Whipsnade Zoo #FreeToFeed mums Image: Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust

#FreeToFeed is an NHS breastfeeding campaign

On Monday, 25 November, local mums and their children celebrated international conservation charity ZSL Whipsnade Zoo as the 100th organisation to support #FreeToFeed, an NHS breastfeeding campaign.

Families gathered outside the Zoo’s herd of white rhinos to thank the 100 businesses and venues supporting the campaign so far. This also showed that mums really can breastfeed anywhere.

The #FreeToFeed campaign, run by Bedfordshire Community Health Services and Flying Start Luton, with support from local authorities, is encouraging businesses to do their bit to help new mums feel comfortable breastfeeding their children when out and about.

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo commercial manager, Chris Webb, said:

“We are so pleased to be part of the #FreetoFeed campaign, supporting mothers while they visit ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. Home to almost 4,000 animals ZSL Whipsnade Zoo – run by international conservation charity ZSL – is a great place for the whole family to enjoy the outdoors and learn about the incredible wildlife we share our planet with.”

The Zoo is now displaying #FreeToFeed window stickers on each of its entrances, restaurants, and family areas to show their support and to indicate to visitors that breastfeeding is welcome everywhere.

This campaign milestone comes at an important time. Just 51% of mothers across Bedfordshire are breastfeeding 6-8 weeks after their child’s birth. At the same time, UNICEF estimates that 80% of UK mums stop breastfeeding before they want to, often due to lack of support.

Sarah Pickford, practice development lead for Bedfordshire Community Health Services, which is part of Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust, said:

“We recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life, but the longer you breastfeed, the greater the benefits.

“That’s why it’s so important in the long term for mums to build their confidence breastfeeding in public, and for businesses to support them.

“We are really pleased that ZSLWhipsnade Zoo has come on board.”

Under the Equality Act 2010, women have the right to breastfeed in public. The #FreeToFeed campaign is aiming to help more mums feel confident to use this right, and more businesses and venues to openly embrace it.

Visit FreeToFeed if you would like to help to spread the word, access campaign materials (including a guide and window stickers for businesses) or to simply find out more.

You can also find more information about breastfeeding support in Bedfordshire at BabyFriendlySupport