Gill O’Connor, Infant Feeding and Breastfeeding Development Coordinator: Breastfeeding in public

Breastfeeding has been in the public eye recently with World Breastfeeding Week coming up at the start of August, less than two months after we celebrated National Breastfeeding Week in June. It is the June campaign that I want to talk about here, which focussed on support for breastfeeding mothers.

When considering the theme, it is really important to remember that breastfeeding support doesn’t just mean support from professionals. It is from friends, family and importantly Southend as a borough. Every day in Southend, hundreds of babies are being breastfed outside the home, but most of the time we don’t notice and neither does anyone else.

Some mothers have no problem breastfeeding in public and some mothers are shy but want to have the freedom to feed their babies where they want. We want to support them and create an environment where everyone who wants to breastfeed in public can.

The Equality Act 2010 says that it is discrimination to treat a woman unfavourably because she is breastfeeding. It applies to anyone providing services, benefits, facilities and premises to the public, public bodies, further and higher education bodies and association.

Sadly, we do see well-publicised occasions when someone decides to object, and this grabs attention unfortunately, but on the whole most people are either indifferent or it can bring back happy memories of feeding their own children. Mothers can be put off by these isolated cases which are unpleasant and make them anxious to breastfeed in public, but it is important to remember they are very infrequent.

I am happy to say that A Better Start Southend has begun to engage with parents to get their views on how to help and support mothers to continue to breastfeed where they want for as long as they want. I am confident that by engaging with parents in this way, we will help to make Southend a breastfeeding friendly borough.

Information for mothers

The NHS have a webpage about breastfeeding in public, which includes videos and useful suggestions.

The Equality Act 2010 is the law which bans unfair treatment and helps achieve equal opportunities in the workplace and in wider society.

Maternity Action (a national charity working to end inequality) have an information sheet available to download on Breastfeeding in public places.

These websites also have some ideas and tips on breastfeeding in public too.


  1. Lisa bence says:

    Support is so important for successful breastfeeding. I constantly hit barriers at the start especially from health professionals, gp and health visitors especially. I visited your support group a few thinness at the forum in Southend, it was invaluable in our continued success. Leilani is nearly 10 months and still feeding and growing well! She actually started walking alone this week! So glad I didn’t give up in those early months.

  2. Better Start says:

    That’s really great to hear Lisa 🙂

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