BUSINESSES in Swindon are reluctant to support breastfeeding mothers, according to a survey by the National Childbirth Trust.

And the little help they receive may result in mothers giving up breastfeeding when they return to work.

During a recent survey in which a questionnaire on breastfeeding arrangements was distributed to 15 large Swindon-based employers, only one responded.

While Swindon and Marl-borough NHS Trust was proud to say that it allowed mothers to take breaks to breastfeed and facilities for them to express their breast milk, others companies do not.

This week is Breastfeeding Awareness Week in which the National Childbirth Trust is trying to help businesses understand their role in helping mothers who breastfeed.

Trainee NCT breastfeeding counsellor, Sarah Wilmott, said: "It's great to hear that Swindon and Marlborough NHS Trust have a really positive approach to breastfeeding.

"It's a real shame that other local employers weren't so keen to promote the policies they may have to support breastfeeding mother returning to work.

"Many mothers think that they will not be able to combine breastfeeding and working, but with the right support there is no reason why it can't be done."

Swindon Council, Nation-wide and Zurich, three of the town's biggest employers, have facilities at their offices where mothers can express breast milk and keep it in a special fridge at the correct temperature.

South Swindon MP and mother-of-one, Julia Drown, who tried in vain to allow mothers to breastfeed in Parliament, said: "I'm pleased that when I question most Swindon employers they are relaxed about breastfeeding and do allow women to breastfeed or express milk at work.

"But this survey shows that more needs to be done to get this positive attitude spread to both employers and employees. I congratulate the NCT on their work in supporting mothers to do what is best for their babies."

Advice from the World Health Organisation recommends that babies do best if they are given only breast milk for the first six months, but the latest infant feeding survey shows that only one in five UK babies receive anybreast milk at six months.

Swindon Chamber of Commerce chief executive, Dennis Grant, said: "This is very unlikely to have a huge impact on businesses in Swindon because most mothers take time off work while breastfeeding."

For more information on breastfeeding at work call 0870 4448707.