Sabrina Kerr, Advanced Health Improvement Practitioner – Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and A Better Start Southend

Finding breastfeeding friendly venues on the go

As a breastfeeding family, when you are out and about you may be wondering where you can breastfeed when your baby is hungry. Breastfed babies feed on demand and this cannot always be assigned to a schedule. In Southend, we now have a Southend Supports Breastfeeding scheme which encourages venues across the borough to welcome families who wish to breastfeed.  We are working with organisations such as retail shops, cafes, leisure centres and museums with many displaying a ‘Southend Supports Breastfeeding’ window sticker to show families who wish to breastfeed that they will be welcome.

Part of the scheme is a fantastic new interactive map on the A Better Start Southend website which lists all the venues which have signed up to the scheme. These venues have made a commitment to providing a friendly and welcoming environment to breastfeeding families. You can type in your street or postcode when you are out and about in Southend to find your closest breastfeeding friendly venue. The page also lets you know the breastfeeding facilities on offer at each location.

Here are 5 top tips for breastfeeding families before heading out with their little ones (adapted from NHS, Breastfeeding in public):

  • Know your rights You shouldn’t ever be made to feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public. It is illegal for anyone to ask a breastfeeding woman to leave a public place, such as a cafe, shop or public transport.
  • Plan ahead – Use the Southend Supports Breastfeeding page to identify venues in Southend where you will feel comfortable breastfeeding when your baby gets hungry. Ask breastfeeding friends for recommendations.
  • Clothes and bra – Some mums like to wear loose tops that can be lifted up. Others, who prefer to keep their tummy covered, wear two stretchy tops, so that the top layer can be lifted up and the bottom layer can be pulled down. A soft non-underwired bra can be easily pulled up or down when you want to feed your baby.
  • Avoid the loos Don’t feel that you should sit in a public toilet to breastfeed. You wouldn’t eat in there, so don’t feel that your baby should be fed there.
  • Baby slings, scarves and cloths – Some mums feel more comfortable laying a scarf or muslin cloth over their chest while they’re breastfeeding. Some baby slings are designed in such a way that you can breastfeed while your baby is still in the sling.

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