No-one has the right to make you feel bad. To make you feel uncomfortable. To make you feel unwelcome. No-one has the right to take away your confidence as you try to feed your child (heck you are keeping them alive in a lot of cases!) but a recent survey conducted by Lansinoh has shown that society’s perception of breastfeeding in public still often throws up negative and less than supportive opinions. These opinions and the worries they can bring new mothers (and even the more experienced ones) have been tied to the UK’s low breasting rates and it is time it stops. Breastfeeding is a personal journey and an individual choice, but that choice should be the mother’s and it angers me to think that opinions of strangers in the street or across from me in a cafe could impact so significantly on how I nurture and feed my child.
I started my breastfeeding journey with my first child over three years ago now. I won’t lie and say it was easy but equally it was not as difficult as I know it was with several of my Mum friends. It seemed to me to simply be the way I would feed my newborn baby and as I grew in confidence as a Mum, and fed my boy for longer, I became an advocate for nursing out in public. Whereas I had originally only breastfed with a muslin over my baby boy (much to his annoyance and confusion), three years down the line I now feed my second child aged one, no cover in sight, standing up on a crowded train with quite frankly not even a smidgen of a worry about what others around me think. You see I am armed with the belief that what I am doing is my choice, a choice I should be free to make with no judgement just as a parent feeding their child formula will receive no judgement from me. Breastfeeding is the best choice for me and my daughter. Finally I am protected by the law which in the UK allows me to breastfeed in public absolutely anywhere I like. Along with my own self-belief and frankly a “go on, come at me if you dare” attitude I have developed working on approximately 4 hours sleep each night for three years, I have found that being comfortable whilst breastfeeding has really helped me build my confidence feeding in public.
When I had my first child I leaked milk constantly and needed to change out my breast pads every few hours and after every feed. I went and bought a well known high-street shop’s own brand of budget breast pads. Biggest waste of money I have spent trying to save money ever! They were so itchy and didn’t absorb the milk so I got thrush and it was just horrible. Luckily a friend gave me her last few Lanisnoh breast pads as she had just stopped breastfeeding her child. Well straight away I realised the mistake I had made trying to cut corners and save a few pennies. I think I went around telling anyone who would listen (and those who weren’t that interested too – sorry Keith but you were an excellent new Dad and nodded away) that Lanisnoh were the best and had saved my poor bruised boobs which was true. Along with the breast pads I will swear to their nipple cream being absolutely life saving especially for day three when the milk “comes in”. So when I heard about the research Lanisnoh had done in relation to British attitudes to nursing in public, I knew it came from a trusted source and that they would have my full backing in spreading the information so we can work to stop the embarrassment and help more women feed with confidence!
GETTING BREASTFEEDING OUT IN THE OPEN
Lansinoh launched the Feed with Confidence Awards last week to coincide with World Breastfeeding Week (1st-7th August). The awards are designed to celebrate places and people across the country supporting breastfeeding mums.
In 2015, 776,950 babies were born in the UK. Yet just 0.5% of UK mums are breastfeeding their newborn at 12 months, despite recommendations from the World Health Organisation to continue breastfeeding into your baby’s second year. With British breastfeeding rates among the worst in the world, could the culprit be society’s attitudes towards breastfeeding?
To understand if there is a stigma attached to breastfeeding in public, Lansinoh conducted research to gauge public opinion. The new research quashed common misconceptions, revealing that the over 65s are the most accepting and that men are more comfortable with it than women.
|Most Uncomfortable Places|
|Least Uncomfortable Places|
Witnessing a woman breastfeeding in a café, restaurant or pub was uncomfortable for an average of 46% of people. Despite the most comfortable public spaces being revealed as the great outdoors, a surprising percentage of people still felt uncomfortable at the park (17%) and beach (16%).
People surveyed were least accepting towards breastfeeding in front of teenagers, with almost half of respondents agreeing it makes them feel uncomfortable. Over a third of people surveyed were not even comfortable seeing a woman breastfeed in front of another woman.
Although lack of support from policy makers and opinion leaders was the least popular reason for low breastfeeding rates, 1 in 3 still felt that it’s a significant root cause despite it being illegal for anyone to ask a breastfeeding woman to leave a public place, such as a cafe, shop or public transport. More than half of people agreed that rates are low because women don’t want to risk abuse.
“We’re committed to supporting all mums who choose to breastfeed, and Feed With Confidence is an important initiative for us because it highlights the places and the people who are doing exactly that,” explains Kevin Vyse-Peacock, CEO, Lansinoh Laboratories. “The more we encourage openness and acceptance within society, the more confident mums will become – and that’s good news for everyone.”
Michelle Lyne, Professional Education Advisor at The Royal College of Midwives (RCM), says: “There has been significant and reliable evidence produced over recent years to show that breastfeeding has important health advantages for both baby and mother. The RCM believes that breastfeeding is the best way to get the baby off to a good start in life and has a positive impact on mother-baby relationships and nurturing of maternal and infant mental health.”
“Women breastfeeding should not be made to feel uncomfortable or guilty. The Equality Act 2010 makes it illegal for anyone to ask a breastfeeding woman to stop breastfeeding, or cover up or leave a public place, such as a cafe, shop or public transport.”
“Educating the public is really the key to developing a culture of positive support for breastfeeding women right across society. However, we must remember to ensure that women have access to skilled advice and support to help them to initiate and sustain breastfeeding.”
The Feed With Confidence Awards recognise people and places that help to support mums and positively change perceptions. The awards are supported by the Lansinoh Feed With Confidence Ambassador: Al Ferguson of The Dad Network. To make a nomination, please visit www.lansinoh.co.uk/feedwithconfidence. The closing date for entries is the 31st December 2017 and the winners will be announced in January.