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The Big Latch on held at Rochester Castle as Medway Council launches #BesideYou breastfeeding campaign

By Clare Freeman

A group of Medway mums fed their babies at the same time as part of a global event to encourage more women to breastfeed.

The Big Latch On was held in Rochester Castle Gardens on Saturday and coincided with the release of a video campaign to support mums who are unsure about breastfeeding in public.

Filmed in Costa in Gillingham High Street, the video shows a young woman breastfeeding while wondering what others are thinking.

Scroll down to watch the video

Stacey Herbert and Caleb with Sarah Stevens and Duke
Stacey Herbert and Caleb with Sarah Stevens and Duke

She is then approached by a member of staff and other customers who offer encouraging words, such as an older lady who says: “It’s nice to see young mums breastfeeding. Well done.”

The campaign, called Beside You, is led by Medway Council in partnership with the charity Best Beginnings which aims to end child health inequalities.

Cllr David Brake, Medway Council lead on public health, said: “We want to highlight that Medway is a place where mums can feel comfortable and confident about feeding their babies, whether it be in a cafe, library or any public place.

Watch: Medway Council's breastfeeding campaign

“We’d like mums to feel secure and confident to feed their babies as and when they need to, wherever they are. We’re reminding people that breastfeeding in public is a completely normal and healthy, and it’s entirely appropriate for people to show their support for the mothers who choose to do so.”

Breastfeeding rates in Medway are below the national average and more than two-thirds of women give up breastfeeding in the first few weeks after their baby is born.

Wendy Brownrigg, a nurse, lactation consultant and health visitor in Medway, said: “A mother-to-be’s ability to breastfeed will depend on the support she is offered, not just from health professionals but from family and the wider community.

“This requires supportive national and local policies, skilled health professionals, changes in public attitudes towards women breastfeeding in public and employment protection when returning to work while still breast-feeding.”

Over the next six months there will be a wide range of activities aimed at encouraging more women to feel comfortable breastfeeding in public as well as increasing awareness of the services and advice that exists in the area to support mothers who wish to breastfeed anywhere.

Beside You will officially launch on September 8. See besideyou.abettermedway.co.uk

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