The Republic of Ireland has the lowest breastfeeding rate in the world.
According to a recent study by UNICEF, only 55% of Irish babies received some form of breast milk. The UK was the fifth lowest, and now experts in UK are calling for breastfeeding to be included in personal social health education (PSHE) classes at school.
Their hope is to instil an appreciation for the multiple benefits that breastfeeding brings to both mother and baby.
The report listed 123 countries, with UK being the fifth lowest in the world for breastfeeding with 81% of babies being breastfeed. Following it are Spain (77%), the US (74.4%), France (63%) and Ireland (55%).
Counties with the highest breastfeeding rates include Sri Lanka (99.4%) and Buhtan (99.3%).
“The analysis indicates that even though breast milk saves lives, protects babies and mothers against deadly diseases, and leads to better IQ and educational outcomes, an estimated 21 per cent of babies in high-income countries are never breastfed. In low-and-middle-income countries, the rate is four per cent,” states the report.
Some of the reasons cited as wealthier countries aversion to breastfeeding stem from prevailing stigma. According to a 2015 survey, six out of ten British women felt uncomfortable or embarrassed when breastfeeding in public. The lack of public breastfeeding facilities and the prevalence of mum-shaming only adds to the difficulty.
The NHS recommend that babies are given breast milk for the first six months. The benefits for mothers are just as numerous as for the baby, as well as proving a bonding experience, breastfeeding also reduces the risk of type two diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease.
Speaking to Refinery29, Professor Russell Viner, the president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said that adding breastfeeding to school curriculums would be a positive step.
"Children need to learn from a young age that breastfeeding is natural and the best source of nutrition for a baby – delivering personal social health education (PSHE) in all schools is an effective way to do this and PHSE therefore must be made statutory and compulsory for all schools.
"By embedding these positive messages early in life, we have the power to change societal attitudes of a generation. Then many more women can breastfeed in public without fear or anxiety, and provide the best source of nutrition for their baby in the process."
See the list of the countries with the highest and lowest rates of breastfeeding in the world.
Countries with the lowest breastfeeding rates
1. Ireland (55%)
2. France (63%)
3. US (74.4%)
4. Spain (77%)
5. UK (81%)
6. Germany (82%)
7. Italy (86%)
8. Republic of Korea (88%)
9. Montenegro (88.3%)
10. Guyana (89%)
Countries with the highest breastfeeding rates
1. Sri Lanka (99.4%)
2. Bhutan (99.3%)
3. Nepal (99.1%)
4. Madagascar (99%)
5. Niger (98.8%)
6. Rwanda (98.8%)
7. Kenya (98.7%)
8. Gambia (98.7%)
9. Burundi (98.7%)
10. Uruguay (98.7%)
11. Peru (98.7%)
What do you think mums? Do you think breastfeeding should be taught in schools here too?