Hartlepool shopping centre is doing its bit to encourage breastfeeding

Hartlepool has the lowest breastfeeding start-up rate of anywhere in England.
Hartlepool has the lowest breastfeeding start-up rate of anywhere in England.

Hartlepool’s Middleton Grange shopping centre is reminding visitors it is a breastfeeding-friendly place after it was revealed the town has the lowest start-up rate anywhere in England.

Councillors and Hartlepool’s interim director of public health expressed concern recently over the town’s breastfeeding initiation rate of just 38% compared to the national average of about 75%.

Middleton Grange shopping centre manager Mark Rycraft.

Middleton Grange shopping centre manager Mark Rycraft.

Middleton Grange manager Mark Rycraft says that mums are welcome to feed their babies anywhere in the centre and it has a number of facilities that offer privacy.

Mr Rycraft said: “We welcome it and our staff are trained accordingly to acknowledge anyone’s needs.

“We have a breastfeeding room located near Primark with changing facilities where mums can feed in privacy.

“The Galleries cafe openly welcome anyone wanting to breastfeed, as well as the cafe at the rear of TJ Hughes.”

The centre also created a family room with enough room for mothers with pushchairs and double buggies to use after feedback from users of a SureStart Centre.  

The shopping centre was presented with a gold award for its facilities about two years ago from Hartlepool council’s breastfeeding co-ordinator.

Hartlepool’s Health and Wellbeing Board heard a story of a mum being asked to use a restaurant’s toilet.

Mr Rycraft said Middleton Grange is happy to work with the council to help change attitudes towards breastfeeding to support mums.

“We work with the council on lots of different initiatives and this would be no different to assist them in promoting that positive message,” he said.