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Loughborough researchers develop infant feeding manual for teen mums-to-be

Researchers from Loughborough University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences have developed an infant feeding manual to educate young mums-to-be about the benefits of breastfeeding.

The manual is currently being piloted with a group of pregnant women aged 20 and under. They have been asked to read one section of the manual per week for five weeks and to work through a series of short activities that encourage them to think about the infant feeding options available to them. Each section of the manual focuses on a different element of infant feeding, such as the benefits of breastfeeding and tackling common concerns.

Breastfeeding rates in the UK are among the lowest in Western Europe, and figures show that younger, less well-educated mothers living in deprived areas are particularly unlikely to breastfeed.

Dr Gemma Witcomb, one of the leaders of the British Academy-funded project, says: “Exclusively breastfeeding for six months or more provides health benefits for both mother and child, but many young mothers are reluctant to breastfeed their baby.

“We want to encourage those who are physically able to initiate and sustain breastfeeding for as long as possible, and to urge them not to be deterred by perceived myths about breastfeeding or pressures from non-breastfeeding peers.”

The manual has been very well received by health professionals who work with pregnant teenagers in the UK.

Dr Emma Haycraft, a senior lecturer in psychology at Loughborough, says: “The initial feedback from those who work with young mums-to-be is that our feeding manual is a novel, effective way to educate and empower pregnant young women about infant feeding.

“We hope to be able to share this resource more widely once our pilot study has been completed.”

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: PR 14/147

  1. For further information about the project, email the researchers at

  2. World Breastfeeding Week, which starts today and runs until 7 August, aims to promote and support breastfeeding.

  3. Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

    It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year title in 2008-09 and has been named Sports University of the Year 2013-14 by The Times and Sunday Times. Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and has been voted England's Best Student Experience for six years running in the Times Higher Education league. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

    In 2015 the University will open an additional academic campus in London’s new innovation quarter. Loughborough University in London, based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, will offer postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities.


Hannah Baldwin
Head of PR
Loughborough University
T: 01509 222239

PR team

Telephone: 01509 222224