Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Sheffield 'needs more breastfeeding-friendly venues' report says

Breastfeeding - stock image Image copyright Geety/hedgehog94
Image caption Currently the city has 260 breastfeeding-friendly venues including Sheffield Hallam University and Sheffield Children's Hospital, said the report

A city council wants all its public buildings to become breastfeeding-friendly with designated rooms for mothers and babies.

There are already 260 such venues in Sheffield but the council wants more organisations to provide facilities.

It criticised Meadowhall shopping centre and the city's public transport for its poor breastfeeding provision.

Most mothers prefer public seating in a venue but rooms should be available for privacy, the council said.

Debbie Hanson, from the council, said in a report: "Where a designated breastfeeding room is possible, it should have a comfortable chair, baby changing facilities, including nappy disposal, and big enough to accommodate a pram/other child.

"Signage for the room must show that it is for breastfeeding - no images of bottles should be used."

Image copyright Neil Theasby/Geograph
Image caption The government recommends exclusive breastfeeding until baby is six months old, said Sheffield City Council

The council wants bus-operator Stagecoach, sports centres, South Yorkshire Police, schools and libraries, to become breastfeeding-friendly, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

The report criticises some city centre department stores for unsatisfactory facilities for breastfeeding and said there was "a long-standing issue with breastfeeding support" in Meadowhall and on public transport.

A Meadowhall spokesperson said it was proud to offer facilities for the needs of customers, including a nursing room and recently-refurbished baby changing facilities.

"We would like to remind all nursing mothers that these private areas are available should they wish to use them," it said.

The shopping centre was reviewing its amenities and striving to improve facilities, the spokesperson added.

Stagecoach said it supported the council's stance over breastfeeding in the city adding: "We already encourage breastfeeding mothers on our bus and tram services."

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The government recommends exclusive breastfeeding until a baby is six months old but Sheffield's rate drops from about 80% at delivery, to 50% in the first few weeks after birth.

Breastfed children are less likely to be absent from school due to infectious diseases, asthma and other allergies and have better school attainment, the report said.

"To treat a woman less favourably because she is breastfeeding is sex discrimination," it added.

The report to the council's cabinet is to be discussed on 15 January.

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