Islington is fast becoming one of the best places to breastfeed your baby in the capital.
Islington is the latest place to introduce the Breastfeeding Welcome scheme, a campaign to encourage public venues to welcome women who want to breastfeed their baby. So far, over 150 different places throughout the borough have signed up to join the scheme, including cafés, pubs, council offices and health centres.
Although everyone knows that ‘breast is best’ for babies, most mothers in the UK stop breastfeeding before they want to . One of the reasons given for this is that they felt uncomfortable breastfeeding in public. It is hoped the scheme will increase the numbers of local women who breastfeed and help them to breastfeed for longer.
Each venue displays a Breastfeeding Welcome window sticker to show mothers who wish to breastfeed that they will be welcome. Some venues were signed up after volunteer mothers acted as ‘mystery shoppers’ to see if staff were open to them breastfeeding their babies.
A series of photographs – Out and About: Breastfeeding Welcome in Islington – has been created as a joint project between local mothers, artist Martina Mullaney and scheme co-ordinator Tracy Karkut-Law. Badges displaying the slogan ‘Breast for tea is best for me’ were designed by local teenage mums with arts project, Inspire!, to celebrate the launch of the Breastfeeding Welcome scheme. All the images can be seen online (see below for details.)
In a recent survey (2), 31% of mothers interviewed said being worried about being asked to leave a venue would stop them from breastfeeding while out; 51% said lack of a suitable place would stop them.
The UK departments of Health recommend that babies be fed nothing but breast milk for the first six months. Breastfeeding is the single most important thing a mother can do for the life-long health of her child.
Facts and more information
• Out and About: Breastfeeding Welcome in Islington runs from 21-26 June at The Gallery, Central Library, Fieldway Crescent, London N5 1PF (020 7527 7001).
The exhibition can also be seen online at www.facebook.com/breastfeedingwelcome.nhs.islington and www.islington.nhs.uk/breastfeeding-and-weaning from 21 June.
• According to a 2005 poll, nine out of ten new mothers who stopped breastfeeding within six months would have preferred to breastfeed for longer. (1)
• In Islington, 89% of mothers start breastfeeding when their baby is born (3). However, only 46.5% of Islington babies are fully breastfed at 6 – 8 weeks, and 26% are partially breastfed.
• In a recent survey (2), 31% of mothers often breastfeed their baby out and about in the borough and 31% sometimes breastfeed their babies when out. A Breastfeeding Welcome sign would influence the decision to breastfeed in 86% of the women interviewed.
• The Breastfeeding Welcome Scheme was developed by the Breastfeeding Manifesto Coalition and participation is currently available to local authorities and health trusts across the UK. The scheme provides a cost effective way for local areas to promote breastfeeding in their local community and protect mother’s right to breastfeeding when out and about.
• Breastfeeding Welcome is part of Islington’s Healthy Eating campaign and Islington’s Food Strategy.
• The World Health Organisation and the UK Departments of Health strongly recommend that babies be fed nothing but breast milk for their first six months of life and should breastfeed for at least a year. Breastmilk has qualities that protect babies that are not found in formula milk or other milk products.
• Breastfeeding significantly reduces the risk of babies having:
– diarrhoea and vomiting
– respiratory and urinary tract infections
• NHS Islington is now part of the Whittington Health Trust
• Breastfeeding Welcome venues include: all Islington libraries, council offices, sports centres, children’s centres, health centres and parks, The Citizen’s Advice Bureau, three churches, the Islington Museum, the London Canal Museum, The Ecology Centre and the Screen on the Green cinema. Cafes, bars and restaurants include the famous Duke of Cambridge organic gastro pub, The Rosemary Branch theatre pub, Costa Coffee and the Garden Court Café at Sadler’s Wells theatre. Many other venues, from the city farm at Freightliners, to old-fashioned family-run cafes, are now breastfeeding welcome too.