ABSTRACT

There can be no dispute that breastfeeding enhances the health of babies and their mothers. Yet despite the evidence of its health-enhancing properties, women in the United Kingdom often either choose not to breastfeed or curtail the activity after a relatively short time. Traditionally, health professionals have considered health promotion to be an important aspect of encouraging more women to breastfeed. There is an assumption that imparting knowledge may change attitudes and beliefs. However, it is naive to assume that if women are simply given more information about breastfeeding, the rates of breastfeeding will increase. The majority of women in the United Kingdom are not ignorant of the health benefits of breastfeeding; a variety of influences affect their infant feeding decisions. The main focus of this chapter will be on the social and cultural influences that exist within the United Kingdom that might help or hinder breastfeeding.