DOZENS of mums gathered in Sheffield’s Winter Garden for a breastfeeding picnic aimed at making the practice more socially acceptable.
Medical experts claim that babies who are breastfed – even if only for the first few weeks of their lives – are often healthier.
And to mark Breastfeeding Awareness Week, doctors and councillors in Sheffield are trying to encourage mothers to breastfeed openly to help make it more socially acceptable.
Sheffield’s Director of Public Health Dr Jeremy Wight said: “Breastfeeding brings a lot of benefits to infants, including reduced risk of infant death, childhood obesity and immediate protection from infections and diseases. It also protects against certain cancers in both mother and child.
“Often women tell us they don’t leave the house because they don’t feel comfortable breastfeeding in public.
“Unfortunately this may shorten the length of time that women breastfeed.”
He added: “We want to change this by encouraging venues in Sheffield to be breastfeeding friendly.
“This would mean not only would they go out of their way to welcome new mothers, but also create a culture change where breastfeeding is seen as the normal way to feed a baby.”
Dr Wight said he was ‘very pleased’ that 300 venues have already signed up to be more encouraging to mothers wishing to breastfeed their children.
In the Winter Gardens there were display stands and information on breastfeeding, as well as craft activities for children and families. Music was even provided by a string quartet.
The picnic was attended by the council’s partner organisations such as NHS Sheffield, Action for Children and the Sheffield Wildlife Trust.
Coun Jackie Drayton, the council’s cabinet member for children, young people and families, said: “I breastfed all my children and I would encourage all women to do the same, if they can.
“It’s simple and easy, and not only is it good for the baby but it is also good for you.
“Even better, it helps you to lose weight.”