RGU joins national scheme to encourage a positive breastfeeding culture

Monday 13 June 2022

Robert Gordon University (RGU) becomes the first higher or further education establishment in Grampian to sign up to the national Breastfeeding Friendly Scotland (BFS) scheme to further its commitment to support, normalise and celebrate breastfeeding.

Although breastfeeding in public places is protected by law, data from the Scottish Maternal and Infant Nutrition Survey shows that women who breastfeed lack the confidence to do so in public and worry about being challenged.

Backed by the Scottish Government and run by local health boards, the scheme allows businesses to demonstrate their support by displaying signage. In Grampian, more than 200 organisations have signed up to the initiative, but with a community of 16,000 students and 1,500 staff, Robert Gordon University represents the single biggest participant to date.

As part of their commitment, the university will not only display banners and posters across campus, but RGU staff has also received training by NHS Grampian to champion and protect mothers' rights and enable a safe environment. To further support parents with their infant feeding journeys, if preferred, private spaces are also available on campus.

Professor Lynn Kilbride, Vice Principal for Academic Development and Student Experience, said: “We are delighted to embrace the Breastfeeding Friendly Scotland Scheme. This initiative aligns with RGU’s family-friendly policies centred on proactively fostering a supportive, flexible, and inclusive environment not just for staff and students but the wider community.

“RGU has a track record of providing high-quality health education and is aware of the benefits of breastfeeding for mothers and infants and its positive impact on UK public health. We remain committed to effectively training professionals with the skills and knowledge necessary to support families and ensure infants get the best possible start in life.”

Last year RGU became the first university in Scotland to be awarded the UNICEF Baby Friendly Gold Award. The international accreditation recognises sustained quality in ensuring that midwives and health visitors are equipped to support infant feeding and early relationship building.

Emma Hay-Higgins, Lecturer in Nursing (MSc Advancing Practice), said: “As a new Mum and a staff member involved in teaching on the UNICEF BFI gold accredited programmes, I am proud of the University’s commitment to signing up to the Scottish Breastfeeding Friendly scheme.  It demonstrates a compassionate culture towards breastfeeding and supporting close and loving relationships, which can make a real difference to families reaching their personal feeding goals and shaping infants long term outcomes.”

Susan Webb, Director of Public Health, said: “Breastfeeding helps give infants the best start in life, and the Breastfeeding Friendly Scotland scheme helps organisations to support this, so it’s wonderful to see a very large organisation like RGU making the decision to join.”

Public Health Minister Maree Todd said: “I am delighted that Robert Gordon University has joined the Breastfeeding Friendly Scotland scheme. I would like to thank both the University and the Public Health Team in NHS Grampian for working in partnership to make this possible. Membership of the scheme allows parents to feel confident that breastfeeding is supported in those premises.

“The enthusiasm to take a whole campus approach and go well beyond the requirements of the scheme is hugely encouraging and appreciated. I hope that other Universities across the country will now join them and we can work together to make a truly Breastfeeding Friendly Scotland.”

Businesses interested in signing up to the Breastfeeding Friendly Scotland Scheme should visit the NHS Grampian website: Breastfeeding Friendly Scotland Scheme.

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