Figures from Public Health England showed in Portsmouth 74 per cent of mothers start breastfeeding when their babies are born.
But that figure drops to 39 per cent by the time the baby is six to eight weeks old.
To celebrate World Breastfeeding Week, which runs now until Monday, Portsmouth City Council’s public health team is encouraging individuals and businesses to show their support to mums choosing to breastfeed. Mums are free to breastfeed in any venue but some companies in the city have joined a scheme to show their support.
Dr Jason Horsley, director of public health at the council, said: ‘The 74 per cent of mothers who start breastfeeding are giving their babies an excellent start in life.
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‘They are reducing the risk of their baby developing a number of health conditions including infections, certain allergic conditions, type one and two diabetes, infant mortality and sudden infant death syndrome – cot death.
‘For mothers it also reduces the risk of type two diabetes and breast and ovarian cancer.
‘As well as making babies and mothers healthier, breastfeeding is also cheaper and more convenient than using formula feeds.
‘Mums should feel confident and comfortable to feed when they’re out and about and we would encourage more businesses to join the scheme showing they openly welcome breastfeeding mums.
‘There is a lot of support available, which I would urge mums to use if they are having any difficulties with breastfeeding or have questions about it.’
The scheme is being run alongside the Portsmouth branch of the Breastfeeding Network group. On their website and Facebook page is a list of businesses signed up to show their support to breastfeeding mums.
Hana Young is project led for the Gosport branch of the Breastfeeding Network group. She said women should feel confident breastfeeding in the public and the more it happens, the fewer people would object to it.
‘The more people see women breastfeeding in public, the better,’ Hana said.
‘It is a normal, natural thing and people need to see it as that.
‘Women need to feel confident they can feed their babies while out and about.’