Are breastfeeding rooms a cover-up?

Breastfeeding is one of the most important part of a baby’s first six months. Breast milk contains antibodies that help babies fight off viruses and bacteria and lowers their risk of having asthma or allergies.

Every new mum is taught about breastfeeding outside the home when they leave hospital.

In fact, women have the legal right to breastfeed in public but having the legal right and the confidence to exercise that right can be daunting.

Some may be timid or scared, afraid of the stares they might attract or fearful that it might cause a scene and that they may be asked to leave the department store, cinema, restaurant or café.

But the good news is that Sheffield is a breastfeeding friendly city. Not just in name but in reality. The city has worked hard to normalise the image of a breastfeeding mother.

Sheffield Breastfeeding friendly logoTo this end, the Breastfeeding Friendly Award was developed to recognise venues that provide the facilities that make mums feel welcomed and supported.  These places allow mums to feed their babies in public or private.

There are almost 300 public venues across Sheffield from Penistone to Dronfield and Catcliffe to Dore which are easily recognised by their logo.

So why has Sheffield City Council opened breastfeeding rooms in all its buildings? Does this suggest that mums should be hiding away to breastfeed?

Absolutely not! It is to give mums a choice, to help them to breastfeed for as long as they choose to do so. We celebrate a mum’s decision to breastfeed, wherever they choose to do so.

We hope that all mums will gain the confidence to breastfeed anywhere, as is their legal right, and that the sight of a woman breastfeeding will become perfectly normal, particularly to the next generation.

So, for anyone just starting on their breastfeeding journey who needs to build their confidence when feeding outside of the home, for any mum with a fussy baby that gets easily distracted, for those who prefer to feed discreetly or experimenting with the right clothing or the right breastfeeding positions, for someone who’s returned to work and needs a private space to express milk, for a mum who is feeling low and wants a quiet, private space to enjoy feeding her baby, for everyone wanting a warm, dry, comfortable space that is free to use or for any other reason –  a room is available.

Support and information are available at Breastfeeding in Sheffield’s website and Facebook page.

Photo Courtesy of Emma at Hooha Photography

Clare Robinson
Clare Robinson
Clare Robison is the project manager with responsibility for the Breastfeeding Friendly Initiative. Her role is to support and engage organisations to achieve the Breastfeeding Friendly Award and to help Sheffield to become the first Breastfeeding Friendly Local Authority in the country.