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“In Sheffield, we believe that breastfeeding is the healthiest way for a woman to feed her baby and we recognise the important health benefits now known to exist for the mother and her child.”

In Sheffield we aim to:

  • Raise awareness of the health benefits of breastfeeding
  • Promote positive attitudes towards breastfeeding.
  • Make mums aware of the breastfeeding support and information available to them
  • Raise the confidence of mums to breastfeed in public
  • Encourage venues and workplaces in the city to support breastfeeding mums

How Sheffield supports Breastfeeding

We have worked hard in Sheffield to increase breastfeeding rates and to create support for breastfeeding mums and their families. Our aim is to be a Breastfeeding Friendly City and in support of this we have developed a network of Breastfeeding Peer Support Workers and a Breastfeeding Friendly Award scheme.

The Breastfeeding Friendly Award

We are very lucky in the city to have the support of so many businesses that recognise how important it is for a breastfeeding mum to feel confident and comfortable when breastfeeding in public.

If someone criticizes you for breastfeeding in public, the La Leche League International offers a few different ways to respond:

  • Ignore the comment or change the subject.
  • Share information on breastfeeding with the other person.
  • Make a joke about the situation to lighten the mood.
  • Show that you are recognizing the person’s viewpoint by asking further questions without agreeing or responding to the criticism.
  • Be empathetic — show that you understand the other person’s feeling and meaning.

Most of all, it is important to remember that you are meeting your baby’s needs. It isn’t possible to stay home all the time and you can feel free to feed your baby while out and about. You should be proud of your commitment! Plus, no bottles and formula means fewer supplies to pack!
Sheffield has also achieved full UNICEF Baby Friendly accreditation having achieved stage 3 of the UNICEF Baby Friendly Awards.

Advantages of Breastfeeding to Society

Breastfeeding is more than a personal or family matter, and the decision to breastfeed affects more than an individual mother-baby pair or a single family. Breastfeeding rates have a powerful impact on the whole society by affecting the health of mothers and babies, the economy, and the environment.

Our entire society benefits when babies are given the best possible start in life. The babies being born today will be our country’s future and the nutrition they receive in infancy will serve as the cornerstone of their growth and development. When our children are given every chance to reach their full potential as adults, all of us stand to benefit. Conversely, when babies face health disadvantages because of their early diet, we all pay the price.

Breastfeeding helps to protect the environment:

Environmentally-friendly in its production, consumption and disposal, breastfeeding is a natural and renewable resource. On the other hand, the production of formula, cans, bottles, nipples, labels, packaging, and advertising uses trees, metal, glass, plastics, paper, and fuel and creates an enormous volume of waste materials.

Breastfeeding saves money that would otherwise be spent on formula.

The average family of a bottle-fed baby spends £450 each year on formula. Breastfeeding also makes economic sense because it is less costly to produce than formula; it also allows society to make considerable savings in health care costs. Breastfeeding reduces infant health care costs because breastfed babies have fewer hospitalizations and fewer infections. The latest set of infant feeding profiles (2010 to 2011) from the Department of Health show a correlation between higher breastfeeding rates and lower rates of inpatient admissions for babies less than one year old. This analysis shows a correlation at Primary Care Trust level between higher rates of breastfeeding prevalence and lower rates of inpatient admissions among infants under one year old for 10 conditions, including lower respiratory tract infections, gastroenteritis, eczema, otitis media (ear infection), lactose intolerance and asthma. For some conditions, like otitis media, there was also a correlation between breastfeeding prevalence and the rates of admission for children aged 1 to 5 years.

Gastro-enteritis is up to 10 times more common among bottle-fed babies. The hospitalisation of one infant with gastro-enteritis costs between £500 and £1000. Department of Health statistics reveal that 11,554 babies were hospitalised with gastro-enteritis in the UK in 1992. This cost the NHS approx £12 million. Cases of gastro-enteritis treated by GPs cost the NHS a further £6 million. Breastfed babies are rarely hospitalised for gastro-enteritis. Breastfeeding also protects against many other diseases and infections all of which incur costs to the NHS and distress to families. For example, bottle fed babies are twice as likely to suffer from respiratory infections. 49,000 babies were hospitalised with respiratory infections in 1992. Source: Protective effect of breastfeeding against infection. Howie et al., BMJ 1990 336

Current Infant-Feeding Recommendations

Breastfeeding is an unequalled way of providing ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants; it is also an integral part of the reproductive process with important implications for the health of mothers. As a global public health recommendation, infants should be exclusively breastfed1 for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health2. Thereafter, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond. Exclusive breastfeeding from birth is possible except for a few medical conditions, and unrestricted exclusive breastfeeding results in ample milk production. (World Health Organisation)

Breastfeeding benefits for Children

Before a baby is born, the uterus protects him or her against most of the germs to which the mother is exposed. After birth, the mother’s breast milk continues to protect against many of the viruses, bacteria and parasites to which the baby is now exposed. Several substances in breast milk not only prevent diseases; some stimulate and strengthen the development of the baby’s immature immune system, resulting in better health, even years after breastfeeding has ended. For these and other reasons, based on scientific evidence, the World Health Organisation has adopted, as a public health recommendation, that babies should be fed exclusively on breast milk for six months and continue breastfeeding at least until two years of age.

Breastfeeding promotes child survival

If all babies were fed only breast milk for the first six months of life, the lives of an estimated 1.5 million infants would be saved every year and the health and development of millions of others would be greatly improved

In resource-poor settings, exclusive breastfeeding may be the best option for HIV-positive mothers. This is confirmed by the November 2006 WHO Consensus Statement on HIV and Infant Feeding. Breastfeeding is an essential means of providing food security for millions of infants worldwide and even more so in developing countries and in regions having to cope with war, conflict, population displacement, natural disasters, or economic crises.

Breastfeeding reduces the incidence of infectious diseases

  • Otitis media: Middle ear infections are one of the most frequent reasons for seeing the doctor. In a US study, infants from birth to twelve months who were not breastfed had twice as many ear infections as babies who were exclusively breastfed for about four months
  • Diarrhoea: The antibodies in a mother’s milk protect her baby from the germs causing diarrhoea. In poor communities, diarrhoea caused by bottle-feeding is responsible for acute sickness. The cycle of illness, dehydration and malnutrition weakens the child, often fatally. A study from the Republic of Belarus shows that infants exclusively breastfeeding at three months have 40% less risk of developing gastrointestinal infections.
  • Pneumonia: Worldwide, pneumonia is one of the leading causes of death in children under five years of age. A study in Brazil showed that the risk of hospitalization for pneumonia among non-breastfed infants was 17 times greater than that for breastfed infants.

Breastfeeding reduces the risk of asthma and other allergies

  • In Australia, risk of childhood asthma decreases by at least 40% in infants breastfed for four months.
  • A Medline review of twelve studies relating to breastfeeding and asthma points out that exclusive breastfeeding reduced the risk of asthma by 30% and showed still better results (48%) in families with a history of asthma-related illnesses

Breastfeeding improves cognitive, linguistic and motor development

In Denmark a recent study confirmed that breastfeeding affected brain development as measured in the child’s ability to crawl, to grip and to babble in polysyllables: the longer the duration of breastfeeding, the higher the child’s capacities.

Long-term effects of breastfeeding on health

  • Bone mass: In Tanzania, a study demonstrated that there was significant association between breastfeeding in infancy and higher bone mineral density among the eight year-old boys examined, in comparison with children that had not been breastfed (11).
  • Haemophilus influenzae meningitis: In Sweden a study showed that low breastfeeding rates were followed, five to ten years later, by increased meningitis rates.
  • Obesity: In a number of countries (Germany, Czech Republic, the UK, and the USA) research demonstrates that breastfeeding reduces the risk of obesity.

Breastfeeding benefits for Mothers

Breastfeeding is an integral part of the reproductive cycle: exclusive breastfeeding, followed at six months by the introduction of appropriate complementary foods. Continued breastfeeding until the age of two years or more brings the reproductive cycle full circle. Studies have shown that there are many women for whom contraception is unavailable, unaffordable or unacceptable. For these women, breastfeeding (according to the LAM criteria mentioned below) is the primary means of delaying pregnancy and spacing births. Moreover, breastfeeding develops emotional and psychological well-being in mothers, and has numerous health advantages.

Breastfeeding helps in spacing children (LAM):

As long as a mother breastfeeds fully or nearly fully and as long as her periods have not returned, her protection against pregnancy during the first six months is 98 %. This family planning method is called the Lactational Amenorrhea Method – LAM.

Breastfeeding results in the reduction of anaemia

In the first hours and days after birth, early breastfeeding brings about uterine contractions, preventing excessive blood loss. Over the following months, breastfeeding reduces the frequency and severity of anaemia by delaying the return of monthly periods and helping the mother build her iron reserves.

Long-term effects to breastfeeding on mothers’ health

  • Breast cancer: Studies from the US, China, Japan, New Zealand, the UK and Mexico show that women who breastfed their children have reduced risk of developing breast cancer and that the risk declines with increased duration of breastfeeding.
  • Ovarian cancer: Breastfeeding for at least two months per child decreases the mother’s risk of developing epithelial ovarian cancer.
  • Osteoporosis: The risk of hip fracture amongst women over 65 is reduced by half for those who have breastfed. It decreases by another quarter for those who have breastfed each of their children at least nine months.

Breastfeeding benefits for Families

Preparing for the arrival of the new baby, undergoing the birth process, and adapting to the child’s first months are among the most extraordinary, testing, and emotional periods that parents and families’ experience. Loving, caring for, nurturing, but also worrying about one’s child are normal feelings and are sometimes overwhelming. Any illness takes an emotional toll on families; sickness in a newborn baby or a working mother causes even more worry.

Breastfeeding strengthens family ties:

Studies have shown the emotional and psychological importance, as well as the bonding effects of breastfeeding to both mother and child. The importance of bonding is even greater when mothers return to work. Breastfeeding develops a mother’s confidence in her physical and emotional capacities.

Breastfeeding brings economic benefits and helps to save time:

  • Saving of time because there is no need to go out to buy breast milk substitutes or other goods.
  • Savings on the purchase of breast milk substitutes and other feeding equipment.
  • Less spending on medical care and medication.
  • Less time preparing bottles and cleaning utensils.
  • Less time and worry spent on having to care for illnesses that could often be avoided.

Breastfeeding benefits for Employers

When infants and children are sick, mothers or fathers often stay home to care for them. National laws may allow parents to take holiday leave or to call in sick themselves. This absenteeism is costly to employers and to national healthcare budgets. Many employed women have only a short period of paid maternity leave. If they want to breastfeed their babies, it is important to set up favourable conditions at the workplace. Many employers provide breastfeeding facilities on-site for their female workers. Adequate hygienic facilities for breastfeeding or expressing and storing breast milk are relatively easy and inexpensive to provide.

  • Breastfeeding reduces staff absenteeism
  • Breastfeeding contributes towards a more stable workforce
  • Employers who support their female employees (maternity benefits, breastfeeding breaks) note improved staff morale, less turnover and increased loyalty.

Food Hygiene Rating scheme

The Breastfeeding Friendly Award is working in partnership with the Food Hygiene Ratings Scheme in Sheffield which means that all Breastfeeding Friendly Awarded premises will have a food hygiene rating of 3 or above.

Eating out? Getting food in? Check the food hygiene rating

To help you choose where to eat out or shop for food Sheffield City Council is running the national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme. The scheme will give you information about the hygiene standards in restaurants, pubs, cafes, takeaways, hotels, and other places you eat out, as well as supermarkets and other food shops.

What is the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme?

The scheme is being run by Sheffield City Councilin partnership with the Food Standards Agency (the central Government Department with responsibility for food safety). It will help you choose where to eat out or shop for food by giving you information about the hygiene standards in food premises at the time they are inspected by one of our food safety officers to check that they are meeting legal requirements on food hygiene.

It’s not easy to judge hygiene standards on appearance alone so the rating gives you an idea of what’s going on in the kitchen, or behind closed doors. You can check the ratings and use the information to switch to or choose a place with higher standards. It’s also good to share this information with friends and family.

Why is the scheme important?

Telling consumers about hygiene standards in food outlets gives them greater choice. It also recognises those businesses with the highest standards and encourages others to improve. The overall aim is to reduce the number of cases of food poisoning which currently affects around one million people in the UK every year.

The scheme is being introduced across England, Wales and Northern Ireland so it will help residents and visitors to make informed choices about where to eat out or shop for food not just within Sheffield but also further afield. This will also help ensure that businesses are treated fairly and consistently with local competitors and with their competitors more widely.

Which businesses are given a rating?

Restaurants, takeaways, cafés, sandwich shops, pubs, hotels, supermarkets and other retail food outlets, as well as other businesses where consumers can eat or buy food, will be given a hygiene rating as part of the scheme.

How is the rating calculated?

Each business is given a rating following an inspection by a food safety officer. This is based on how well the business is meeting the requirements of food hygiene law at that time. In particular –

  • how hygienically the food is handled – safe food preparation, cooking, re-heating, cooling and storage
  • the condition of the structure of the premises – cleanliness, repair, layout, lighting, ventilation and other facilities
  • how the business manages what it does to make sure food is safe and so that the officer can be confident standards will be maintained in the future.

Each of these three elements is essential for making sure that food hygiene standards meet requirements and the food served or sold to you is safe to eat.

The rating reflects the conditions found at the time of the last inspection and does not reflect the quality of food or the standards of service the business provides.

What are the different ratings?

The food hygiene rating reflects the hygiene standards found at the time the business is inspected by a food safety officer. These officers are specially trained to assess food hygiene standards.

A business can be given one of these ratings:

All businesses should be able achieve the top rating of 5.

The rating given shows how well the business is doing overall but also takes account of the element or elements most in need of improving and also the level of risk to people’s health that these issues pose. This is because some businesses will do well in some areas and less well in others but each of the three elements checked is essential for making sure that food hygiene standards meet requirements and the food served or sold to you is safe to eat.

To get the top rating of ‘5’, businesses must do well in all three elements.

Those with ratings of ‘0’ are very likely to be performing poorly in all three elements and are likely to have a history of serious problems. There may, for example, be a lack of sufficient cleaning and disinfection, and there may not be a good enough system of management in place to make sure the food is safe.

Where a business does not achieve the top rating, the food safety officer will explain to the person that owns or manages the business what improvements are needed.

Where will the food hygiene rating be displayed?

You can look up food hygiene ratings at food.gov.uk/ratings.

You can search for ratings for local businesses and anywhere else the scheme is being operated in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Businesses are also given a window sticker and certificate showing their rating and are encouraged to display these at their premises in places where you can easily see them when you visit. Display is voluntary at the moment

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