Planes, trains and automobiles: why is breastfeeding on the move still taboo?
Following national success, Lansinoh relaunch the UK’s Feed with Confidence Awards, designed to celebrate the people and places across the UK who are supporting breastfeeding mums.
In 2016, just under 750,000 babies were born in the UK with over 80% of mothers starting to breastfeed their babies. However, according to Public Health England latest statistics on breastfeeding prevalence at six to eight weeks after birth, the number of new mums breastfeeding at this time is 43.7%. This number is low, especially when compared to countries like Norway, which achieves rates of 80% at 3 months. Why does the UK have some of the lowest rates of breastfeeding in the world?
To understand this issue, Lansinoh carried out research amongst 1000 people, looking at perceptions of breastfeeding in public. The study found that people feel uncomfortable with women breastfeeding on public transport, people over 65 are more accepting of mums breastfeeding in public spaces, and people in Wales are more comfortable with breastfeeding compared to other regions in the UK. The Equality Act 2010 made it illegal to ask a woman to stop breastfeeding in public, so why is breastfeeding in public such a national taboo?
A government study found that although 72% of the British public outwardly support public breastfeeding, over half of breastfeeding mums take steps to cover up and 34% feel embarrassed and uncomfortable.3 Research carried out by Lansinoh found that 37% of men and 41% of women find women breastfeeding on a bus uncomfortable, whilst mums breastfeeding on the underground were frowned upon by 34% of men and 44% of women.4 Although a third of those surveyed admitted that they were not comfortable seeing a woman breastfeeding in front of another woman, the research also found that the longer the journey, the less people find an issue with a mother breastfeeding in a public space.
“Breastfeeding is an incredibly important part of relationship building between mother and baby and we’re committed to helping and supporting mums who choose and are able to breastfeed. The Feed with Confidence Awards 2017 received hundreds of nominations from across the UK” explains Kevin Vyse-Peacock, CEO, Lansinoh Laboratories. “We’ve relaunched the campaign to continue to celebrate not just the places that support breastfeeding mums, but also the people who encourage and support breastfeeding in public.
Experts agree that there are positive health benefits for both the child and the mother.
Breastfeeding is known to provide protection against infections, diarrhoea and vomiting in babies and it is thought to reduce the risk of obesity and other diseases in later life.
For mum, breastfeeding lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
Michelle Lyne, Professional Education Advisor at The Royal College of Midwives (RCM), says: “Evidence clearly shows that breastfeeding in line with WHO guidance brings optimum benefits for the health of both mother and baby. The RCM believes that breastfeeding also has a positive impact on mother-baby relationships and nurturing of maternal and infant mental health.
“For women who choose to breastfeed it is so important that they feel supported not only by midwives, but by their family and friends too. Women should not feel guilty or embarrassed about breastfeeding in public and as a society we must continue to develop a culture of positive support for women who wish to breastfeed and educating the public is key to this.
“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.”
Kellie, the 2017 Feed with Confidence Winner said “I was delighted to win the Feed with Confidence 2017 Award. I have worked very hard to create a warm and inviting space for everyone. It can be very daunting for new mums to breastfeed in public and it’s important that they are supported and made to feel welcome”.
The Feed with Confidence Awards 2018 are recognising people and places that help to support mums and positively change perceptions. To make a nomination, please visit www.lansinoh.co.uk/feedwithconfidence. The closing date for entries is the 31st December 2018 and the winners will be announced in January 2019.
Below are some breastfeeding tips to help mums when they are out and about:
- If this is your first time venturing out, buddy up and take a friend with you. They can offer you support if you need it.
- Join a breastfeeding group. It’s great being around other mums who are breastfeeding. They have a wealth of knowledge and experience. But you will find that you also have lots of knowledge other mums will find helpful too.
- If you feel uncomfortable feeding in public, wear a sling or loose clothing. But remember that once baby is latched, you show no more breast than the woman at the next table with her sun top on! Once you’ve started feeding in company a couple of times, you’ll start feeding with confidence!
Notes to the Editor:
Lansinoh was founded by Rasheda Hagen in 1984 to offer breastfeeding women a safe and effective alternative to the highly cosmetic products that were available for nipple soreness – a major reason for failing to establish successful breastfeeding relationships.
When mums choose to breastfeed, Lansinoh believes they should have the support and encouragement they need to experience all its benefits, and ensure baby feels the same. We’ll always take our mothers seriously and their needs personally, creating high-quality products mums want and can trust as they nurture their babies and develop a special bond only formed in motherhood.
World Health Organisation (WHO) recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months (26 weeks) of a baby’s life. After that, giving a baby breast milk alongside family foods for as long as mother and baby want, will help them grow and develop healthily.
For more information about the Royal College of Midwives position statement on Infant Feeding, visit: https://www.rcm.org.uk/sites/default/files/Infant%20Feeding.pdf
Visit www.lansinoh.co.uk for the full range of products and more information. www.twitter.com/lansinohfamily (@lansinohfamily)
4 All figures unless stated otherwise are according to research on a nationally representative sample of 1000 UK adults carried out by ID Insight Consulting on behalf of Lansinoh, 2017.