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Fed is best says Royal College of Midwives

Author Philippa Murphy

Fed is best says Royal College of Midwives

WOW! This is such an important stand for the rights of mothers to be respected and supported. For decades The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative Policy has stopped professionals fully supporting mothers within their feeding choice by stating “Mothers should be discouraged from giving any food or fluids other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.”  Whether the mother chooses to not breastfeed, or have been left with little choice but to bottle feed and/or use formula, like myself, the common line from health professionals that have been requested for information on bottle feeding or formula has been, “sorry, but I am not allowed to talk about that.” Sometimes followed by a rather forth right encouragement to keep breastfeeding despite, in some cases, baby’s weight being compromised. This leaves the mother feeling like she is unsupported, not listened to, and depending how it is handled, like she has failed. But now, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) are, in my opinion, bravely stepping out to have that change for our mothers… 

Their update to their guidance on feeding babies now states, “if a mother chooses not to breastfeed her decision must be respected and help and advice given on formula feeding.” Gill Walton, RCM's chief executive said in a statement: "We recognise that some women cannot, or do not wish to breast feed 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 Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) supports the RCN's updated position saying "while breastfeeding is natural, it doesn't always come naturally. Women report difficulties in establishing breastfeeding, concerns about whether their baby is receiving enough milk and social stigma around breastfeeding in public. Some mothers cannot, or choose not to, breastfeed … but for those who do want to breastfeed, we need to see barriers removed with mothers given support at the right time and place.”

Walton said: "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. “We know that every woman wants the best for her baby and we want to be able to empower our members to support women to be the best they can be and enable them to decisions that are right for themselves and their babies.”

Amen to that!

RCM Position Statement on Infant Feeding June 2018 can be viewed here:


Last Updated: 27 June 2018