Motherwell FC and Motherwell Community Trust have become the latest Lanarkshire organisations to join the new Breastfeeding Friendly Scotland (BFS) scheme.
With the support of NHS Lanarkshire, they will help to promote, support and protect the rights of mothers who want to breastfeed in public places.
The BFS scheme is being rolled out nationally by the Scottish Government. It will replace, and build on the success of, NHS Lanarkshire’s former breastfeeding welcome initiative.
Lanarkshire currently reports some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in Scotland. Around half (50.3%) of mothers breastfeed at birth, dropping to less than one in three (30.4%) after 6-8 weeks.
A contributing factor can be that women feel inhibited to breastfeed outside the home, especially new mothers whose babies were born during lockdown, who might not be confident feeding while out and about.
In Scotland, babies are protected by law to be fed anywhere, and it is an offence to prevent a baby being fed in a public place.
Wherever families see the Breastfeeding Friendly Scotland logo and signage, they know that staff are aware of their obligation under the law, and they can be assured of an extra warm welcome. Membership of the scheme demonstrates a business understands and accommodates the needs of breastfeeding families.
AnneMarie Bruce, Infant Feeding Development Midwife at NHS Lanarkshire, said: “The NHS encourages responsive parenting and feeding, so our primary focus is to ensure that mothers and babies have the support they need, regardless of how they feed.
“UNICEF Babyfriendly found that 80% of women stopped breastfeeding before they wanted to. In Lanarkshire, our breastfeeding rates are currently below the national average and we want to normalise breastfeeding and create a supportive culture. We hope that by promoting safe environments for breastfeeding outside the home through the BFS Scheme, more women will feel comfortable and will continue to breastfeed for as long as they want.”
Dawn Middleton, general manager of the Motherwell FC Community Trust, added: “The Breastfeeding Friendly Scotland Scheme is an important initiative and we hope that more organisations sign up to support women in feeling comfortable when breastfeeding in the community.
“As a club with a largely male audience, we hope that our involvement in this initiative will encourage men to be supportive of their breastfeeding partners, family members, and friends, and to help foster a supportive environment in general when in public spaces.”
Businesses interested in joining the BFS Scheme can receive more information by contacting BreastfeedingFriendlyScotlandLanarkshire@lanarkshire.scot.nhs.uk.