Page last updated at 16:42 GMT, Monday, 12 May 2008 17:42 UK

Singer backs breastfeeding drive

Charlotte Church met other mothers and their babies at the launch

Singer Charlotte Church has joined a campaign to encourage other young mothers to breastfeed their babies.

The singer and TV presenter is backing a Welsh Assembly Government drive after statistics revealed only 42% of Welsh mothers under 20 start to breastfeed.

The 22-year-old, who lives with Welsh rugby star Gavin Henson and breastfed their daughter Ruby, now eight months, launched the campaign in Cardiff.

It will highlight the breastfeeding benefits for both mother and child.

Local support services for young mothers will also be promoted during the campaign.

Statistics show that 76% of mothers aged over 30 breastfeed their babies.

Experts believe less young mothers breastfeed because of a lack of knowledge and social pressures.

Speaking at the launch at the Wales Millennium Centre, the singer, who lives in the Vale of Glamorgan, said she initially had a breast infection but later enjoyed the feeling of bonding with her baby and even fed her in public.

I mostly breastfed at home, but if she really wanted feeding when we were out I've done it in people's houses, and in Boots one time
Charlotter Church

She also spoke about the convenience of breast feeding at the Mother's Milk launch.

"Your boobs are kind of stuck to you, so you're going to have food ready for your child," she said.

"It's cheaper, it's clean, it's the right temperature and everybody knows mother's milk is best."

Asked if she had suffered any problems breastfeeding, she said: "I had mastitis which is not the most pleasant thing at all and I thought "what am I going to do? It hurts too much!"

"But I fed her through it otherwise your milk dries up. You've got to persevere."

Commenting on the low levels of young mothers breastfeeding, Ms Church said: "I think people don't like the look of it, so to speak.

"People are more selfish these days and keep their body to themselves.

"I mostly breastfed at home, but if she really wanted feeding when we were out I've done it in people's houses, and in Boots one time - they had a room which was good - and a couple of times in restaurants.

"Nobody commented on me not to because I wouldn't have been that happy with those people. It's our right."

My mother breastfed me until I was 14 months because she reckons she was skint so it was the only option!
Charlotte Church

She said her boyfriend Henson was never jealous of her time breastfeeding Ruby and added he would not have been happy if she had not breastfed.

"He knows all about nutrition," she said. "Gavin is not that person at all. He wanted what's best for the baby."

The singer also made sure he experienced night-time feeds.

"Gavin was pretty good. I was kind of mean and woke him up even though there was not much he could do about it because I was breastfeeding."

She said that once Ruby was six months old she began bottle feeding.

"I was glad to have my body back then, but a part of me was sad to finish it," she said.

"It's such a bonding thing with the baby, also it's nature's way of saying "sit down and have five - you have just given birth", rather than just giving the baby to someone else with a bottle to feed.

'Well behaved'

"Now Ruby is on formula I have to cool the bottles and things, nothing can be spontaneous."

She added: "My mother breastfed me until I was 14 months because she reckons she was skint so it was the only option! She really encouraged me to breastfeed."

Speaking about Ruby, she said: "She's just a perfect baby, so well behaved."

Sue Sky, breastfeeding co-ordinator for Wales, said: "There is a great deal of evidence to show that breastfeeding provides important health benefits for both mum and baby.

"Breastfed babies visit the doctor less often than those who are fed infant formula, and they are less likely to have heart disease when they get older.

"For mums, it reduces the risk of ovarian and breast cancer and helps them to get their figures back faster.

"Charlotte Church is a fantastic example of a young mother deciding that breast really is best and we hope that she will serve as a role model to her many thousands of female fans."


SEE ALSO
Breastfeeding benefits promoted
08 May 08 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife
Antenatal link to breastfeeding
26 Feb 08 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife

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