‘It is the most natural thing in the world’ - Suffolk celebrates Breast Feeding Week
Women should feel free to breast feed their baby in public without fear - that is the message being pushed by parents and professionals in Suffolk this week.
Supporters gathered at Ipswich Library today to mark a national campaign which aims to raise awareness of the benefits of breast feeding and to break down any barriers which may stop women from doing so.
One of those backing Breast Feeding Celebration Week is 28-year-old Laura Maguire, who said she had been asked to cover up and even leave some premises when breast feeding in the past.
“It makes me feel really small,” said Miss Maguire, who is mother to four-month-old Ofelia, Logan, three, and India, six. “You wouldn’t ask someone who bottle feeds to cover the baby up and leave.”
Abbie Curtis, 24 and whose daughter Evelyn turns one next week, said she was “all for normalising breast feeding”.
She added: “There is such a stigma about it still and there shouldn’t be because it is the most natural thing in the world and it is no different from using a bottle.
“I have had a few people stare but I think that’s because it’s not seen very often. Before I had my daughter I hadn’t seen a woman breast feed.”
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Katie Lushington, 28, said she wanted the public to know that it is possible to breast feed twins, like she has done with her nine-month-old daughters Scarlett and Jessica, as people had questioned her about whether she would have enough milk for both of them.
Mrs Lushington also breast fed her three-year-old, Evie.
Linda Page, Ipswich Hospital’s breast feeding coordinator, said breast milk protected babies from infection and it defended mothers from breast and ovarian cancer.
Ipswich mayor Sarah Barber, who is also a children’s nurse, has supported the initiative.
She said: “It can be a wonderful bonding experience and it’s a lot easier and healthier for babies than bottles.”
All libraries in Suffolk have signs up to show they are ‘breast feeding friendly’.
Alison Wheeler, chief executive of Suffolk Libraries, said: “Libraries are very supportive, welcoming and empathetic community spaces and we encourage breast feeding. Most libraries have a nice quiet corner or more open spaces - wherever the mothers feel more comfortable.”
Suffolk County Council (SCC) is also backing National Breast Feeding Celebration Week.
Abdul Razaq, the authority’s director of public health, said it was important for mothers to have a safe environment to breast feed in public.
While Nicki Cooper, senior health improvement commissioner for children and young people at SCC, added: “We want to support breast feeding for women in our communities and we believe it’s the right thing to do so babies have a healthy start.”