The Isle of Wight Council say they support that women who choose to breastfeed their babies should be made to feel comfortable to do so wherever they choose, as the much talked about subject is thrust into the spotlight once again, but this time on a local level.
The Isle of Wight Council have today (Friday) said that breastfeeding mothers have the right to breastfeed anywhere and that part of the Council’s work is to break down any perceived stigma that surrounds breastfeeding and encourage mothers to make this choice, if it is right for them and their baby.
The clear support for breastfeeding comes after comments by Ryde resident and BBC Radio Solent DJ Alex Dyke have caused a stir online and in the national newspapers.
Over 10,000 people have signed a petition appealing for the BBC to remove Dyke from the airwaves following his ill educated comments about breastfeeding on Wednesday. Dyke, who moved to BBC Radio Solent after leaving Isle of Wight Radio, said live on air:
“I blame the Earth mothers, you know the ones I mean, the ones with the moustaches, the ones who work in libraries, the ones who wear hessian, the ones they’re always on Radio 4 on Women’s Hour, they are always pushing the boundaries and making us feel uncomfortable.
“Breastfeeding is unnatural. It’s the kind of thing that should be done in a quiet, private nursery”.
The BBC have now suspended the DJ for his ‘unacceptable’ comments. Dyke’s family are now fearing for their safety and have even requested that Police guard their home.
The show has been removed from iPlayer by the broadcaster.
Cllr Hillard, said:
“I believe that I am the first Isle of Wight Councillor to have a baby whilst in office and chose to return to work when my baby was just eleven days old. Despite Teddy being my third baby breastfeeding has not been as easy as I expected and so I appreciate the support of my colleagues to be able to continue my councillor duties alongside my role as mum to a new baby.”
Councillor Phil Jordan, Executive Member for Public Health, said:
“I’d firstly like to congratulate Councillor Hillard and her family on the birth of their new son, and would like to thank her for her dedication to her role and continuing to attend meetings so soon after the birth of her baby.”
The council supports a mother’s right to choose to breastfeed anywhere within council premises; wherever she feels comfortable to do so. Private rooms are offered to mother’s upon their request if they prefer to feed their babies in a quieter and more comfortable location. Provision is also made in council policy to support mothers, when returning to work, to be offered facilities to either breastfeed or express milk.
In 2014/15, 71% of Island women initiated breastfeeding and 45%t were still breastfeeding at 6/8 weeks. We also know that most women who stop feeding in the first few weeks would have liked to have kept going and wanted more support to do so, and so that is what services are focusing on doing.
In recent months breastfeeding groups have been established across the Island every weekday, via Children’s Centres, so that there is always support and guidance available for mothers who require additional help to breastfeed, or who want to meet with other likeminded mums locally.
The council has also trained a team of peer supporters (usually other mums who have or do breastfeed) to work in children centres and also the hospital, to support new mums’ confidence and provide guidance as required.
Local Breastfeeding peer supporter, Emma Porter, 33, a mother of two breastfed boys, from Ryde, said:
“The Isle of Wight is lucky that throughout various different face-to-face and online groups there is empathy and support for breastfeeding mums facing challenges. I’ve noticed that recent improvements in changes to the delivery of breastfeeding services on the Island have led more mums to attend the groups on offer.
“I faced some tough breastfeeding challenges with my first baby and I received some excellent help from local groups and health professionals. I feel rewarded that I can help mums who want to breastfeed, to continue; becoming a peer supporter has also helped me on my breastfeeding journey with my second baby!”
The Island is seeing some very positive results and receiving a lot of positive feedback through local initiatives, as the council seeks to achieve the UNICEF Baby Friendly status as with our partner organisations; Barnardos and the NHS Trust.