A new council project designed to raise awareness of the benefits and barriers to breastfeeding is being extended across South Lakeland.
By signing up to the Breastfeeding Friendly Scheme, local businesses and organisations can show their support for mothers and help them to feel more confident.
After a successful trial in Ulverston, where several local cafes and restaurants have been keen to get involved, South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) is now promoting the project further afield.
Alison Coward, SLDC’s Public Protection Officer, said: “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.
“However, concerns about negative public attitudes have been identified as one of the main barriers to breastfeeding. By signing up to our scheme, businesses and organisations will show that they welcome and support breastfeeding families by displaying an easily recognisable sticker and sharing information with their staff and volunteers about why it is so important.”
The right to breastfeed in any 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.
Research suggests that most women have only positive experiences of breastfeeding outside of their home, often without anyone even noticing.
“For a new mum breastfeeding in public can be a daunting task but the more support communities can offer, the easier it becomes,” added Alison.
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 local businesses that have joined the scheme so far is held at www.southlakeland.gov.uk/breastfeedingfriendly
For more information and to join the scheme please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01539 733 333.