Cumbrian rugby stars urge men to support breastfeeding

Cumbrian rugby stars urge men to support breastfeeding

The NHS is urging Cumbrian men to get behind breastfeeding after local surveys have found that they are embarrassed by women breastfeeding in public.

Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has launched a new campaign, which is fronted by Martin Ostler, who plays for Barrow Raiders, and Steve Stamper, former Carlisle Rugby Club Captain. The campaign is called ‘Breastfeeding is a Team Effort’ and aims to encourage Cumbrian men to support breastfeeding.

The campaign will be launched during the last week of November (26th – 30th Nov) and is aimed at men aged 25 – 35 in Carlisle, Workington, and Barrow.

Steve Stamper, 33, is the former Carlisle Rugby Club Captain and a self-employed property landlord. He has a two year old daughter called Emilia. He said: “Nichola and I believe that breastfeeding is the most natural way for a baby to start life. I felt happy for Nichola that she was able to provide for our daughter at such an important time. It was heart-warming to see the enjoyment Emilia got from feeding.

“I agreed to support this campaign as it is something I believe in and am happy to stand up and say so. It is nothing to be embarrassed about. Rugby players especially are not embarrassed about their bodies and I think more men should be supportive of women who want to breastfeed but perhaps feel uncomfortable about it.”

Mary Kiddy, Consultant Nurse Public Health & Professional Head of Nursing for Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, explains:“We have spoken to over 100 men in the streets of Carlisle, Workington and Barrow and found that many men have strong opinions over breastfeeding in public. Around a quarter of all men found breastfeeding uncomfortable or embarrassing – 27% in Workington, 26% in Carlisle, and 22% in Barrow. In Workington 40% of men would not/were unsure if they would encourage their partner to breastfeed and in Carlisle 20% of men did not feel it was their responsibility to know how to support their partner with breastfeeding.

We are hoping that this campaign will encourage men to feel more comfortable with women breastfeeding in public, if that is how she chooses to feed her baby. We think that this will make women feel less embarrassed and increase breastfeeding rates.

There are many ways men can support their partner with breastfeeding. These range from providing her with emotional  support, helping her to discreetly feed in public if she feels embarrassed, to complimenting her – tell her how proud of her you are and that she looks nice even if she feels awful!”

Martin Ostler, 32, Barrow Raiders player and personal trainer, has a two year old daughter called Mia. He said:

“Ellie and I decided to breastfeed because it is healthier for Mia – it means we can be confident that she is getting all the vitamins and nutrients that she needs. As a personal trainer I am always promoting good nutrition for adults, so of course I want the best possible nutrition for Mia. Mia has hardly ever been ill. Another great benefit of breastfeeding is that it is free!

“I don’t mind Ellie, or any other woman, breastfeeding – I think it is a natural thing to do. If it is the best thing for the family then I am all for it. Most women do it really discreetly so you can’t even tell.”

As part of the campaign Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is launching a free app called FeedFriendly, which will allow people in Cumbria to easily find breastfeeding friendly locations nearby. There will also be lots of helpful tips and advice for both men and women. More details will be available during the campaign week.