‘Women’s choice to breast or bottle feed should be supported’ says RCM
New guidelines by the RCM state that a woman’s choice of how to feed her baby should be ‘respected’
The Royal College of Midwives' (RCM) has announced a new position statement that clearly states women should be supported if, after being given advice, information and support, they opt to bottle feed using formula milk.
The RCM recognises in the new statement that some mothers find it difficult to start or carry on breastfeeding, and the new statement makes it clear that it is the mother’s decision and is the woman’s right to choose.
The new advice has been welcomed by the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) who have in the past raised concern that women can face judgment or feel guilty if they do not breastfeed. The NCT support the change but feel more change is still needed.
In response to the changes, Chief Executive of the RCM, Gill Walton said: "We recognise that some women cannot or do not wish to breastfeed and rely on formula milk. They must be given all the advice and support they need on safe preparation of bottles and responsive feeding to develop a close and loving bond with their baby."
"The RCM believes that women should be at the centre of their own care and as with other areas of maternity care, midwives and maternity support workers should promote informed choice.
"If, after being given appropriate information, advice and support on breastfeeding, a woman chooses not to do so, or to give formula as well as breastfeeding, her choice must be respected.
Within the new guidance the advice remains that babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their life, in line with advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO).