The Isle of Wight Council is working in partnership with local businesswoman Olivia Tyler, to introduce the initiative which aims to improve mothers’ breast feeding experiences in shops, businesses and public buildings.
Although it has long welcomed breastfeeding mums in its buildings, County Hall and all council buildings with public access have now become Breastfeeding Friendly Isle of Wight venues. Staff are currently being trained in line with the initiative’s pledges. It is hoped other Island businesses will follow suit, by signing up to the initiative which includes displaying a sticker to show members of the public that the venue is a comfortable place to breastfeed.
Polls reveal that seeing a woman breastfeeding does not bother 85% of adults. However, despite this, 63% of breastfeeding women report that they have been on the receiving end of unsupportive comments or behaviour while breastfeeding in a public place. The Breastfeeding Friendly Isle of Wight initiative seeks to make breastfeeding mums and their babies feel comfortable when and where they choose to feed – in a positive, supportive, public environment.
“As a breastfeeding mother and a publican I am very aware of both the benefits to mother and baby and the benefits to a business of being openly breastfeeding friendly.
“Breastfeeding Friendly Isle of Wight has been set up to help businesses understand the importance of going that extra mile for feeding mothers, ensuring they feel confident and supported in their choice whilst out in public. “It is already illegal to discriminate against a breastfeeding mother by asking her to move, leave, or cover up etc. but this is about so much more than adhering to the law.
“The Isle of Wight is already an incredibly inclusive community but still new mothers feel self-conscious when feeding their babies in public places. This scheme will give them the confidence to go to any place listed and know they will be fully supported in their choice. We are currently approaching businesses to sign up, but this is a timely exercise. Any business wishing to take part should contact us at [email protected].”
Carol Foley, acting public health principal at the Isle of Wight Council, said:
“We are proud to support this initiative as it is incredibly important that mothers feel comfortable while feeding their babies and that it should be a positive experience. Many venues across the Isle of Wight are already extremely welcoming to breastfeeding mums, and it is hoped that through this initiative more businesses will pledge their support and make their venues breastfeeding friendly.”
Breastfeeding Friendly venues will display stickers on their doors and materials inside to demonstrate their commitment to the scheme. This will help mothers to identify locations where they will be supported, and also offer other patrons information that the venue supports breastfeeding.
By signing up to the pledge, businesses will pledge to:
• hold a staff awareness session and ensure all staff members understand and support the Breastfeeding Friendly Scheme. When you have new staff join we ask that they are given an overview of the scheme if an additional awareness course isn’t available at that time. We can provide the training information as a booklet for future use
• respond sensitively if inappropriate comments are made about breastfeeding in their venue
• provide a clean and comfortable environment to breastfeed in and if possible provide a more private area to breastfeed in – this will not be the toilets
• offer breastfeeding mums a glass of water without charge
• where possible, staff members will offer to take food and drink orders over to breastfeeding mums so they don’t have to interrupt their baby’s feed
• display the breastfeeding friendly window sticker so families can recognise their venue as being part of the scheme
It costs nothing for a business to sign up to Breastfeeding Friendly Isle of Wight. Any business wishing to take part should email [email protected].
More information and venues registered with the scheme can be found on the Breastfeeding Friendly Isle of Wight Facebook page and website www.facebook.com/bffriendlyiow and www.breastfeedingiow.co.uk.