We want to ensure all women have the support of their families, friends, employers and local communities to continue exclusively breastfeeding until 6 months, and for as long as they wish after that alongside solid foods.[1] As our health and education services embed the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative within their practice, we are working with other community venues to increase the social acceptance of breastfeeding.

The benefits received by breastfed babies can play an important role in providing them with the best start in life, meaning that improving breastfeeding rates is a priority both in Southend and across the country. Babies who receive breast milk are responsively fed and it is not always easy for mothers to find a convenient and welcoming place to do so. Research shows that many women give up breastfeeding sooner than they want to and more than one third (34%) of women reported feeling uncomfortable and embarrassed to breastfeeding in public spaces. [2] We want all women in Southend to feel supported and confident to breastfeed at home and in the community.

Southend Borough Council and A Better Start Southend are introducing a scheme to encourage public venues across the borough to welcome women who want to breastfeed their babies. We will be working with retail shops, cafes, leisure centres, museums, transport and restaurants to join the scheme. Each venue taking part will display a ‘Southend Supports Breastfeeding’ window sticker to show mothers who wish to breastfeed that they will be welcome.

It is a busy time for breastfeeding news as alongside the Southend ‘Supports Breastfeeding Scheme’, we have also had community breastfeeding groups starting which families  in A Better Start areas can attend at any stage of pregnancy and after delivery. These groups are a chance to meet others considering breastfeeding or currently breastfeeding and ask a qualified breastfeeding supporter any questions in a relaxed and friendly environment.

For more information about the groups contact EleanorKing@southendymca.org.uk or click here.

If you would like more information about the breastfeeding support available in the community, please contact abetterstart@pre-school.org.uk or call 01702 356050.

Free Group-based Breastfeeding Support sessions:

Mondays 11am-1pm at Southend YMCA Eco Hub (SS0 7JZ))

Wednesdays 9.30-11.30am at Family Storehouse (SS2 5AW)

Thursdays 10am-12noon at Milton Community Partnership, St Mark’s Church (SS1 1QA)

Thursdays 1-2.30pm at Friars Children’s Centre (SS3 9XX)

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