Mansfield District Council has adopted a scheme to make the district more welcoming to breastfeeding mums.
With Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust and Nottinghamshire County Council, it has launched an accreditation scheme to encourage businesses and venues in the district and across the county to be more breastfeeding friendly.
Among the scheme’s aims are:
• To enable mothers to feed their babies in comfort and safety
• To be a welcoming and supportive place for nursing mothers
• To provide a welcoming, clean and comfortable environment for women to feed their babies
• To normalise breastfeeding in local communities.
Venues taking part will display stickers and a certificate, letting people know they are welcome to breastfeed.
Mansfield District Council, Mansfield Palace Theatre and Mansfield Museum have all been accredited, Other venues are currently training staff to achieve accreditation.
Despite accepted medical advice that breastfeeding is the best start a baby can have in life – as well as having health benefits for mothers – Mansfield has the lowest percentage of new mums in Nottinghamshire who breastfeed their newborns.
Figures show that around 70% of new mums in the Mansfield area start breastfeeding their baby, but over half of this figure, 43%, have stopped breastfeeding by the time the baby is six to eight weeks old.
Sandra Alvey, Health and Wellbeing Officer at Mansfield District Council, said: “Among the chief reasons that put off mothers breastfeeding their infants are fear of criticism in public and a feeling of being isolated at home, which is so sad because breastfeeding can be a positive experience for both the mother and baby with the right support. We felt we had to try to do something about this.”
The campaign is backed up by a legal requirement under the Equality Act 2010 which makes it unlawful for a business to discriminate against a woman because she is breastfeeding a child. But many businesses do not always know how to support breastfeeding mums so this scheme aims to offer support and advice for businesses and venues to be more friendly towards their youngest customers and their mums.
Cllr Andrew Tristram, Portfolio Holder for the Environment and Wellbeing, said: “Here in Mansfield we want to do all we can to help those mothers who choose to breastfeed because we really want to increase the proportion of mothers who continue to breastfeed beyond six weeks.
“Making nursing mothers feel more accepted and comfortable about feeding their children when out and about in the district is a central part in changing attitudes.”