Women who struggle to breastfeed ‘feel like failures’

Half of mothers who breastfeed struggle to do so, a survey has found.

Two thirds of them said it was one of the best parts of being a mother – but half also said it was one of the hardest.

The poll by BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour asked more than 1,000 women aged 18-40 who had a baby in the past decade about their experiences of breastfeeding.

Many described a feeling of pride – but those who struggled said they felt like a failure as a result. One in seven of those surveyed said difficulties with breastfeeding had a negative effect on their mental health.

Two thirds of mothers surveyed said breastfeeding was one of the best parts of being a mother (stock image)

Two thirds of mothers surveyed said breastfeeding was one of the best parts of being a mother (stock image)

Two thirds of mothers surveyed said breastfeeding was one of the best parts of being a mother (stock image)

 One in seven of those surveyed said difficulties with breastfeeding had a negative effect on their mental health (stock image)

 One in seven of those surveyed said difficulties with breastfeeding had a negative effect on their mental health (stock image)

 One in seven of those surveyed said difficulties with breastfeeding had a negative effect on their mental health (stock image)

Overall, 29 per cent of mothers had breastfed exclusively, while 41 per cent did so alongside formula milk. Another 29 per cent used only formula.

For the first six months of a child’s life, breast milk is recommended exclusively. It should then be provided alongside solid food, experts suggest.

The survey, conducted by BBC Radio Sheffield alongside Radio 4, will be discussed on both stations today and tomorrow.

Katrina Bunker, of Radio Sheffield, said: ‘The results provide some interesting insights. For some [breastfeeding] is a magical part of motherhood, for others it can be traumatic.’

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