Half of new mothers are being given breastfeeding advice which ‘is not good enough’
Almost half of new mothers are not being given basic advice from health officials on how to cope with breastfeeding, a major survey has revealed.
The health benefits of breastfeeding are well-known and doctors advise that babies should be exclusively breast-fed for the first six months of life when solid food should be added slowly.
But almost half of all UK mums surveyed felt they did not get enough support compared to 27 per cent last year.
One in five women said midwives and health visitors had only told them the basics on how to cope with breastfeeding their newborn babies.
Only 65 per cent of British women breastfeed, compared with 80 and 90 per cent in Australia and New Zealand. In Scotland, only 55 per cent of mother’s breast feed – one of the lowest rates in Europe – and just 42 per cent of British mothers are still breastfeeding six weeks after birth.
According to the new survey, mums said they were left to their own devices and had to work things out for themselves as midwives and health visitors were too busy.
More than 1,200 mums completed the Lansinoh Breastfeeding Survey 2012 and three quarters of UK mums said that boosting midwife numbers was key to improving breastfeeding rates in the UK.
Anna Burbidge, a spokesperson from the pro-breastfeeding group, La Leche League GB said: ‘There are many reasons why women might be reluctant to breastfeed, or struggle to get breastfeeding established.
‘Having enough time with supportive healthcare professionals can have a positive effect on breastfeeding. ‘The intensive and sometimes challenging early days do pass, and as babies and mothers learn and grow together breastfeeding usually becomes a very enjoyable and important part of mothering for both of them.’
The survey also revealed that mothers were subscribing to numerous myths surrounding breastfeeding and 80 per cent of UK mums admitted they were scared breastfeeding would hurt.
Ms Burbidge added: ‘In the early days many women feel concerned that breastfeeding will hurt and sometimes just a small change in positioning the baby can make all the difference
‘Mothers can decide not to breastfeed because of simple misinformation, such as breastfeeding causes saggy breasts, or that mothers with small breasts produce less milk, or that women should not breastfeed after exercising.
‘If women receive accurate and positive information, and are supported, especially when difficulties arise, breastfeeding offers many benefits for both mother and baby.’
As well as pain, 38 per cent of mums said that their main fear was breastfeeding in public and a quarter believed it was wrong and embarrassing to breastfeed in public places.
Sixty-six per cent of mums said the main reason for choosing to breastfeed were the associated health benefits. However, this percentage is considerably lower than Turkey, where 93 per cent of mums choose to breastfeed because of the health benefits, and Germany, where the figure is 75 per cent.
While the global survey revealed 86 per cent of UK mothers still felt ‘breast is best’, this figure dropped from 98 per cent in 2011.
Diane Emery, Director, Health Professional Liaison from Lansinoh said: ‘With the birth rate rising in the UK each year it is important that mums receive the support they need to breastfeed for as long as they wish. ‘We can see from the survey results that mums feel that they aren’t receiving enough information and encouragement. ‘It is imperative that mums know where they can go to find information about breastfeeding if they have any concerns.’
‘Mickey Mouse’ subjects taken by 90% of British pupils: Soft courses to be axed from league tables
Nearly nine out of ten 16-year-olds last year took at least one ‘Mickey Mouse’ subject such as ‘cake making’, ‘party décor’ and ‘sugar confection’ which are being purged from school league tables.
Education Secretary Michael Gove is cracking down on the flimsy subjects which under Labour were billed as being equal in part or whole to GCSEs in maths and physics.
New information from the Department for Education revealed the extent to which children had been pushed on to the range of thousands of courses outside the core subjects.
Some 552,575 pupils took at least one of the so-called ‘equivalent’ qualifications last year. The number of pupils taking a core academic subject – such as maths, a science, English, languages, history and geography – halved under Labour to barely one in six.
Meanwhile the sheer number of qualifications on offer had become so unwieldy that 225 of them were taken by just a single pupil each, and 791 were taken by fewer than ten pupils.
Some of those qualifications that were deemed to be equal in part or whole to maths and physics GCSEs included a course in ‘drinks service’ which was taken by just five pupils.
Just one student took ‘sugar confection’. Nine pupils took qualifications in ‘call centre skills’ while ‘party décor’ was taken by 11 pupils. Cake decorating proved more popular – it was taken by 40 pupils, while pastry craft attracted seven students.
Tap dance was popular with 22 students who took one of seven qualifications in the subject.
Just one pupil took a qualification in ‘front of house ops’ while 31 opted for ‘soft furnishings’. And four students took ‘water sports’ as a school subject. Make-up was taken up as a GCSE equivalent by 202 students while 16 took a qualification in ‘jewellery making’.
A course on ‘health and safety’ was taken by 6,025 pupils while the ambiguous ‘working with others’ attracted 22,885 pupils.
There were a total of 1.9million entries in the so-called ‘equivalent’ qualifications.
Mr Gove has despaired over how few students take core academic subjects for their GCSEs. Just one in six 16-year-olds chose subjects such as English, maths, a science, history, geography and languages.
Ministers are cutting the value of more than 3,100 vocational qualifications from this year, ending their recognition in England’s school league tables. They hope the move will make it less likely for schools to offer such qualifications as they will no longer have any equivalence with GCSEs in more academic subjects.
By 2014, only 140 ‘equivalent’ subjects will count in GCSE tables. Tory MP Chris Skidmore said: ‘These figures lay bare how Labour lied to a generation, falsely giving them the impression that qualifications that employers will all too often regard as irrelevant were “equivalent” to GCSEs in rigorous subjects like maths and science. Hundreds of thousands of young people are now paying the price for their deception.
‘In tough economic times, we must make every effort to ensure that our children are learning the subjects that employers and universities value most so they can compete for jobs once they leave education.
‘That is why the Government is right to remove these courses from the league tables and to promote rigorous academic subjects through the English Baccalaureate.’
Climate corruption in Britain
A former Tory Minister set to provide the Government with crucial advice on climate change is at the centre of a new conflict-of-interest row after it was revealed he is chairman of a consortium bidding to build one of the world’s biggest offshore windfarms.
John Selwyn Gummer, who was Environment Secretary under John Major and Agriculture Minister in Margaret Thatcher’s Government, is the newly designated chairman of the powerful Committee on Climate Change (CCC). It was set up to provide David Cameron with independent advice on energy policy and climate change.
But a Mail on Sunday investigation has learned the former MP – who became Lord Deben in 2010 – is also chairman of Forewind, a consortium trying to build thousands of turbines in the North Sea’s Dogger Bank.
The revelation follows the news that Tory MP Tim Yeo earns almost £140,000 a year from directorships with ‘green’ energy companies. He holds the posts despite chairing the influential Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee, which is supposed to take a neutral view of renewable energy policy. Lord Deben was named by Mr Cameron last month as his preferred candidate to be the new CCC chairman. The body recommends targets for reducing carbon- dioxide emissions and subsidies for the ‘renewable’ energy industry.
Lord Deben already chairs Sancroft, a lobbying and consultancy firm based in Queen Anne’s Gate, Westminster. One of its specialities is advising businesses on how to make money from policies enacted to combat global warming.
Its website states: ‘Climate change will be the most disruptive influence on business. The risks it poses are immense; the potential rewards are considerable … We show our clients how to … make the most of quickly evolving market opportunities.’
Last night, Lord Deben insisted there was no conflict of interest. His spokeswoman said: ‘The appointment will be the subject of a parliamentary pre-appointment scrutiny hearing in September.
‘Lord Deben has provided the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Cabinet Office with a full list of his interests. If appointed, Lord Deben will put in place arrangements to avoid a conflict of interest.’ Asked whether that meant he would resign from his directorships, she said she could not comment.
The logo of the CCC states that its purpose is to act as ‘independent advisers to the UK Government on tackling and preparing for climate change’. This much-vaunted independence is the main reason its recommendations are so influential in Whitehall.
Welcoming Lord Deben’s nomination, Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said: ‘The CCC plays a critical role in advising the Government on the direction and progress of its energy and climate-change policies.’
The CCC has championed subsidies for wind and other renewable energy sources, stating that it should be possible for renewables to account for 45 per cent of power generation by 2030, compared with three per cent now.
Subsidies and ‘green’ levies mean domestic consumers pay on average about £100 extra a year for their energy, a figure set to increase as Britain seeks to reduce CO2 emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. Forewind is a consortium comprising the German renewable energy firm RWE, Norwegian company Statkraft, the multinational Statoil and UK-based energy firm SSE. If its Dogger Bank plans come to fruition, the wind turbine array there will cost billions of pounds.
The Mail on Sunday has established that the independence of at least three of the CCC’s six other members is also open to question.
Professor Samuel Fankhauser, an academic at the London School of Economics branch of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, is a director of Vivid Economics, a consultancy firm offering commercial advice on the effects of climate policies.
A spokesman for Prof Fankhauser refused to disclose how much he is paid by Vivid, adding that his role was ‘entirely in line with Government rules’ and there were ‘good safeguards in place to manage any possible conflicts of interest that may arise during the work of the CCC’.
The Grantham Institute is funded by Jeremy Grantham, a British-born American billionaire who runs the £100 billion hedge fund GMO. He also funds green groups such as WWF, and has strongly supported measures also advocated by the CCC, such as carbon trading.
A CCC spokeswoman said that any possible conflicts of interest would be considered by the DECC. A Department spokesman added: ‘Lord Deben has made a full declaration of his interests to the DECC and the Cabinet Office. The appointment is now subject to scrutiny by the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee.’
The committee’s chairman, Mr Yeo, holds paid directorships with AFC Energy, which makes fuel cells, the biofuels company TMO Renewables, and ITI Energy, which converts waste into biofuel. Asked whether he was the best person to judge whether Lord Deben had inappropriate conflicts of interest, he said only that the appointment would be ‘considered’ by his committee. As to his own interests, he said: ‘They were all disclosed when I was elected chairman.’
However, senior Conservative MP David Davis said last night: ‘Any public body set up to provide independent policy advice should be absolutely clear of any possible commercial interest in that policy. Ed Davey should look at the composition of the committee again and, if not, he should cease to claim it is independent.’
British Police won’t return an innocent girl’s laptop computer
A further illustration of the police’s heavy-handed collaboration with social workers
A recurring theme of this column for three years has been the heavy-handed readiness of the police to obey the orders of social workers bent on seizing children from their parents, too often for no good reason.
It is now exactly a year since one bright 13-year-old got into a fight with her semi-autistic younger brother, leaving a bruise on his arm. Asked by a teacher next day how it happened, he replied – to protect his sister – that his father had done it. The school called the social workers and the father was arrested and given police bail – despite the boy admitting to the police that he had lied and that the fight was between him and his sister. Three police then searched the family home, confiscating the girl’s mobile phone and laptop and snatching an iPod from her three-year-old sister, claiming that these were needed as “evidence”.
Before any court order could be given, the family escaped to Ireland, where they settled happily to start a new life. The Irish social workers and police reported that they had no concerns about the family, who are now Irish citizens. The older girl is a star pupil at school, and when the English social workers called her head teacher, trying to find some excuse to have the children deported, they were given short shrift. But still, a year later, the girl has not been given back her mobile and laptop, despite written authorisation to her grandmother to collect them on her behalf.
When I asked the West Mercia police why the children’s property has not been returned, I was told that the “evidence” could not be given back because “police investigations are still continuing”. Having talked to the girl – as I have to several other articulate teenagers who have experienced the kind of “support” the police give to social workers – I’m afraid such behaviour does not inspire in them quite the respect the police might wish for.
British social workers are scum
Social workers took a newborn baby girl into care within hours of her birth while the mother was still dosed up on morphine. The mother, 26, had been given the powerful opiate to recover from life-saving surgery after a difficult labour.
Coventry City Council social workers, who hours earlier been told by the mother she wanted to keep the baby girl, then asked her to consent to have the child taken away while she was still under the influence of the drug.
A judge at London’s High Court has now ruled that the state officials violated the human right of the mother and baby, which is now seven months old.
The court heard that the troubled mother, from Coventry, West Midlands, was still feeling the effects of the powerful pain-killing drug when she agreed to have the baby removed.
In a ruling which set out guidelines for the future, Mr Justice Hedley said he ‘seriously doubted’ whether the woman – who feared she would have an allergic reaction to the morphine – was legally capable of giving her consent at the time.
The judge said the council had conceded that social workers should not have sought the mum’s agreement when they did and that the baby’s removal from the post-natal ward ‘was not a proportionate response’ to any risk to the child’s welfare.
He added that the council – which has started an internal investigation into what happened – accepted that it breached the mother and baby’s rights to respect for family life, enshrined in Article 8 of the Human Rights Convention.
Coventry had agreed to pay damages to the mother, as ‘just satisfaction’ for the breach of her rights, and she has asked that the undisclosed sum be spent on giving her therapy.
The judge said the mother had endured a harrowing childhood and adolescence which left her not only vulnerable but ‘devoid of parenting instinct or intuition’.
She has three other children, who have also been taken into care and placed for adoption. The court heard that she had ‘previous unhappy relationships with men’. She is seeing another man at the minute, which she ‘believes promises better things’. However, he is a drug addict.
The judge ruled there was an ‘overwhelming’ case that the welfare of the baby girl also demanded that she be placed with an adoptive family. But that social workers need to be more careful when asking parents to have their child removed.
Giving guidance for the future, Mr Justice Hedley said local authorities ‘may want to approach with great care’ the obtaining of consent from mothers in the aftermath of giving birth, especially where there is no immediate danger to the child.