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SCOTTISH women will be encouraged to breastfeed their children through an initiative which aims to make the practice more widely acceptable in public.
The project is targeting businesses, asking them to display stickers informing breastfeeding mothers that they are welcome to use their premises.
Health workers also hope to encourage more younger mothers to attend classes to learn about how to feed babies and other aspects of care using a more "youth-friendly" approach.
The project is focused in north-west Kilmarnock - the area featured in BBC documentary The Scheme - but if this proves a success then it could be rolled out across other parts of Scotland.
Liz Smith, community infant feeding co-ordinator at NHS Ayrshire and Arran, said that rates of breastfeeding in the region were very low. Across Ayrshire and Arran, the rate of breastfeeding at six to eight weeks is about 19.2 per cent. But in north-west Kilmarnock it is 5.7 per cent, which was why this area is being targeted first.
Smith said businesses were sent packs to tell them about the laws about breastfeeding and how they could support women.
"They have a sticker they can put up in their window which says you are welcome to breastfeed here, so that mums can see that although there is a law to support them, they also know that that place will be especially welcoming," she said.
Smith said some women, especially younger ones, were also put off going to very formal antenatal educational classes, and preferred to rely on family support. She said they wanted to redesign the service to make it more "youth friendly".
Grace Moore, assistant director of public health at NHS Ayrshire and Arran, said: "Education is an area of antenatal care which we consider very important, as women should have all the information, not just about infant feeding but about other topics, to enable them to make informed decisions."
Published Date: 12 September 2010
By Lyndsay Moss