Breastfeeding-friendly council leads the way for Newark and Sherwood businesses

31 October 2016

Nursing mothers who want to breastfeed their babies in premises owned by Newark and Sherwood District Council can be confident of a kind welcome and clean, comfortable environment – and the council is encouraging more local businesses and venues to become breastfeeding-friendly places.

The council’s leisure and environment committee recently decided to take steps to welcome breastfeeding mums wherever the public have access to council buildings. The initiative is part of a county-wide scheme to promote the benefits of breastfeeding and encourage other businesses and organisations to make the same commitment to helping nursing mums feel confident about feeding their babies in public.

Mel Coton, the council’s health improvement officer, said: “Nottinghamshire in general and Newark and Sherwood are a little behind the national average for breastfeeding and we want to remind people of the benefits for mothers and babies, as well as encouraging businesses to be supportive in providing the right environment and making sure that their staff make nursing mums welcome.

“We already have a number of stores, cafes, coffee shops, pubs and restaurants who have satisfied the criteria to gain Breastfeeding Friendly status and they get a certificate and sticker to alert nursing mums, so it’s good for business as well as being good for mother and baby.” These premises can be found on the Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust website

Businesses or organisations which want to apply to the scheme can receive more  information including  a self-assessment checklist by emailing mel.coton@nsdc.info. Using those documents, they can commit to supporting breastfeeding in all public areas, ensuring that staff are positive and welcoming and that any designated breastfeeding area is clean, comfortable, clearly signed and equipped with a suitable chair.

And if a customer complains about a mother because she is breastfeeding, staff need to explain why the customer complaining should move to another area, not the mother and baby. Under the Equality Act 2010, it is unlawful for businesses to discriminate against a mother who is breastfeeding a child of any age – meaning mothers cannot be asked to move or leave if a complaint is made by another customer regarding the breastfeeding activity.

Health benefits for breastfeeding mothers include lower risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer and lower risk of post-natal depression, while breastfed babies are less prone to ear infections, chest infections, gastroenteritis, tooth decay, obesity and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Breastfeeding has also been linked to higher educational attainment.

“Breast milk is packed full of antibodies, hormones and enzymes to help the baby grow and develop, and it’s easier for babies to digest. While formula milk for bottle-fed babies provides everything they need, some of the added benefits of breastmilk cannot be replicated any other way,” said Mel.

“But while we’re trying to promote breastfeeding we don’t want to make mums who are unable or choose not to breastfeed feel bad. It’s a personal choice. We just want to make sure that mums who are able and want to breastfeed, are encouraged and supported and can find public places to go where they know they will be welcomed.”

Through the Breastfeeding Friendly campaign the council hopes to help create a wider network of public places that promote breastfeeding, “so that mothers don’t feel they have to cover themselves and baby with a towel if they don’t want to and are not afraid that somebody is going to confront them and tell them that they shouldn’t be doing that in public,” said Mel.

“We just want to normalise breastfeeding again, because at one time it was the only way for a mother to feed her baby. How much more normal can you get really? ”

Anyone needing more information can go to the council’s web page or contact Mel Coton on 01636 655990.

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