AN INITIATIVE by Dorset HealthCare to gently encourage more women to breastfeed has gone viral with their posters being shared across the world by healthcare professionals, as well as in the Houses of Parliament.

Trust Breastfeeding Advisor Lead Liz Stacey and her colleagues travelled to the capital to talk to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Infant Feeding, and network with other leading health professionals.

Liz said: “Research has highlighted the need for changing the messaging around breastfeeding as women often say they feel pressured by the ‘breast is best’ approach.

“We want to encourage mums to ‘give it a go’ rather than them feel like it’s ‘all or nothing’, and I think these posters go some way to achieving this."

“All of the mothers featured are local and are pictured breastfeeding their baby in their own home. They also came up with taglines that had personal meaning to them.”

Caroline Blake, from Bournemouth, struggled to breastfeed her son Jack at first, and was told by some health professionals that the chance had probably been missed.

“I felt extremely guilty and a bit of a failure as a mother, but Jack and I persevered and three weeks later we cracked it, but I know many mums in my situation might have given up and continued to feel disheartened," she said.

“I guess I wanted to be involved in this campaign to show that whether you breastfeed for just a day or a week, you haven’t failed – just keep trying. It’s a learning curve for both you and your child."

Stephanie Saunders, also from Bournemouth, experienced similar problems with her son Jenson, who was born prematurely.

“Mothers should feel proud and confident to breastfeed," she said. "I felt quite scared to begin with because it was a new experience, and giving birth is daunting enough, but we should never feel pressured.

“The posters are already having a positive impact, and I think the gentle straplines give a real sense of calm and warmth which will appeal to women. Mothers don’t want to be preached at.”

The posters are on display in clinics, GP surgeries, children’s centres and maternity units across Dorset, and build on the Breastfeeding Welcome Scheme the Trust launched a year ago.