Awards scheme boosts breastfeeding spaces for mothers

Businesses and community venues across North Yorkshire are being encouraged to provide welcoming environments for breastfeeding mothers.  

Our libraries, leisure centres and children and family hubs are among 76 businesses and venues to have pledged to support parents to breastfeed in their facilities.

They have all achieved the Breastfeeding Friendly Venues Award (BFV), which we have developed to identify public places that offer a good level of facilities and welcome breastfeeding mothers.

An online directory has been established to help parents find venues near them that have the award.

Evidence shows that breastfeeding helps to give babies the best possible start in life. In North Yorkshire, 51 per cent of babies were partially or totally breastfed at six to eight weeks after birth. This is above the England average of 49 per cent.

However, mothers often worry about breastfeeding in public spaces as they are unsure about where they will be welcome, or if they may be asked to leave or experience other negative behaviour.

Mothers have the legal right to breastfeed anywhere, but many do not feel confident in doing so. The Breastfeeding Friendly Venues award aims to make it easier for breastfeeding mums to recognise where they will be welcomed in North Yorkshire.

Becoming a breastfeeding friendly award venue is easy. The minimum requirement is that staff actively welcome mothers and babies and that breastfeeding is allowed in all customer areas of the venue. Additional support that mothers appreciate includes:

  • Easy access for, and a safe place to park a buggy.
  • Easy access to a clean place to change their baby’s nappy.
  • A comfortable chair with a back for support.

Lucy Stockdale, who uses the facilities at Selby Library with her daughter, Molly, said: “We’ve been breastfeeding for about four months. We had quite a difficult start and it was quite awkward breastfeeding in public, because I had to make sure we were both comfortable and that can leave you feeling quite exposed.   

“It’s really nice that there are venues like this where you can have a little bit of privacy rather than having to feed on a park bench in public, especially when it is cold outside or in warm weather where you can’t necessarily cover up because she would get too hot. It’s nice to have somewhere to go where you feel safe.”

Once approved, venues are provided with promotional resources, including window stickers and posters.

Two ladies with a breastfeeding friendly venue award

Gareth and Sarah Sewell own and run Crazy Kingdom indoor play in Northallerton. They say any nursing mother is welcome to feed her baby at their establishment.

Sarah said: “I know how difficult it is for mums to find anywhere indoors to feed their baby. My staff and I are not only friendly, but very welcoming towards nursing mums. My staff will always offer a glass of water to a mum breastfeeding her child. Plus, meeting other parents who may have similar experiences with feeding can offer invaluable social support and help parents to feel connected and less isolated.

“It was really easy for us to sign up to the council’s Breastfeeding Friendly Venues scheme as we already had the changing facilities in place. I would definitely encourage more North Yorkshire businesses to sign up to the initiative so more mums and families feel comfortable and confident when breastfeeding while out and about.”

Find more details about joining the scheme or the venues that have the Breastfeeding Friendly Venues award.