Health Minister Robin Swann and Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon have welcomed the news that Translink has become the latest organisation to join the Public Health Agency’s (PHA) Breastfeeding Welcome Here scheme – a programme that aims to increase the number of premises which welcome breastfeeding mums.
This membership represents a huge support network to breastfeeding mums here, involving 39 bus and rail stations and a fleet of over 1,400 buses, coaches and trains.
In joining this scheme, Translink has agreed that:
breastfeeding is acceptable in all areas of their business premises or fleet open to the general public
a mother who is breastfeeding in an area of the business premises or fleet open to the general public will not be asked to move to another area or stop breastfeeding
all staff members will be aware of the scheme and be supportive of breastfeeding mums
Translink will display the Breastfeeding Welcome Here scheme window sticker and membership certificate.
The rates of breastfeeding in Northern Ireland are amongst the lowest in Europe. While the majority (92%) of people in Northern Ireland agree that breastfeeding is normal, six out of ten mothers attempt breastfeeding in hospital, with half of babies born receiving breastmilk at discharge. Only around a fifth of babies are still receiving breastmilk at six months, despite World Health Organization and UNICEF recommendations that babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months.
Health Minister Robin Swann said: “A healthy infancy is the foundation for lifetime health and wellbeing. Breast milk provides infants with the nutrients and immune factors they need for healthy growth and development. It’s important that we do all we can to encourage more parents to choose breastfeeding for their children and to ensure that they are supported to do so. Initiatives like Breastfeeding Welcome Here help to normalise breastfeeding and create the right conditions for mothers to breastfeed in comfort, wherever they are. I commend Translink for joining the scheme.”
Minister Nichola Mallon said: “The benefits of breastfeeding for mother and baby are well known so it is vital that as a society we do all that we can to make breastfeeding as accessible as possible and remove any barriers in place. The Public Health Agency’s ‘Breastfeeding Welcome Here’ initiative aims to do just that so I am delighted that Translink has now joined the scheme.
“As Minister for Infrastructure, I am committed to ensuring that all families are supported on our public transport services and in our bus and train stations. Today is a very positive step and I hope that all mothers will feel reassured that Translink sites and services will continue to provide a welcome, safe and secure environment for everyone.”
Janet Calvert, the Public Health Agency’s Regional Breastfeeding Lead, said: “The Breastfeeding Welcome Here scheme was created to help show community support for breastfeeding mums. The scheme includes over 800 cafes, restaurants, shops, council facilities, universities, tourist attractions and other public and private sector venues across Northern Ireland. Having Translink join this scheme is such a positive step for breastfeeding families. It helps increase public awareness about breastfeeding, and importantly it gets the message out there to all 1.5m Translink passengers going to work, education, health services, leisure activities and more every week that babies have to be fed and they can be breastfed no matter where they are.
“Making it easier for mums to choose breastfeeding will help improve breastfeeding rates in Northern Ireland. Scientific evidence shows that babies who are breastfed are generally at a lower risk of having infections, allergies, obesity, diabetes and sudden infant death. Women who breastfeed can also have a lower risk of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer and osteoporosis, therefore it is really important that we support our mums on this journey, by showcasing that breastfeeding is welcome in all areas of life we can create a supportive environment for mums and families.”
Chris Conway, Translink Chief Executive Officer, said: “Public transport is a key service for communities across Northern Ireland and our services are for everyone to enjoy. By embracing the Breastfeeding Welcome Here scheme we’re sending a message of support to breastfeeding mums that Translink offers a safe and welcoming environment to feed their babies.
“We look forward to welcoming more families on board our services, to connect communities and provide accessible and sustainable transport, which plays a major role in the race to Net Zero emissions and improving public health”.