BRITISH working mothers should be given the right to breastfeed their babies during office hours, according to a government proposal to be launched on Tuesday.
A Department of Health white paper will set out a plan to encourage firms to adopt “breastfeeding-friendly employment policies” in a push to increase the UK’s low rates of breastfeeding.
Firms will be urged to provide private areas where women can breastfeed or express milk and dedicated fridges for storing it.
Another proposed measure is greater flexibility around when mothers take breaks, enabling them, where possible to return home to breastfeed their child.
Government ministers argue that increasing breastfeeding rates has the potential to boost children’s health and cut infant mortality levels.
The UK Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: “Giving young families good support is key to tackling health inequalities and key to good health in the whole population.
“Breastfeeding is one of the best ways to give babies good health, but our society doesn’t always make it easy for new mums to do it. We want to make it easier for new mums to breastfeed.”
“If we can make it easier more mums would breastfeed and they might do it for longer, giving their children the best start in life,” Mr Lansley added.
Around 66 percent of British women in manual jobs breastfeed, compared with 88 percent of professionals.
National Health Service figures recently showed that 39 percent of mothers who stopped breastfeeding between four and six months after childbirth blamed work.
Women in England won the right to breastfeed in public last month and the European parliament also voted last month to give women the right to two separate, one-hour periods off for breastfeeding each day.
The scheme, due to be introduced over the next few months, will be tried out initially by several as yet unnamed private companies at no cost to the businesses.
It will be concentrated in less affluent areas where the number of mothers breastfeeding is traditionally low.