New campaign urges support for mums who breastfeed in public Image: Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust

Bedfordshire’s #FreeToFeed campaign

The Luton and Bedfordshire #FreeToFeed campaign has been launched by NHS community services and local authorities. 

Businesses, members of the public and other mums are being encouraged to raise awareness of the importance of breastfeeding and to help new mums feel comfortable feeding their children when out and about.

Rebecca, a mum from Bedfordshire, said:

“To be able to breastfeed, I feel quite accomplished, I feel I have an amazing bond with my son, and I’ve given him the best start in life that I could – it’s the best decision I made.

“It’s one of the most amazing gifts you can give to your child, and it’s a shame that it’s become a rare sighting as opposed to the norm.”

Breastfeeding rates falling across England

A survey of more than 350 local mothers, they found that 55% said they felt extremely or very confident breastfeeding out and about. While 32% were somewhat confident and 13% were not confident or not at all confident.

But rates of breastfeeding, which protects children from illness and reduces mothers’ risk of certain cancers, are declining across England.

According to Public Health England, 59% of mothers in Luton, 55% in Bedford Borough, and 49% in Central 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, 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’re even providing stickers for businesses to display and show their support for the campaign.”

Visit FreeToFeed to find out more and to access campaign materials.

You can also find more information about breastfeeding support in Luton and Bedfordshire by using the following links:

www.flyingstartluton.com/parent/additional-services/infant-feeding/

www.cambscommunityservices.nhs.uk/bedfordshire/baby-friendly/support/

Rebecca from Bedfordshire Image: Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust