500 venues show support for breastfeeding mums

Tuesday, 1 August 2017 – Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement
500 venues show support for breastfeeding mums

The Public Health Agency’s (PHA) Breastfeeding Welcome Here scheme has reached the milestone of having 500 venues signed up to the initiative which aims to provide supportive environments for breastfeeding mums.

The MAC in Belfast has become the 500th member of Breastfeeding Welcome Here, and this World Breastfeeding Week (1–7 August) it joins all types of businesses, tourist venues and council facilities that are already part of the scheme.​

The venues have pledged to welcome breastfeeding mothers and agreed to display a pink sticker and certificate which shows that they are members of the scheme, with staff aware of the need to be supportive of mothers on the premises.

Anne McReynolds, Chief Executive of the MAC, said: “We’re delighted to become the 500th member of the Breastfeeding is Welcome Here initiative. The MAC is proud to support this fantastic scheme which we hope will make it easier for women to recognise places that welcome them as breastfeeding mothers. The MAC prides itself on being is a place for everyone and we will continue to back initiatives that help us play our part in ensuring that we live in a creative and confident society that celebrates diversity.”

A list of members of the scheme can be found on the recently redesigned PHA’s website www.breastfedbabies.org. The site now features an interactive map so you can find your nearest Breastfeeding Welcome Here venue.

The site also has information on mother-to-mother support which is available from local breastfeeding support groups and peer support volunteers, information for partners and families who can offer support to mothers, and information highlighting what dads need to know about breastfeeding, offering practical advice and tips on how they can help their partner.

Janet Calvert, Regional Breastfeeding Lead for the PHA, said: “The Breastfeeding Welcome Here scheme was created to help show community support for breastfeeding mums and reaching the milestone of 500 members is a significant achievement.

“Breastfeeding is the best start in life. Showing increased support for breastfeeding mums is really important, as Northern Ireland has the lowest breastfeeding rates in the UK and one of the lowest rates in Europe

“We know that for many mums getting started isn’t easy. Information and support is essential, both before baby is born and especially in the early days so that mums can build their confidence and stay with their decision to breastfeed.

“Creating that supportive environment helps make breast feeding more acceptable and the normal way to feed baby. It is also something that we can all play an active part in building and help mums feel more comfortable about feeding in public as we know this is something that many mums are apprehensive about.

“Breastfeeding is normal, no matter where it happens, and this is something that we want to see happen more often and are highlighting in World Breastfeeding Week.”

Ends

Notes to editors:

  • The Department of Health strategy Breastfeeding – A Great Start. A Strategy for Northern Ireland 2013–2023 includes key strategic outcomes which state that: “Supportive environments for breastfeeding exist throughout Northern Ireland” and “Government Departments and statutory bodies recognise the value of breastfeeding”.
  • Approximately 64% of mothers here start breastfeeding, compared with 83% in England, 74% in Scotland and 71% in Wales. That figure falls to 33% of mothers breastfeeding at six weeks and 16% at six months.

Caption: Baby Shannon McCarthy with mum Emma helps celebrate the MAC Belfast becoming the 500th member of the Public Health Agency’s (PHA) Breastfeeding Welcome Here scheme, with Mary Black, Assistant Director for Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement at the PHA, and Lyndsey-Anne Murphy and Julie Stewart from the MAC.