[M]ore than 70 businesses and organisations across South Lakeland are now signed-up to a scheme designed to raise awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding.
Local café’s, libraries and tourist attractions are among a growing list of places showing support for mothers and helping them to feel more confident.
Dorothy Stubley, proprietor of the Hazelmere café and bakery in Grange over Sands, has a sticker in her window promoting the Breastfeeding Friendly scheme which is run by South Lakeland District Council (SLDC).
“A mum came in the other day who was taking her new baby out in public for the first time. She was thrilled to be able to sit quietly and breastfeed in the café, knowing our staff and customers supported and respected her right to do so,” said Dorothy.
Her regular customers include Laura Jones who breastfed both of her children.
“I’m lucky that I’ve never had a particularly bad experience of breastfeeding in public but I’ve heard that some mums do. When you’re out babies need feeding often and mums need to feel relaxed and confident about it, not worrying about disapproving looks or comments,” said Laura.
After a successful trial in Ulverston last year, SLDC began promoting the Breastfeeding Friendly scheme across the district.
Councillor Eric Morrell, who is Chairman of SLDC and a ward councillor in Grange, says he is delighted the message is spreading.
“To date 78 businesses, café’s, libraries and other organisations have not only declared their support for mothers to breastfeed on their premises but have also agreed to make their staff aware of how mums should be treated.
“As a council we would like to see more places signing up, popping an easily recognisable sticker in their window and sharing information about why breastfeeding is so important,” said Cllr Morrell.
The right to breastfeed in a public place is protected by law. It is illegal to ask a woman to stop breastfeeding, cover up or leave a public place such as a café, shop or on public transport.
In South Lakeland 76.5% of mums are happy to start breastfeeding, that’s slightly higher than the national average of 74.5%. It is hoped projects like this will encourage those mothers who can to continue breastfeeding for six months and beyond.
Fiona Inston, SLDC’s Public Protection Manager, said: “We’ve had a good uptake of the scheme in Kendal and Ulverston and we’d now like to see other communities across the district showing their support.
“Breastfeeding is proven to have benefits for mums and babies, the antibodies in breastmilk offer protection against numerous childhood illnesses and benefits continue into adulthood.
“Mums can’t always predict when they will next need to feed their baby and the NHS recommends that a baby is fed whenever they show signs of hunger, so mums need to be ready to feed wherever they are.
“Research suggests that most women have only positive experiences of breastfeeding outside of their home, often without anyone even noticing. However, concerns about negative public attitudes have been identified as one of the main barriers to breastfeeding.”
To join the Breastfeeding Friendly scheme, business owners must sign a declaration agreeing that they and their staff will support a breastfeeding mother on their premises, offering a seat and a glass of water where possible.
A register of all businesses which have already joined the scheme is available at: www.southlakeland.gov.uk/breastfeedingfriendly
For more information and to join please email: [email protected]