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By Citizen Reporter


Breastfeeding: Why parents continue to struggle

Two thirds of moms say they would be more confident and comfortable breastfeeding in public if it was considered ‘normal’.

• 36% of the women surveyed would feel more confident and comfortable breastfeeding in public if they saw other women around them doing so.

•  About 1 in 4 expecting mothers feel expressing in public is a hassle.

• 30% of the women surveyed would like to be able to express while travelling, working, while doing the laundry/chores around the house, while taking care of other children, during dinner with friends or family in a restaurant or while visiting friends and family.

Breastfeeding has been around for as long as we have existed and over time, countless scientific studies have proven and upheld its health benefits for baby and mom.

And yet, in many parts of the world, there are still a lot of taboos around breastfeeding – signalling a need for more support for moms and dads to parent and feed their way.

In an effort to understand some of the challenges breastfeeding parents face when feeding their babies, Philips asked more than 6 000 women across 25 countries* what holds them back from breastfeeding their babies anytime and anywhere they want to as part of some research for World Breastfeeding Week (1 – 7 August). 

The survey was also conducted to better understand how to support and empower them to parent and feed their way. 

Here are some highlights from the study. 

Breastfeeding in public –  still not considered ‘normal’

The results of the survey show there’s still work to be done to support and empower moms in their choice to breastfeed in public. 

“Around two-thirds (66%) of moms globally say they would feel more confident and comfortable breastfeeding in public if it was considered ‘normal’. Feeling embarrassed or uncomfortable to breastfeed around people they don’t know, is the key reason (52%) of women feel too hesitant to consider breastfeeding in public,” reported Philips. 

The results also reveal many moms (40%) would not consider pumping in public, rising to 69% in France and dropping to 17% in the USA.

The brand – which produces milk bottles and breast pumps – also noted that results vary across cultures and countries and breastfeeding and expressing in public is not something every mom wishes to do. 

Moms should feel they have the ‘right’

lactation motherhood
Baby drinking mother’s milk. Picture: iStock

The results go on to reveal that while the biggest motivator for moms globally to breastfeed in public is being able to feed their babies as soon as they need it (59%), almost half (47%) globally say having the ‘right’ to breastfeed in public would also motivate them to do so, rising to 57% in Austria and Canada and dropping to 31% in South-Africa.

“Only through greater breastfeeding awareness, encouraging breastfeeding policy change, and creating more supportive communities around moms that empower them to feed their way, will more people start to recognise and promote breastfeeding as the basic human right it actually is, suggested Philips. 

Moms deserve greater support

Added to this, many moms say greater overall support from others would help them feel more comfortable breastfeeding in public, with this being true for almost a third of moms in the USA (33%), Spain and Mexico (both 30%). 

Meanwhile, greater partner support would help for many in Colombia (41%), Mexico and Chile (both 40%), compared to fewer in Austria (17%) and Germany (13%). 

These figures go a long way to indicate many moms would love to see society’s overall understanding and perception of breastfeeding shift from something inappropriate or unnecessary to one of the most natural, fundamental acts of care in the world. 

Philips believes this shift can only happen by educating more people on the value of breastfeeding, starting more conversations about it and championing parents’ choices to feed however best suits them – something that lies in all of our hands.

BreastStories and the power of shared experiences

mother breastfeeding baby
Bottles with breast milk on the background of mother holding in her hands and breastfeeding baby. Picture: iStock

Motivated by their belief that parents should feel supported and empowered throughout this journey and be allowed to parent their way, the brand launched an online platform called BreastStories.

One of the main aims of the platform as to create a supportive online community for moms and dads, so they never feel alone in their experiences. 

“There’s great power in talking about your experiences with healthcare professionals, lactation consultants, at antenatal classes, via apps and online communities, and with family, friends, and other moms.

“Through our, parents from around the world can share their breastfeeding stories, tips, and tricks via Instagram and Facebook, as well as find breastfeeding information and advice from healthcare professionals,” explained Philips.  

Philips also created apps called Pregnancy+ and Baby+ which provide tools for parents to log feeding information and track their baby’s development, such as their weight, height, and head circumference during the first year.  

*Philips survey conducted with 6453 women across 25 countries globally in February 2022 via Philips Pregnancy + App.

*Compiled by Kaunda Selisho

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