The Metrocentre in Gateshead has been named in the top 10 shopping centres in the country for accommodating breastfeeding mums.
The breastfeeding brand Lasinoh analysed over 40 of the largest shopping centres in the UK, taking into account factors such as the number of breastfeeding areas and parenting facilities per visitors, the number of cafés per shops, and the accessibility of parenting services information on centre websites.
The top 10 centres were revealed as:
Silverburn Centre, Glasgow
White Rose Centre, Leeds
Telford Shopping Centre, Telford
Cabot Circus, Bristol
Lakeside Shopping Centre, Essex
Brent Cross, London
Victoria Square, Belfast
Lisa Craven, Marketing Manager at Lansinoh Laboratories UK Ltd, said: “We’re delighted to be able to recognise these shopping centres for their efforts in supporting new mums.
“The UK has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world, we want to champion the public places where breastfeeding is encouraged and mums are made to feel comfortable.
“Many new mums who have given birth recently may not have as much experience breastfeeding in public places, due to the pandemic.
"As rules relax and mums may be returning to shopping centres with their little ones, it can be daunting knowing where to go to breastfeed. It’s important that mums have access to comfortable breastfeeding facilities whilst doing their shopping, and just as importantly, that they know what these facilities are.
Lucy Thomson is a student nurse, and breastfeeding peer supporter, from Washington. She currently breastfeeds her 9-month-old daughter Charlotte and also fed her 3-year-old-son Frankie.
The 25-year-old says although she is confident feeding in public, and believes that all mother’s should be able to feed without judgement, when babies become more curious and aware of their surroundings, like her little girl, feeding can be difficult without a quiet space, because the babies get distracted.
She says when breastfeeding facilities are up to scratch it means there are less limits to what you can do as a mum.
Ms Thomson said: “Being able to go off when the baby’s hungry and being able to relax and feed, whenever I’ve been at the Metrocentre, makes all the difference.
“Because you’ve not got the worry of going somewhere and then thinking ‘well I need to be back by this time to feed’- the stress is alleviated knowing you’ve got that facility within walking distance.
“Not having the correct facilities in terms of busy shopping centres, busy areas, it can have a detrimental effect because you lose your confidence.
“You remember as a breastfeeding Mam, you remember every time your confidence has been knocked, and it can have a massive effect because it's something so natural, but it’s hard at the same time.
“It’s not just a case of putting the baby on the boob and everything’s hunky dory, you’ve got positioning, latch attachment, you’ve got to make sure the baby’s comfortable, you’ve got your posture, so yes, you can feed a baby anywhere and you can sit on the floor and feed a baby but having that comfort in an area specifically designated for breastfeeding makes all the difference to your experience."