Guide to Establishing Breastfeeding Friendly Premises

Creating a Breastfeeding Friendly Environment for Mothers and Babies

The benefits of breastfeeding on babies, mothers and the community are well known. The longer babies are breastfed, the more health benefits mothers and their babies will have. Hence, nowadays, most mothers want to breastfeed their babies for as long as circumstances allow. Every so often, breastfeeding mothers go out with their children visiting shopping malls, restaurants, café and leisure facilities; and using the public transport system. There is often a need to directly breastfeed their children in these public places. While most of their experiences are positive, mothers have spotted room for improvement in staff attitude and facilities in some premises. The more supportive is the community, including public premises being breastfeeding friendly, the longer mothers are enabled to breastfeed and the more healthy children will become.

What is "Breastfeeding Friendly Premises"?

According to a survey conducted by the Department of Health in 2013, almost 60% of mothers had directly breastfed in public so as to appropriately respond to their babies’ needs. In addition, among mothers who had never breastfed in public, a half expressed their wish to do so.

"Breastfeeding Friendly Premises" is a place where breastfeeding mothers and their families feel welcome and are supported to breastfeed anytime, anywhere. The following are recommended supportive measures to be adopted by staff:

  • Respect the mother’s freedom to choose where to breastfeed;
  • Do not disturb a mother who is breastfeeding, e.g. do not ask her to cover up, stop, or move to another area;
  • Offer an appropriate location to a mother who wishes for more privacy to breastfeed, as far as practicable, e.g. a secluded seat that is away from the entrance;
  • Be supportive of the needs of breastfeeding mothers and babies, e.g. explain to other customers about the situation.

It is inappropriate to ask mothers to breastfeed their babies in toilets!!

What are the Benefits to Corporate/ Business by Establishing "Breastfeeding Friendly Premises"?

Making your premises breastfeeding friendly is a quality customer service that improves corporate image and gains public recognition. Other customers will also be impressed by the staff's friendly and helpful attitude to breastfeeding mothers and their families. Good news travels fast. The business will be freely publicised through mothers’ word-of-mouth recommendations among their families and friends.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1: Will establishing a "Breastfeeding Friendly Premises" hugely increase our operating costs?

Answer 1: No.There is no direct financial cost in making your public premises breastfeeding friendly. Most mothers simply wish to have an environment that makes them feel comfortable when breastfeeding. The friendly and supportive attitude of staff and other customers are what mothers are looking for.

Question 2: Do we have to provide a room for the breastfeeding mother?

Answer 2: Not a must.A room for breastfeeding would be ideal. If space is available to provide a babycare room, you may take reference to the practice note, "Provision of Babycare Rooms in Commercial Buildings", issued by the Buildings Department for the recommended facilities at http://www.bd.gov.hk/english/documents/pnap/ADV/ADV032.pdf.

If a room is unavailable, you may arrange a place with more privacy, or have some handy information on nearby breastfeeding facilities for use by mothers in need. In fact, many breastfeeding mothers wish to continue their social activities while breastfeeding, e.g. dinning with families, chatting with friends, so special arrangements for breastfeeding mothers are actually not required. The most important thing is to respect the mother’s freedom to choose where to breastfeed.

Question 3: How to handle the situation where other customers are concerned about seeing a mother breastfeeding?

Answer 3: Customers usually do not have concerns about seeing a mother breastfeed. Staff may explain to the concerned customers that breastfeeding is a natural way to feed a baby. When a child is hungry, the mother needs to respond to his need. If necessary, you may offer the customer a seat away from the breastfeeding mother to avoid the embarrassment, or seek help from a more experienced staff to handle the situation.

Let’s get started.Support breastfeeding by makingyour premises breastfeeding friendly now!

  • Step 1

    Develop a written organisation policy on "Breastfeeding Friendly Premises", which will enhance communication among staff and customers, and align practices. Please see the sample policy for reference.

  • Step 2

    Identify areas with more privacy in the premises for mothers who wish to breastfeed in private and make these areas known to all staff.

  • Step 3

    Staff orientation is the key to successful implementation of breastfeeding friendly measures. Communicate to each member of the staff about the organisation's policy and practices of breastfeeding friendly premises. Make sure the staff is familiarised with the policy, know of the areas with more privacy, and confident in managing the common scenarios.

  • Step 4

    Publicising your breastfeeding friendly premises will enable breastfeeding mothers to find and use it when needed. Also, other customers will be aware that mothers are welcome to breastfeed anywhere at the premises. You may publicise by different means, e.g. announcing it at your organisation’s website or social media, and/ or posting a welcome signage ("You are welcome to breastfeed") at eye catching areas at the entrance and within the premises.

Policy Sample

"Breastfeeding Friendly Premises" Policy

Our Organisation (or Company) acknowledges that breastfeeding is the natural way to feed babies and young children. We welcome and support mothers to breastfeed in public areas of our premises.

This policy aims to support mothers to breastfeed in public. All staff should be informed of this policy to ensure that they are aware of it.

All staff will take the following actions to support this policy:

  1. Respect the freedom of breastfeeding mothers in choosing where to breastfeed; the presence of a breastfeeding room does not mean that she must choose to use the room.
  2. Do not disturb a breastfeeding mother, ask her to cover up or move to another area unless there is safety concern or blockage of exit/ passage way.
  3. Offer an appropriate location (e.g. a seat away from the main traffic, a secluded corner, a breastfeeding room, a nearby community babycare facility) if a mother wishes to have more privacy to breastfeed, as far as practicable. Toilets or restrooms are not appropriate places for feeding babies and should not be offered.
  4. Support breastfeeding mothers in need, e.g. explain to other clients about the breastfeeding friendly policy and the feeding needs of babies.

Breastfeeding Resources of the Department of Health

Information on breastfeeding of the Family Health Service of the Department of Health

http://s.fhs.gov.hk/xknkz

Information from Unicef

Public spaces can provide space and support to help mothers sustain breastfeeding

Pledge your support to breastfeeding mothers now.

www.SayYesToBreastfeeding.hk

Contact us to learn more

Tel: 2833 6139

E-mail: bf@unicef.org.hk

#SayYesToBreastfeeding

(Content revised 06/2015)