Askamum story: Leeds to become England’s first breastfeeding friendly city

With over half of mums feeling embarrassed to breastfeed in public, Leeds’ council and health services are calling on all businesses and residents to make breastfeeding mums feel welcomed and comfortable.

Three mums with their babies on their laps chatting

By Soraya Auer

Leeds is hoping to become the first breastfeeding friendly city in England with the Local NHS organisations and the support of Leeds City Council.

The Leeds Breastfeeding Friendly campaign aims to promote breastfeeding by making it more acceptable in public, so that mums are comfortable to breastfeed their children when they need to.

Maggie Boyle, of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTHNT), said: “LTHNT helps deliver over 9,000 babies every year and we always advise mums that breastfeeding is the healthiest option for them and their babies.”

A recent UK-wide survey found that many mums are put off breastfeeding in public despite recognising its benefits. More than half of mums were too embarrassed to breastfeed in front of people, a third said they hid in public toilets to breastfeed and more than two thirds said they were ‘blatantly stared at’ when breastfeeding in public.

NHS Leeds has been working with local mums to find out what barriers they face when looking to breastfeed their babies. Leeds officials are calling on all businesses and residents to create an environment in which breastfeeding mums are welcomed, supported and made comfortable.

Leeds also wants to inform and motivate local mums to breastfeed as the number of those who choose to do it is relatively low. Health professionals will be measuring the success of the campaign by seeing if there is an increase in breastfeeding mums.

The campaign hopes an increase in breastfeeding in the most disadvantaged areas will make a significant different to the health and wellbeing within the most disadvantaged communities in Leeds.

“It is really important that mums are given all the support they need when feeding their children,” said John Lawlow, Chief Executive for NHS Leeds. “Now we need the support of local businesses and community organisations. All they need to do is sign up to the scheme and receive a free resource pack including display materials.”

To help local mums find out where Breastfeeding Friendly venues are in Leeds a dedicated website has been set up.

Local businesses and community organisations looking to get involved in the campaign can receive a free resource pack by emailing Sarah Erskine at NHS Leeds.

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