An important question faces new mothers across the nation: to breastfeed or not to breastfeed? It is, after all, a matter concerning the health and growth of the most precious person in the world to them.
We are often told ‘breast is best’, but not all women feel comfortable nourishing their new born baby this way. The reasons for their reluctance are deep-rooted and complex; they speak to public misconception and a very British, somewhat reserved, culture. But breastfeeding needn’t be daunting, says UK TV star Helen Flanagan, who has just become a Lansinoh Feed with Confidence Ambassador to encourage and support mums on their breastfeeding journey. Celebrity Angels caught up with the Coronation Street stalwart to ask about her breastfeeding journey and desire to shift public perception.
Q. Hi Helen, thanks for talking to us. First of all, what more do you think can be done to support breastfeeding women in the UK?
Helen Flanagan: More awareness about which places support breastfeeding. Signs in cafes would be a good start.
Q. Do you think you have received enough healthcare professional advice about breastfeeding?
HF: Yes, I stayed in hospital overnight so was given lots of support from the midwives. My health visitor was great, too, and said if I wanted regular visits to check on my latch or techniques, I just needed to call her.
Q. And what role do you think other mothers and people in the community can play in supporting each other?
HF: As mums, we need to empower each other, not be judgemental as we are all in it together.
Q. Why do you think there is a stigma attached to breastfeeding in public?
HF: I think it’s a lot down to our culture; we are still quite reserved in the UK compared to other countries where there is a far more relaxed view regarding breastfeeding in public. I tend to feed discreetly and make sure I am covered up, but that’s just me. A hungry baby is the priority not what parts of skin can, or cannot, be seen in public.
Q. Why should we encourage mothers to breastfeed?
HF: My priority is doing the best I can for my baby. Breastfeeding is the most natural thing to do so people need to remember this before judging.
Q. What do you hope to achieve by being a part of this campaign?
HF: I want to support changing public perception by helping venues to be more breastfeeding-friendly as a whole and recognise the very special people who support every mum on their breastfeeding journey. I also think there’s a job to do in encouraging women to be confident enough to breastfeed their baby wherever and whenever is required.
Q. Are breast pumps a good idea for those mums who are concerned about breastfeeding in the traditional way?
HF: Yes definitely, as a busy working mum, I find it useful having it there as an option. I have had a couple of different brands but the Lansinoh double pump is my favourite.
Q. What can women do to improve the quality of their breast milk?
HF: I have reduced my caffeine intake, as well as spicy food and chocolate to make sure my baby is getting the right nutrients from my breastmilk. Looking after me helps me look after my baby.
Q. Do you need to have support to breastfeed successfully?
HF: In my opinion, yes, I am lucky to have great network of family who are amazing when it comes to supporting me. My mum is my go-to whenever I have a question about breastfeeding and really has helped me push through the teary moments. Breastfeeding needn’t be daunting; it’s what your body was originally built to do. But the more support we have for mums in our daily lives, the easier it becomes to change society’s opinion and celebrate this wonderful period in life.
Women’s bodies are fascinating. Here at Celebrity Angels, we believe this should be celebrated—not stigmatised. If you agree, join Helen Flanagan and Lansinoh in advocating the most natural and compassionate act in the world.
Let’s empower women and support breastfeeding across the UK today.