Congratulations mums, you’ve done us proud!

A Sheffield breastfed baby

A Sheffield breastfed baby

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Families and healthcare workers across Sheffield should be pleased as punch at news that more mums breastfeed in the Steel City than anywhere else in the north.

More than half of our new mums breastfeed according to the latest figures from the Department of Health, which also reveal that Sheffield has the highest percentage of breastfeeding mothers outside of the South of England.

A Sheffield breastfed baby

A Sheffield breastfed baby

Figures show that more than 52 per cent of new mums breastfeed their baby when they are between six and eight weeks old – the highest in Yorkshire and The Humber.

There are many initiatives across South Yorkshire aimed at encouraging mums to turn their back on the bottle.

NHS Sheffield launched the Breastfeeding Friendly Awards for local mums to nominate their favourite venue where they have felt comfortable and relaxed when breastfeeding, as part of Sheffield Let’s Change4Life.

Three winners – John Lewis, Snap Deli of Ecclesall Road and the Rivelin Park Cafe – received their awards on Tuesday as part of Breastfeeding Awareness Week 2011.

More than 30 city venues and workplaces have Breastfeeding Friendly status including children’s centres, primary schools, leisure centres, shops and cafes.

Now the aim is to make Sheffield a breastfeeding friendly city by 2012.

Clare Robinson, the Sheffield Breastfeeding Friendly Award Co-ordinator, said: “We are supporting new mums to feel more confident to breastfeed their child in public.

“As a city we want to encourage environments where mums can breastfeed comfortably and with the full support of the staff, venue and people around.

“The Breastfeeding Friendly Awards gives people this reassurance. I am so proud that there were so many nominations for local venues where Sheffield mums felt welcomed and supported.

“As a mother who breastfed myself, I find it encouraging that so many people and venues are getting involved.”

Caroline Burrows, breastfeeding lead at NHS Sheffield, stressed breastfeeding gives babies all the nutrients they need for the first six months of life as well as protecting them from infection.

She said it also helps to reinforce the strong physical bond between mum and baby and can reduce a mother’s chance of developing certain illnesses in later life.

Councillor Jackie Drayton, Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families wants to encourage as many mums as possible to get involved with the scheme.

“I know that ‘breast is best’ but it’s not always easy for new mums to do, especially when you’re out and about and need to feed your baby,” she said. “There is loads of support out there to help new mums to breast feed their babies for as long as they can and information about this brilliant scheme.  I’d love to announce Sheffield as a Breastfeeding Friendly City by next year.”

Peer supporters are based in Children’s Centres across Sheffield working to support breastfeeding mothers and their babies.

Action for Children have also organised several events for Breastfeeding Awareness Week including friendly experts manning an information stand and giving advice at Mothercare in Sheffield city centre today.

Tomorrow you can meet them in Graves Park for a picnic between noon and 2pm, or meet at 11am to join the walking bus from Valley Park Children’s Centre.

Mums who are part of breastfeeding groups at an Action for Children-run children’s centre are being awarded a certificate congratulating them on their achievements throughout the week in a bid to officially recognise the efforts of the many volunteers involved.

Other initiatives include Breast Start at Balby Children’s Centre in Doncaster.

It is a support group for pregnant women who want to find out more about breastfeeding before the baby is born and for mums who want support once it arrives. The aim is to provide information and answer questions from mums as well as offering a way for mums to meet each other and share experiences.

Some centres are also now running sessions which are specifically aimed at child minders. They provide activities for babies and young children as well as offering childcare workers the opportunity to swap ideas.

Top breastfeeding tips for mums (and dads)

1 Have patience and perseverance

2 Relax

3 Find a sitting/lying position that is sustainable and comfortable

4 Accept all the help and support offered to you

5 Breastfeed on demand. Watch your baby for cues not the clock

6 Look after yourself. Make sure you have healthy snacks and drinks to hand

7 Check that you and your baby are positioned correctly to enable an effective latch on

8 If you are not comfortable or are worried about feeding in public, practise in front of the mirror.

9 Give yourself time to adapt

10 Have skin to skin contact with your baby

Top tips for dads:

1 Offer encouragement

2 Be supportive

3 Have skin to skin contact with your baby

4 Take on the role of bathing/changing baby and learn baby massage. This will give you one-to-one time with your baby

5 Nurture mum.

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