Libraries join Breastfeeding Welcome Here

Thursday, 3 May 2018 – Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement
Libraries join Breastfeeding Welcome Here

All of Northern Ireland’s 96 public libraries are joining the Public Health Agency’s (PHA) Breastfeeding Welcome Here scheme.

The new members will take the number of businesses, council facilities and popular tourist attractions signed up to the scheme to over 600.

Breastfeeding Welcome Here was established to enable businesses to play an active role supporting breastfeeding mums by pledging to make them welcome on their premises and displaying a pink sticker and certificate to show they are members of the scheme. Staff at the organisations are also made aware of the need to be supportive of mothers.

Helen Osborn, Director of Library Services, Libraries NI, said: “I am delighted that Libraries NI has joined the Breastfeeding Welcome Here scheme and our network of libraries will provide welcoming, safe facilities for many mothers and babies in their own communities. The work of libraries in areas such as Rhythm and Rhyme is vital for children and families in providing them with the best possible start in life and this is a natural progression of our work.”

A list of members of Breastfeeding Welcome Here can be found on www.NotSorryMums.info where there is also an interactive map so that mums can find their nearest Breastfeeding Welcome Here venue and local Breastfeeding Support Groups.

Valerie Watts, Interim Chief Executive of the PHA, said: “Libraries form the cornerstone of many communities, and are places that have welcomed generations of families. Today’s move by all 96 libraries to join the PHA’s Breastfeeding Welcome Here scheme reinforces the point that, just like introducing children to libraries to nurture their learning and development, breastfeeding is a key step we can take in a child’s early years to enhance their immediate and long-term wellbeing.

“While mums can of course breastfeed anywhere they wish to, the scheme aims to provide welcoming environments and show public support for breastfeeding mums.

“Breastfeeding should be seen as part of everyday life and the more it happens the more normalised it becomes. Breastfeeding helps give babies the best start in life and so showing increased support for breastfeeding mums is really important, as Northern Ireland has the lowest breastfeeding rates in the UK and one of the lowest rates in Europe

“We know that for many mums getting started isn’t easy. Information and support is essential, both before baby is born and especially in the early days after birth, so that mums can build their confidence and stay with their decision to breastfeed.

“We are delighted that libraries here are playing their part in creating supportive environments for breastfeeding as helping mums feel more comfortable about feeding in public is something that we can all play an active part in.”  

L-R: Valerie Watts, Interim Chief Executive of the PHA; Steven and Lyndsay Spence with baby Eliza; and Jim O'Hagan, Chief Executive Libraries NI

Notes to editors

  • The Department of Health strategy Breastfeeding – A Great Start. A Strategy for Northern Ireland 2013–2023 includes key strategic outcomes which state that: “Supportive environments for breastfeeding exist throughout Northern Ireland” and “Government Departments and statutory bodies recognise the value of breastfeeding”.
  • Approximately 64% of mothers here start breastfeeding, compared with 83% in England, 74% in Scotland and 71% in Wales. That figure falls to 33% breastfeeding at six weeks and 16% at six months.