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A third of mothers embarrassed to publicly breastfeed

More than a third of mothers who breastfeed feel embarrassed or uncomfortable to do so in public, the results of a Public Health England (PHE) survey released today suggest.

As well as 34% of mothers feeling embarrassed or uncomfortable, 6 out of 10 mothers try to hide the fact they are breastfeeding in public.

Despite this, 72% of people support public breastfeeding the poll of 2,393 UK adults, carried out as part of the Start4Life campaign, revealed.

In response, Dr Ann Hoskins, deputy director of health and wellbeing at PHE said: "Breastfeeding gives babies the best start in life, and it comes with a whole host of benefits for the mother too. Anxiety about breastfeeding in public certainly shouldn't be a barrier to breastfeeding in general.

“One of the great benefits of breastfeeding is that it can be done anytime and anywhere, so as a society we need to help new mothers feel comfortable in feeding their babies wherever and whenever they need to, and we all have a role to play in that,” she added.

The survey also found that 44% of respondents agree it is acceptable to breastfeed anywhere, but only 57% felt restaurants were an acceptable venue for breastfeeding and 51% felt breastfeeding on public transport was acceptable.

Natalie MacGregor, a mother whose story was used to create one of the short videos for the PHE campaign, said: “When I first tried breastfeeding in public, I was really self-conscious and used to cover myself up with a huge spotted cover, which drew far more attention than the breastfeeding itself!

“It took until the birth of my second son to realise that I had nothing to be embarrassed about, and I just wish that I realised this earlier,” she continued.