Mothers show support for breastfeeding at Hardie Park

HARDIE Park in Stanford-le-Hope marked World Breastfeeding Week by joining in with the worldwide ‘Latch On’ event.

The ‘Latch On’ saw around 30 mums turn up with their young children to Hardie Park on Friday to breastfeed and give general support.

World Breastfeeding Week took place between 1-7 August, and Hardie Park was just one of around 900 places that joined in ‘Latch On’.

Mandie Groves organised the Stanford event and is a volunteer at Hardie Park. She runs weekly support sessions for breastfeeding mothers every Friday at the park during school term time from 12.30pm to 2.30pm and said it is important mothers feel comfortable breastfeeding in any setting.

She said: “Breastfeeding seems to be something that everyone has an opinion on, but at the end of the day it’s just feeding a baby.

“There are multiple benefits to breastfeeding and the longer you breast feed the better. Even at three years the child is still getting antibodies, still getting immunity, still getting that comfort and reassurance from your mum. You find when a toddler falls over they run straight over to mum to be fed. That’s not just because of the nutrition of the milk, but because the milk contains painkillers as well.

“There are people that are probably a bit embarrassed about breastfeeding and don’t understand it or haven’t been exposed to it, so events like today help to normalise it and get it more out in the public domain.”

The law states that mothers are allowed to breastfeed in any public place, and Mandie said that Hardie Park is a place where breastfeeding is welcomed all around the park, or in private rooms, if the mother prefers to breastfeed discreetly.

She added: “Hardie Park is a very friendly breastfeeding park. We’ve got posters and stickers up saying breastfeeding welcome, but even if you go somewhere else that looks hostile and non-breastfeeding welcome, the law protects any breastfeeding mother. You can breastfeed in any public place, in a swimming pool, in a church, on a street, in a bus, on a train, any public place a mum can breastfeed.

“It’s against the law for the establishment to tell the mum to leave, so if it does upset someone, that someone needs to move and not the mum. We happily adopt that policy here and we’ve never had a negative comment here at all.

“Here if someone comes to the counter and asks if we have somewhere to feed the baby our response will be ‘anywhere, or we have a private room’. But the key thing is never accept having to breastfeed in the toilet. That’s unhygienic, it’s unfriendly, it’s unwelcoming and it’s nasty.”