Pupils as young as 11 could have lessons in breastfeeding to make it more widespread.
Leading doctors say the move is needed because only 0.5 per cent of British women are still breastfeeding after one year – the lowest rate in the world.
Girls – and boys – would be taught the basics in sex and relationship classes at secondary school.
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, which made the recommendation, said many women were too embarrassed to breastfeed in cafes or public places and worry they might be judged by other mothers for doing it wrong.
Only 0.5 per cent of British women are still breastfeeding after one year – the lowest rate in the world (file image)
It believes that educating girls and boys about breastfeeding from an early age will help ‘normalise’ the practice and remove any potential stigma.
‘Regrettably, the attitudes of a large part of society mean breastfeeding is not always encouraged,’ said Professor Neena Modi, who is president of the royal college.
‘Support is patchy, advice is not always consistent and often overly dogmatic, support at work not always conducive to continued breastfeeding and, perhaps most worryingly, breastfeeding in public is often stigmatised.’
Viv Bennett, the chief nurse at Public Health England, said: ‘We can all help women wherever they are. Creating a wider culture of encouragement and support will help make a mother’s experience all the more positive.’
Breastfeeding has many benefits for mother and child and is known to prevent infections, stave off obesity and boost IQ. Yet despite numerous ‘breast is best’ campaigns by the Government and the NHS, rates have barely improved.
The royal college said that the Government should ‘ensure familiarity with breastfeeding is included as part of statutory personal, health and social education in schools’.
Viv Bennett, the chief nurse at Public Health England, wants to help more women
Taught at secondary level from the age of 11, these PSHE lessons include sex education and sessions on relationships, bullying and human rights.
The royal college is also calling for ‘breastfeeding breaks’ at work as well as designated rooms and fridges. Women should be allowed to leave to express milk into a bottle or go to a nearby crèche and feed their baby directly.
And if women choose to take breastfeeding breaks, their salaries and career should not be affected.
A survey of 1,000 mothers found many gave up early because they lacked support or worried their baby was not getting enough milk. According to the research by Mumsnet, 27 per cent of women who stopped after one