding for both the mother and the baby will be lost without continued support and promotion of breastfeeding by midwives and other health professionals.”

For more information contact the RCM Press Office on 020 7312 3456, pressofficer@rcm.org.uk.

The RCM’s e-petition for 5,000 more midwives
The Royal College of Midwives is campaigning for 5,000 more midwives for the NHS in England, and is encouraging people to sign an e-petition calling for this that has been lodged by RCM General Secretary Prof Cathy Warwick at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/13716

It is already one of the most popular e-petitions on the Government’s system, and if it tops 100,000 signatures it will be eligible for a full debate in the House of Commons.

Notes to editors

The Royal College of Midwives is the voice of midwifery. We are the UK’s only trade union and professional organisation led by midwives for midwives. The vast majority of the midwifery profession are our members. The RCM promotes midwifery, quality maternity services and professional standards. We support and represent our members individually and collectively in all four UK countries.  We influence on behalf of our members and for the interests of the women and families for which they care.  For more information visit the RCM website at www.rcm.org.uk.