BUSINESSES in Swindon are showing their support for new mums by backing a bid to change cultural perceptions of breastfeeding.

Celebrated every year, Breastfeeding Awareness Week is intended to highlight the benefits it brings not just for babies but for their mums.

Baristocats has been breastfeeding-friendly since it opened over three years ago.

Manager of the coffee lounge Marcus Kittridge said: “Our windows have stickers, so people know that we are but unfortunately we don’t have a separate facility.

“We have a disabled toilet which is something we have to have by law and because of how much space that takes up and how small we are, putting in a separate facility isn’t possible. I don’t understand why we wouldn’t make it friendly for little ones to feed, it’s natural.”

Ian Hamilton, operations assistant at Community Centre Christ Church, said: “We have poster up and we have a sticker on the door, and we have been breastfeeding-friendly since March last year. My personal opinion is that it’s perfectly normal, the fact that people are against it is crazy – it’s what breasts are for.”

Boswells Café in Swindon has been welcoming mums who need to breastfeed since it opened 12 years ago, the manager Maggie Sherman said: “We are breastfeeding welcome, we used to have a sticker, but we have been for 12 years since we opened. It’s normal I’m not one of those people who says you can’t, we have always been welcome here.”

National Childbirth Trust volunteer counsellor Elena Rossi said: “People have personal ideas or just general cultural perceptions. For an example in China, the perception they have is that they are very open to it because it’s seen to make babies strong. But here there is a different culture. There is still a lot to be done to help normalise it. It requires so many resources and we are not there yet.

“It’s about giving women opportunities for breastfeeding and have the support every step of the way because every day is different.”

Breastfeeding reduces the chances of mothers getting breast cancer later in life. It helps to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. It is a message the NCT, which supports thousands of women around the country, is keen to promote to new parents with the help of training courses for volunteers like Elena to help communicate and support soon to be and new parents.

But it is a challenge. Elena said: “There used to be four volunteers but now there is just me. I think that changed because you never had to pay for the NCT courses you need to take to become a volunteer but now you do.

“Just last year I helped 300 mums on my own. It’s nice to meet them at the meetings and see how we have helped and getting that feedback. We help by supporting midwives too.”

The theme of this year’s awareness week is empowering all types of parents by providing information and support to create environments where women can feed with support from others including fathers, families and workplaces.