The Position Statement on Infant Feeding issued by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) on 11 June 2018 as an update to the 2015 RCM guidance, calls for each woman “to get the support and advice she needs to make informed choices about feeding her baby.” The statement continues: “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.” The statement also says that “breastfeeding mothers should feel supported and respected by wider society. 
La Leche League GB agrees that all women need to feel supported and respected in the choices they make for themselves and their babies. It is of crucial importance that women make those choices based on accurate, evidenced based information, having received the support they need. LLLGB aims to offer women information which empowers them to make a decision which is right for them.
Women need to feel that their decisions about how to feed their babies are respected and that they are not being judged for them. Baby Friendly Initiative standards say that “sensitive conversations” should take place about responsive feeding, whatever the method, and resources for formula feeding.
The majority of women do want to breastfeed but are not getting the support they need to do so. Recent cuts in breastfeeding support and resources available after birth mean it is even more difficult for women to overcome the common challenges they may experience in the early days, such as difficulty in latching the baby to the breast, sore nipples and breasts, and worries about milk supply. Appropriate support and information can make a big difference to how women manage these worries.
However, as time goes on women also need to feel supported by the wider community. They need to feel comfortable feeding their babies wherever they are, and they need adequate paid maternity leave and better legal safeguards for breastfeeding breaks and facilities if they return to paid work.
Inappropriate marketing of breastmilk substitutes/infant formula can also play a part in the decisions women make. In November 2016, the United Nations called for “urgent action to stop the ‘misleading, aggressive and inappropriate’ marketing of breast-milk substitutes in a multi-billion-dollar global industry”  and added:
“These marketing practices often negatively affect the choices women make on how to feed their infants in the best way possible, and can impede both babies and mothers from enjoying the many health benefits of breastfeeding.” 
Infant formula can never replicate breastmilk as it is a manufactured product. Breastmilk contains living cells, hormones, active enzymes, antibodies and compounds with unique structures ideally suited for each individual baby. Unlike formula, it adapts over time to suit each baby’s development, protecting her gut and immune system.
If a mother feels unsure about breastfeeding, it may help to know that even breastfeeding just for the first few days helps her uterus to contract and go back to its normal size and provides her baby with high concentrations of antibodies to help his immune system and seal the holes in his gastrointestinal tract to protect against harmful substances.
Getting the right help and support in those early days may mean that a mother who was unsure about breastfeeding will decide to continue and enjoy the nursing relationship.
Mothers who decide not to breastfeed will find their own way to nourish and cherish their child. What the majority of mothers need is the support and information to enable them to breastfeed for as long as they and their baby wish to.
The RCM says: “A collaborative approach to breastfeeding which promotes the benefits of peer support programmes and third sector involvement will ensure the best outcomes for women and their families.” 
LLLGB is one of the organisations offering that support to all women, respecting the choices they make, based on accurate information and providing a listening ear when needed.
You may find this article helpful too. https://laleche.org.uk/breastfeeding-isnt-working-2/
Written by Anna Burbidge for LLLGB, June 2018
1. The Royal College of Midwives. Position Statement – Infant Feeding. June 2018, https://www.rcm.org.uk/sites/default/files/Infant%20Feeding.pdf (accessed 11 June 2018).
2. United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Breastfeeding a matter of human rights, say UN experts, urging action on formula milk. 22 November 2016, https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=20904&LangID=E (accessed 11 June 2018)
4. The Royal College of Midwives. Position Statement – Infant Feeding. June 2018, https://www.rcm.org.uk/sites/default/files/Infant%20Feeding.pdf (accessed 11 June 2018).