Cornerstone House Centre has underlined its commitment to supporting breastfeeding by signing up to the Breastfeeding Friendly Scotland (BFS) Scheme being rolled out by Scottish Government and NHS Scotland.
With the support of NHS Lanarkshire, the organisation will help to promote, support and protect the rights of mothers who want to breastfeed in public places.
Breastfeeding Friendly Scotland was launched in 2020 with a view to ensuring breastfeeding mums know that if they see the BFS logo that the establishment will make them feel welcome and be supportive of her feeding choice. Locally, it replaces NHS Lanarkshire’s former Breastfeeding Welcome initiative.
Lanarkshire currently reports some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in Scotland. Around half (50.3%) of mothers choose to breastfeed, dropping to less than one in three (28.6%) after six to eight weeks. A contributing factor can be that women feel inhibited to breastfeed outside of the home.
In Scotland, all babies are protected by law and it is an offence to prevent a baby from being fed milk in a public place. The Breastfeeding etc. (Scotland) Act 2005 defines that mothers can breastfeed an infant up to the age of two in public places, whilst The Equality Act 2010 affirms that it is discrimination to treat a woman unfavourably because she is breastfeeding.
The Scottish Infant Feeding Survey 2017 identified that mums understood they could breastfeed in public areas, however almost half lacked confidence in doing so. In this respect, membership of the Breastfeeding Friendly Scotland Scheme highlights that a business or organisation understands and accommodates the needs of breastfeeding families. Mary McNeil, Development Manager at Cornerstone House Centre, said:
“Both Cornerstone House (the organisation’s community-owned premises at 1 Esk Walk) and The Community Space (a free facility for local citizens within Antonine Shopping Centre) are popular places for families living in Cumbernauld to visit on a regular basis.
“Cornerstone House Centre is eager to do as much as it can to ensure that its premises are fully inclusive to mothers, children and indeed all people. As such, we are delighted to announce that the organisation has joined the Breastfeeding Friendly Scotland Scheme.
“We hope that this will reassure families that they can feel confident and supported in breastfeeding when attending our facilities at any time. This includes visitors to Cornerstone Cafe and all other organisations which hire space within Cornerstone House.
“Furthermore, in its role as a Community Anchor Organisation, Cornerstone House Centre intends to work closely with NHS Lanarkshire and other key partners over the coming months to ensure a strong implementation of Breastfeeding Friendly Scotland across the Cumbernauld locality area.” Dr Elizabeth Smith, Scottish Government’s Breastfeeding Advocacy Lead for Scotland, added:
“We want to build a society where breastfeeding mothers can feel confident to breastfeed when they are out and about.
“Premises that have joined the Breastfeeding Friendly Scotland Scheme are making it clear to breastfeeding families and the general public that they are showing their support for breastfeeding in a very visible way. Together we can build a Breastfeeding Friendly Scotland.”
Breastfeeding can be a highly emotive subject in this country because so many families have not breastfed, with others having experienced the trauma of trying hard to breastfeed and not succeeding.
But when undertaken effectively, breastfeeding undoubtedly yields many health benefits to babies, providing critical nutrients, protection from certain diseases and fostering growth and development.
AN INTRODUCTION TO BREASTFEEDING: INFORMATION FOR LOCAL FAMILIES
What is Breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding, sometimes known as nursing, is the feeding of babies and young children with milk from a woman’s breast. Changes to the mother’s body in early pregnancy prepare her breasts for lactation, the process where milk is produced and secreted through the nipples.
Women have breastfed their children for thousands of years, but it’s only in modern times that the full health benefits of breastfeeding for both children and mothers have become better understood.
Who Can Breastfeed?
Most mothers should be able to breastfeed their own children safely and with no risk whatsoever. It may be advisable for some mothers not to breastfeed if they have particular health conditions or accentuating circumstances. If parents have any doubts or concerns, it’s wise to speak to a GP or assigned healthcare practitioner for advice before the baby is born.
Equally so, any family considering breastfeeding a child that is not biologically their own should seek relevant medical advice before proceeding, as this can be risky in some instances.
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Breastfeeding?
There are multiple advantages of breastfeeding, notably that a mother’s breast milk is perfectly designed for her baby. Crucially, a mother’s breast milk protects her baby from many infections and diseases, whilst formulated milk does not do this as effectively.
Interestingly, the benefits of breastfeeding are not only for the child. For the mother, breastfeeding burns calories and can help with weight loss after pregnancy. Breastfeeding also releases the hormone oxytocin, which helps the mother’s uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and reduces post-pregnancy bleeding. Furthermore, breastfeeding reduces the mother’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
With breastfeeding, breast milk is available for the baby whenever they need it. This is highly beneficial as newborn babies feed frequently. The process of breastfeeding can also help build a strong emotional bond between mother and baby.
In most instances, the health advantages of breastfeeding far outweigh any potential disadvantages. It is possible that the mother may feel some discomfort whilst breastfeeding, particularly during the first few feedings.
It can also be common for mothers to feel concerned, anxious or embarrassed about breastfeeding. For most mothers, this can be overcome by receiving the proper advice and support, and through practice.
Breastfeeding is a skill that takes time to get the hang of. Lots of mothers wonder if their baby is feeding well and getting enough milk, especially in the first few days. But once mastered, mothers often find it is the easiest and most satisfying way to feed their baby.
How Long Should a Mother Breastfeed For?
Current guidance recommends that babies should receive breast milk for the first six months of life then, after introduction of solid foods, should continue to breastfeed up to their second birthday or for as long as the mother and baby wish. The decision about how long to breastfeed for is very personal and can depend on a number of factors.
To ensure healthy milk production, it’s important that the mother only gives their baby breast milk in the early days. In the first 24 hours after the birth, babies usually wake and feed often. This can feel like a lot of feeding, but it’s normal and usually settles quickly.
How Should a Mother Breastfeed?
It’s sensible for any mother to research and seek advice about the process and cycle of breastfeeding before their baby is born.
National charity The Breastfeeding Network provides a comprehensive online portal in relation to this, which includes sections on getting started, if breastfeeding hurts, finding support, breastfeeding in public, expressing and storing, milk banking and introducing a bottle. The website also provides useful video links for women thinking about breastfeeding.
Can Coronavirus be Transmitted Through Breastfeeding?
Mothers might feel worried about how coronavirus (COVID-19) could affect their baby if they are breastfeeding or planning on breastfeeding. While an infected mother could pass COVID-19 to her baby in the same way as any infected person could transmit the virus to another individual, there is currently no evidence to suggest that the virus can be transmitted through breast milk or breastfeeding.
Any company or venue in Scotland open to the general public that allows children is eligible to join the Breastfeeding Friendly Scotland Scheme free of charge, with Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub and Cumbernauld Family Hub encouraging other voluntary, public and private sector groups in Greater Cumbernauld to sign up.
Organisations who become Breastfeeding Friendly Scotland employers must commit to training staff about the law on breastfeeding and what it means for them. They should also display their Breastfeeding Friendly Scotland award in a noticeable place for all visitors to see.
As part of the Scheme, groups should support mothers to feel more comfortable about breastfeeding their child publically, never asking them to stop breastfeeding, cover up or move their seat. Breastfeeding Friendly Scotland members should deal with complaints about breastfeeding by explaining they are part of the initiative and what the law says.
If you are part of an organisation which would like to find out more about joining the Breastfeeding Friendly Scotland Scheme, please email NHS Lanarkshire at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.