One in three mothers continue breastfeeding “in some capacity” when their child reaches six months old.
Data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) shows mothers are breastfeeding for longer.
The Infant Feeding Survey 2010 shows 81% of mothers initially breastfeed their child at birth – up from 76% in 2005.
By the time babies were six months old, 34% were still breastfeeding. This is compared to just 25% in 2005.
The report also shows that 69% of mothers exclusively breastfed at birth, a rise from 65% in 2005.
“Not only are more mothers initially breastfeeding at the time of their baby’s birth, more of them are continuing to breastfeed for longer, which has known benefits to a child’s long term health,” said HSCIC chief executive Tim Straughan.
Mothers were also “most likely” to initiate breastfeeding if they were aged 30 or over, from a minority ethnic group, well educated and lived in an affluent area.
Those mothers who did stop breastfeeding reported they would have liked to have carried on for longer.
The three most common reasons given by mothers for stopping breastfeeding within the first couple of weeks were that the baby rejected the breast (33%), mother experienced painful breasts (22%) or the mother felt the milk supply was “insufficient” (17%).