Breastfeeding to be encouraged across North Devon to address stigma

Baby and mother with milk

Baby and mother with milk - Credit: Sander van der Wel

Breastfeeding is to be promoted within all of North Devon Council’s public buildings and parks.

The move follows a motion from councillor Mel Lovering (Lib Dem, Barnstaple with Pilton Ward) being passed by North Devon Council.

Signage will be put up in all its public buildings and parks, saying that breastfeeding is allowed.

The council will also promote breastfeeding and help commercial premises like cafes to be breastfeeding-friendly by supplying a downloadable poster.

Councillor Netti Pearson (Green Party, Ilfracombe West Ward) discussed the stigma that still exists: “I’m shocked really and surprised that this is still an issue. I’d thought we’d got beyond that. It’s been an issue when my son was young and still is and I find that really sad”.

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Cllr Lovering’s motion argued in favour of the health and environmental benefits of breastfeeding, adding: “While recognising that not all mums can breastfeed, breastfeeding is the most natural way of understanding and satisfying a baby’s needs.

“Our towns can often seem like uncomfortable and uninviting places to breastfeed.

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“Breastfeeding women are still facing an everyday battle because others around them feel uncomfortable.

“If a woman feels unsafe or fears disapproval when breastfeeding she is likely to stop breastfeeding, resort to formula feeds or find a safe place.

“Women have resorted for many years to breastfeeding in public toilets which is uncomfortable and unhygienic for mother and baby.

“We need to learn how to react and respect this very natural process and lead the way to welcoming breastfeeding into society.

“If the district council promotes breastfeeding as welcome within the towns and villages it will promote women to feel safe.  

“By promoting breastfeeding it will help others to realise that breastfeeding is a normal everyday activity mums need to do.”

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