Gill Walton, chief executive of the RCM said: “Evidence clearly shows that breastfeeding in line with WHO guidance brings optimum benefits for the health of both mother and baby. However the reality is that often some women for a variety of reasons struggle to start or sustain breastfeeding.” Midwives should promote “informed choice,” she said.“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 senior midwife said.Britain’s rates of breastfeeding are the lowest in the developed world, with just one per cent of new mothers feeding their children purely by breast by the age of six months.The professional body said women should not be made to feel “guilty or embarassed” about how they feed their children. We recognise that some women cannot or do not wish to breastfeed and rely on formula milkGill Walton, RCM Midwives should stop trying to shame new mothers into breastfeeding, and respect their choices, according to new advice from the Royal College of Midwives.The shift in position is a marked softening from previous guidance, which emphasised the “risks” of formula feeding while spelling out the benefits of feeding by breast.The new advice still says that babies should be breastfed exclusively for the first six months of their life, in line with advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO).But it says that new mothers should be given information, advice and support – whatever choice they make.And the advice says women who want to bottle-feed their children should be given help to do so safety, and support to encourage the bonding process. But rates of breastfeeding in the UK are the lowest in the world.One third of children in the UK are breastfed at six months, with just one per cent only receiving breast-milk by this stage.The new stance by the RCM follows a long debate about the best way to encourage mothers to breastfeed.Some mothers have argued that messages such as “breast is best” are counterproductive, and mean women are more likely to give up breastfeeding if they are struggling to do so.Abi Wood, Head of Campaigns at the National Childbirth Trust, said: “We believe that parents need information and support for breastfeeding and bottle-feeding and it’s up to them to decide how to feed their babies, so we wholeheartedly support the RCM’s new statement which tallies with our position.”She said women who want decide to breastfeed needed more support.“We think that women who decide to breastfeed need support to do so and our breastfeeding counsellors supported around 20,000 women last year. We also train around 300 breastfeeding peer support workers a year, who voluntarily help mums across the UK. However more peer support schemes need to be funded as services are so inconsistent,” she said. We believe that parents need information and support for breastfeeding and bottle-feeding and it’s up to them to decide how to feed their babiesNational Childbirth Trust “We recognise that some women cannot or do not wish to breastfeed and rely on formula milk. They must be given all the advice and support they need on safe preparation of bottles and responsive feeding to develop a close and loving bond with their baby,” Ms Walton said.She said women who chose to breastfeed also needed more support.“Women should not feel guilty or embarrassed about breastfeeding in public and as a society we must continue to develop a culture of positive support for women who wish to breastfeed and educating the public is key to this,” she said.Research has found that breastfed babies have fewer health problems, such as chest infections, and are less likely to develop health problems such as diabetes, or become obese, when they are older.The NHS recommends that mothers exclusively breastfeed their babies during the first six months, continuing to do as children are weaned on to solid foods. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.