Rising numbers of new mothers are breast-feeding, figures show.
Some 81 per cent now start their babies on breast milk compared with just 66 per cent in the mid-nineties.
The statistics also show that higher numbers of women are persevering and continuing to breast-feed for at least six months.
Just over a third, 34 per cent, are still feeding their infants breast milk when they are six months old compared with just 21 per cent in 1995 and 26 per cent in 2005.
Yet despite the rise, only one in 100 are obeying NHS guidelines that they should exclusively breast-feed for the first six months.
Many will also give their babies formula milk or start them on soft foods within the first six months.
Campaigners said the NHS’s goal was unrealistic given women’s day-to-day lives and the difficulties they encounter breast- feeding.
Heather Trickey, research manager for the National Childbirth Trust said: ‘We are concerned that a high proportion of mothers stop before they planned to in the early days and weeks.
‘This suggests many women are still not getting all the support they need during this critical adjustment period. Mothers who plan to breast-feed need access to skilled, knowledgeable, non-judgmental, one-to-one support.
‘The percentage of mothers exclusively breast-feeding to six months, in line with guidance from World Health Organisation and from UK health departments, is very small.
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