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There for the long haul

The evidence is very clear – it’s beneficial for a mum to breastfeed for as long as they can and until they feel ready to stop. It’s a very personal decision and support from family and friends can make all the difference.

But getting into a routine, going out and about again and eventually going back to work can all seem very daunting for a new mum.

As a partner, grandparent, and friend or colleague of a breastfeeding mum, how can you support her for as long as she wants to breastfeed?

Feeding when out and about…

Many women feel very anxious about feeding their baby in public – especially for the first time. In fact, public perception is mainly positive but media stories of women being harassed are scary, even if it’s very rare. And the whole idea of getting it together, calming a screaming baby, and managing clothing can be unnerving.

So how can you help?

  • Find out what worries her and acknowledge those feelings. Be respectful and sensitive – you may not be able to solve those problems, but you can be around for moral support
  • Know her rights. It is illegal to ask a women to leave a public space because she is breastfeeding
  • Plan ahead. If you’re her partner, think about what she may need and help her to pack a bag. If you’re meeting up, suggest a breastfeeding friendly place to meet
  • Get her comfortable. She doesn’t need to cover up but if she wants to all she needs is a muslin or a light blanket. Offer to fetch a glass of water
  • Help her relax. If she is worried, chat to her to her, and reassure her that other people are not looking or reacting. Remind her that she is only responsible for meeting her baby’s needs – not for the feelings or the discomfort of others.
Going back to work…

What an emotional decision this can be for a new mum – to leave her baby and return to work. It’s something she may look forward to, or dread; it may be out of necessity or desire. Often a mixture of all of this and usually never an easy decision.

Make time to talk through the options and encourage her to plan for the transition. Returning to work does not mean that a mum must stop breastfeeding. Workplace regulations require employers to support breastfeeding. More information can be found at the Health and Safety Executive website.

Jo Roberts, West Berkshire Breastfeeding Support 01189456157

Contact us for support

If you have any questions about this topic or any other health and wellbeing concerns, please give us a call or drop us an email. Our Health Visiting duty lines are open every weekday between 9am-4.30pm:

Bracknell: 0300 365 6000 or email
Wokingham: 0300 365 7000 or email:
Reading: 0118 931 2111 or email
West Berkshire: 0300 303 3944 or email:   

National organisations for support

National Breastfeeding Helpline 9:30am–9:30pm every day 0300 100 0212

Association of Breastfeeding Mothers

Breastfeeding Network 

About the author

West Berkshire Breastfeeding Support