I’m all for anything or anyone that promotes Breasts..
Feeding that is.
Breast Is Best
Doctors in Wales are calling on the National Assembly to promote discreet breastfeeding of babies in public places where children are allowed.
In England and Wales 29 per cent of mothers do not breastfeed. Yet health professionals know that breast is best for the health of both mother and baby. The National Assembly could make a difference.
Throughout Wales there continue to be unfortunate situations in which nursing mothers are told they cannot breastfeed in public. Often breastfeeding mothers are wrongly asked to retreat to a more private place rather than being accepted for feeding their babies in a normal way.
BMA Cymru Wales would like to promote the rights of a mother to breastfeed her child where children are allowed e.g. restaurants, cafes and shops and that the people who manage or own these places could not prevent them from doing so and are calling on the National Assembly for Wales to act.
Welsh Secretary of the BMA, Dr Richard Lewis said: “The Assembly is looking for new legislation which it could support when it receives new powers in 2007. Legislation on breastfeeding would help to effect a change in public attitudes, as it would send out a strong message that it is acceptable for women to breastfeed and that it should be positively encouraged. Supporting and encouraging breastfeeding is an important public health activity. Breastfeeding in infancy has a protective effect against many childhood illnesses including gastro-intestinal infections, respiratory infections, urinary tract infection, ear infections, eczema, asthma and wheezing and insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Women who have breast fed have lower risks of pre-menopausal breast cancer, epithelial ovarian cancer and hip fracture in later life.”
Despite the numerous recognised advantages of breastfeeding, rates remain low and are only slowly improving in Europe. A national target, established in 1994, states that by the year 2005 more than 50 per cent of women should still be breastfeeding their babies at six weeks.
BMA Cymru Wales believes that more needs to be done to address the reasons for high drop off rates and to encourage women to continue breastfeeding for longer. Legislation should be only one part of an overall strategy; support and educational advice should also be widely available for parents.
Legislation would provide clear guidelines for proprietors to deal with a complaint relating to a breastfeeding mother and it also sends a clear message that the National Assembly for Wales actively supports and promotes breastfeeding.
Dr Lewis added: “While we are keen to encourage mothers to breastfeed, it is important that there remains a sense of balance. It is vital that those mothers who choose not to breastfeed are supported in their choice. The BMA recognises that there are circumstances where it is not possible for a mother to continue to breastfeed her baby. However, we believe that a Welsh bill would encourage those who can, to continue.”
Chairman of the BMA’s Welsh Council, Dr Tony Calland said: “The health benefits of breastfeeding for both mothers and babies are increasingly recognised, both worldwide and in the UK. By recognising and protecting a child’s right to be breastfed, a Welsh bill would support the take up and duration rates of breastfeeding. We are calling for the Assembly to create an environment where women of all ethnic, social and cultural backgrounds are comfortable with discreetly feeding their babies anywhere and at any time. We need to create an atmosphere of support from friends, family, partners and health professionals.”
Scotland has already made it an offence “to prevent or stop a person in charge of a child who is otherwise permitted to be in a public place or licensed premises from feeding milk to that child in that place or on those premises; to make provision in relation to the promotion of breastfeeding; and for connected purposes.”
“Although the Scots have already stolen a march on us, Wales could still show England the way on this important public health issue - creating a new generation of healthier babies,” added Dr Calland.
The initiative is supported by the Royal College of Nursing in Wales.
Director Tina Donnelly supports the promotion and protection of breastfeeding and sees it as an important public health issue. “Breastfeeding provides considerable health benefits for mothers and babies. There are significant health benefits to nursing mothers, including reducing the risks of breast and other types of cancers, as well as osteoporosis. The fear of being offensive or embarrassed has caused mothers to either never begin breastfeeding or to prematurely wean their infants.”
Rosie Dodds, policy researcher at the National Childbirth Trust said: “The NCT believes we need a law to protect women’s right to feed their baby in public places so that they can feel confident and comfortable feeding when out and about. A recent NCT survey found that 79% of mothers would like a law to protect their right to breastfeed. The NCT believes all women should be able to feed their baby in the way they want, without feeling uncomfortable or unwelcome. We know that by far the majority of adults don’t have a problem with women breastfeeding their babies while they are out. Most breastfeeding is so discreet, no one notices. Yet in this culture, some mothers are deterred from breastfeeding because they worry about possible negative attitudes and disapproval of breastfeeding in public places.”
Royal College of Midwives Director for Wales, Helen Rogers, said: “Studies have shown that breastfeeding can have long - and short-term benefits for both mother and baby. Breastfeeding has been shown to protect infants from infections of the respiratory, digestive and urinary tracts and it is a tragedy that breastfeeding mothers continue to be treated in a negative manner, by being asked to leave premises or made to feel uncomfortable in carrying out what is, in fact, an entirely natural practice. As a staunch advocate of normal birth practices, the RCM believes that passing the law will not only benefit mother and baby, but will contribute to an increased acceptance of breastfeeding in public places and therefore, increase breastfeeding rates and we are supportive of the BMA’s stance.”
Alison Battista, Chair, La Leche League GB said: “La Leche League Great Britain is delighted that Wales has the opportunity to support breastfeeding mothers by forbidding discrimination against mothers breastfeeding in public. We are very pleased to lend support to this very important work.”