Breastfeeding rates in the UK are amongst the lowest in Europe. Endless 'breast is best' campaigns aim to boost numbers but instead of bullying women who choose (because it's quite rightly a choice) bottle over boob, shouldn't the focus be on supporting the thousands of women who desperately want to feed their little one but are struggling.
According the National Childbirth Trust, 80 of those who quit before their baby is two weeks old really didn't want to.
Just one in every hundred mums who start breastfeeding are still doing it at six months.
Professor Lesley Page, president of the Royal College of Midwives, says support is the key to successful breastfeeding and midwives need more time with women post-natally. "An increase in birth rates has meant midwives have been taken away from the community to staff labour wards. We need enough midwives to provided one-to-one care in labour and adequate services after birth," she says.
La Leche League agrees. A spokeswoman says, "Support is the most vital factor. Too many women give up in the first weeks of motherhood, usually because they are struggling to get their baby to latch properly. This just takes time and patience and, with the right support, can be gotten over.
"Midwives cannot always give the time that is needed and there aren't enough support workers on the NHS. There has been a cut in funding generally so support really is a postcode lottery."
While breastfeeding literature might encourage women to have a go, the only thing that will see them stick at it when it gets really tough is support.
Natasha came into my home, offering expertise, patience, positivity and, above all, time. That's what mums struggling to breastfeed so desperately need.
Without her support I wouldn't have persisted with what was, ultimately, an incredibly rewarding experience that I will always treasure. Until that level of support is available to all women wanting to feed their child, breastfeeding rates will remain low and thousands of new mums will be left feeling guilty and disappointed.
Do you agree? What was your experience of breastfeeding?
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