In an exciting new joint initiative, health and children’s services across Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire are launching ‘thank you’ cards to celebrate and normalise breastfeeding, and to show we welcome and support breastfeeding families.
While it is now illegal to prevent or stop a mother from breastfeeding her infant in public (Equality Act 2012), there is a difference between feeling allowed to breastfeed and feeling welcome. In the early days in particular new mothers may not feel very confident about leaving the security of home with a breastfed baby, and this can mean they choose not to breastfeed or that they stop breastfeeding before they want to. The UK has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world with only 34% of babies receiving any breastmilk at 6 months.
The new ‘thank you’ cards are part of a strategy to change the conversation around infant feeding, by encouraging the creation of supportive communities around new mothers who wish to breastfeed.
Amy Carr, mum to William, eight-months, said: “Even before I had William I’d see a woman breastfeeding in public and feel like I wanted to say something. I was worried that I might make her self-conscious, so I’d smile instead and hope she knew why. The cards are a good way to recognise someone feeding, and you could make a mum feel less alone. It could be that it’s her first feed in public and that one thing could make her feel like she could do it again, and she’ll then look out for other mums. It’s a small thing that could make a huge difference”.
At the launch of the scheme, each new mum who breastfeeds her baby will be given a card by her midwife. Cards will also be offered to breastfeeding mums by health visiting teams, children centres, Doula, Peer Support groups, and available through cafes and other premises that welcome breastfeeding mums and their babies. They are an unobtrusive way of recognising what she is doing for her baby. There is no need to draw attention to her, the card can simply be given with a smile or a ‘well done!’
Danielle McKenzie, mum to Max, 20-months, and a breastfeeding peer supporter, said: “I got lots of lovely comments in the early days which I appreciated. I was feeding him when he was seven days old and an elderly couple came up and said how lovely it was to see a breast-feeding mum. The cards could help sway the balance a bit on social media, because it can give the impression you’ll experience negative comments. Women seeing the cards on social media instead might feel less anxious”.
For mums who have been given a card, coming across it in their bag or purse will hopefully provide a positive reinforcement over time. We ask that women who have found the cards helpful will then pass them on to other mothers that they see breastfeeding when out and about.
Infant Feeding Leads across the Hull and the East Riding said: “Breastfeeding, Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere”
“We all work together to support and normalise breastfeeding so that mothers are able to have the freedom to feed their babies whenever and wherever they want. We aim to ensure all mums, no matter how they decide to feed their baby/babies feel supported.”
Katie Walshaw, mum to Amy aged 3, said: “I think the Thankyou cards are such a good idea, if I was given one it would help me to feel accepted and supported and be an extra boost of confidence”
There are lots and lots of benefits of breastfeeding, here are just a few:
- Reduces risk of infections in infancy – gastro-enteritis, respiratory infections
- Reduces risk of obesity in later life
- Reduce the risk of SIDS
- Completely free!
- Its environmentally friendly, Green
- Reduces the risk of osteoporosis
- Reduces the risk breast cancer
For further information about breastfeeding visit the NHS Start for Life website here.