News and Developments

Breastfeeding Welcome Scheme launched

An ambitious new Breastfeeding Welcome Scheme (BFWS) has been launched in Aberdeen to make sure nursing mums can feed their infants in with confidence in city shops and cafes. 

More than 60 city centre businesses have so far signed up for the scheme, which aims to give mums a choice of safe, secure and supportive places where they can breastfeed if they want. 

Businesses range from shops, restaurants and cinemas to cafes and organisations, with the newest recruits around the beach area, Union Street and Belmont Street – and more are being encouraged to join. 

Aberdeen breastfeeding rates are better than some parts of Scotland – but figures show that after the first few weeks the rate quickly declines. Some 45% of mums breastfeed initially but the figure drops to just 36% by weeks six to eight. 

The NHS project, which is being led by the Aberdeen Public Health Team, supported by the Aberdeen City Health & Social Care Partnership, also aims to make mums aware of the support which is available to help them to breastfeed as long as they would like, if they so choose – including while they are out and about. 

Where a mother sees the ‘Breastfeeding Welcome’ logo they can be reassured that staff will be welcoming and supportive of their right to breastfeed on the premises. 

Public Health dietician Jenny Gordon, who has led the development of the scheme, said: “The scheme is a great way for businesses to support breastfeeding mothers on their premises. Being a member of the BFWS reinforces a business’s family-friendly image and helps educate the staff about the laws surrounding breastfeeding. 

“We regularly post details of members on the Breastfeed Grampian Facebook page and on our website. Our focus is still on Aberdeen City at the moment and we are continuing to expand, so we would welcome interest from any which wants to come on board.” 

Mum Jayne MacNab, who works with the local breastfeeding peer support group, said: “I am sure that nursing mothers across the North-east will warmly welcome the Aberdeen Breastfeeding Welcome scheme. We really need a choice of supportive places in which to breastfeed with confidence and this scheme has provided exactly that. 

“There should be no taboos about doing what comes absolutely naturally and the scheme has made sure that there are now scores of businesses in Aberdeen which are fully behind a mother’s right to feed her infant whenever the baby needs it. ‘Breastfeeding Welcome’ will help break down the artificial barriers which sometimes put mums off – and so well done to all the progressive businesses which have thrown their weight behind it.” 

Costa Coffee in Union Square already welcomes a nursing mothers’ peer support group to the premises every week, where mums and their babies get together for a coffee and a chat. 

Manager Sharon McHattie said: “Costa is very much a family-friendly destination where mums and babies are always welcome. We believe that mums should feel comfortable wherever they are breastfeeding so we fully support this scheme and are proud to have the ‘Breastfeeding Welcome’ logo displayed in our Union Square store.

“Many parents have been hugely positive about the scheme and we hope for more sign ups from businesses here in Aberdeen.” 

The scheme is also on the lookout for volunteers who want to support other breastfeeding mothers to feel confident in breastfeeding outside the home and have a few hours a month spare. 

Jenny said: “We are looking for volunteers from across Aberdeen to join our team to help recruit local businesses and other organisations to take part and help to raise the profile and value of breastfeeding. One of the next areas we want to target is Peterculter, along with building on existing work in the city centre.” 

Breastfeeding is the most natural and healthiest way to feed a baby, and is all they need for the first six months of life. 

Breastfed babies run a lesser risk of urinary, gastrointestinal, ear and respiratory infection, eczema and asthma; juvenile-onset diabetes and, in later life, obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. 

Breast milk adapts to a baby’s needs as they grow and develop, and boosts their immune system. Breastfed babies may also have better teeth formation and better neurological development. 

Women who breastfeed are at lower risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and hip fracture in later life. Breastfeeding uses up about 500 calories a day and can help with post-pregnancy weight loss. Breastfeeding is also convenient, free and environmentally friendly. 

The NHS’s Infant feeding Survey (2010) reported that in the UK 45% of mothers who breast fed reported they felt uncomfortable breastfeeding in front of others. Discomfort was the most acute in public places (43%) – and so the Grampian Breast Feeding Welcome Scheme was developed to help and support mums to breast feed outside of the home. 

Businesses and organisations which are part of the scheme will display a breastfeeding welcome scheme logo on a sticker or poster, and their details are added to the Breastfeed Grampian Face book page and website. The scheme helps mothers in three main ways:

  • When a mother sees the BFWS logo displayed, she can be sure the business will be supportive of her right to breastfeed on the premises and will not be asked to more or stop feeding her baby.
    • The scheme raises the profile of breastfeeding as a natural way to feed your baby and should encourage more mums to breastfeed if they wish to.
    • The scheme ensures that businesses and their staff are aware of the laws around breastfeeding. 

Businesses can get involved by following four simple steps:

  • Start-up packs can be ordered online via the BFWS webpage. Each pack contains a registration form, sticker, poster and a baby-friendly top tips leaflet.
  • Businesses can then discuss the scheme with staff.
  • Businesses can join by emailing the completed registration form to the scheme team, who can pay a visit to discuss the practicalities.
  • The business can then display a BFWS sticker and/or poster in a prominent position on the premises to show that it welcomes breastfeeding mums. 

For more information, businesses who want to be part of the scheme can contact Jenny Gordon at jenny.gordon1@nhs.net or Yvonne Robb at yvonnerobb@nhs.net. More information is also available on the Breastfeed Grampian Facebook page and the new BFWS web page at www.nhsgrampian.org/bfws. The web pages have information for the public and a page for businesses, as well as the new, simple-to-use BFWS members map. 

Local midwives and health visitors can offer breastfeeding advice and information on local support groups. The Parenthood Department at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital also offers support – open Mon-Fri, tel 01224 552615. The Breastfeeding Peer Support Project is a group of local volunteers offer support and information in group or 1-2-1 settings – tel 07780 793600.