A Better Start Southend and Southend-on-Sea Borough Council are working together with a scheme to support and enable mothers to feel confident to breastfeed in public places. The scheme also ensures that mothers can feed their babies in comfort and without interruption or embarrassment. The arrival of the scheme comes with breastfeeding in the spotlight with National Breastfeeding Celebration Week running from 25-29 June 2018.

The Southend Supports Breastfeeding scheme, developed in partnership with Public Health, will see public venues across the borough sign up with an agreement to welcome breastfeeding mothers, with retail shops, cafes, leisure centres, museums, transport, retail centres and restaurants set to sign up. Organisations that participate will display a window sticker of the ‘Southend Supports Breastfeeding’ logo to let mothers know that they are welcome to breastfeed there. The logo was designed and approved by parents involved in our co-production project that SAVS is running for A Better Start Southend.

Breastfeeding is widely recognised as having lifelong health benefits, for baby and mother, and helps develop emotional bonds which contribute to the child’s overall health and wellbeing. However, 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[1]. By signing up, organisations are contributing to social and cultural change by supporting breastfeeding families to have a positive experience of breastfeeding out and about.

Sabrina Kerr, Advanced Health Improvement Practitioner at A Better Start Southend and Southend-on-Sea Borough Council says “Breastfeeding is a public health priority as it contributes to reducing health inequalities. A parent’s choice to breastfeed or bottle-feed is influenced by various physical, mental, emotional and social circumstances. In Southend, we want parents to feel respected and supported to make this choice, which is why the scheme is so important.”

Dawn Jeakings, Manager at the Royals Shopping Centre, one of the first organisations to sign up to the scheme, said: “As a family-orientated shopping centre, which regularly hosts events designed for mums and their children, this campaign fits perfectly with our ethos. Southend Supports Breastfeeding is fantastic, as it highlights the fact that women shouldn’t feel shamed by feeding their child, or have to hide away. It’s a completely natural thing to do, and whilst we do have private feeding facilities in The Royals, if women choose to feed in a public space in the centre, then that’s absolutely fine!”

To find out more about the scheme or to sign up your organisation contact Sabrina Kerr on 01702 212804 or SabrinaKerr@southend.gov.uk  


[1] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/breastfeeding-first-days/

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