The Government is urging employers to set aside private areas where working mothers can carry on breastfeeding their babies after they return to work.
A public health white paper to be published this week will set out proposals to encourage firms to adopt “breastfeeding-friendly employment policies”.
Ministers argue that increasing breastfeeding rates has the potential to reduce the impact of health inequalities and cut infant mortality levels.
They are particularly concerned that just 66% of women in manual jobs breastfeed compared with 88% of professionals.
Among the measures they are hoping firms will adopt is the setting up of private areas where women can breastfeed their babies or express milk, with facilities to store it for use later.
Ministers also want employers to give mothers greater flexibility around when they take their breaks, enabling them, where possible to return home during the day to breastfeed their child.
“Giving young families good support is key to tackling health inequalities and key to good health in the whole population,” said Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.
“Breastfeeding is one of the best ways to give babies good health, but our society doesn’t always make it easy for new mums to do it. We want to make it easier for new mums to breastfeed.
“If we can make it easier more mums would breastfeed and they might do it for longer, giving their children the best start in life.”