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Mothers are being encouraged to take up breastfeeding as part of Breastfeeding Awareness Week.

NHS Nene Clinical Commissioning Group, in conjunction with NHS Northamptonshire Public Health, and NHS Corby Clinical Commissioning Group are promoting the nationwide week which runs until June 30.

Health professionals say breastfeeding will give your children a stronger immune system, improve bonding between mother and child, and reduce the likelihood of your child becoming obese or developing type 2 diabetes.

And there is now a Breastfeeding Specialist Service which supports mothers with drop-in sessions in Corby, Northampton and Higham Ferrers.

Dr Emma Clancy, GP Children’s and Maternity lead for NHS Nene Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Here at NHS Nene Clinical Commissioning Group we are keen to promote the advantages of breastfeeding, which really does give your child the best start in life.

“Breast milk is free and natural and will give your baby all the nutrition they need for the first six months of their life.

“Many mums feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public, but the good news is that legislation is now on the side of breastfeeding mums. The Equality Act 2010 made it illegal to ask a breastfeeding woman to leave a shop, café or public transport. If babies are hungry, they will ask to be fed, wherever they are - whether this is at home, in the supermarket, or at the park.”

Marie McLoughlin, Public Health Specialist for NHS Northamptonshire, said: “We also know that motherhood is a difficult time particularly the first time around, and sometimes new mums can find it difficult to bond. Another advantage of breastfeeding is that it really helps mums to bond with their babies. But we recognise it is not easy – breastfeeding is a learned skill and some babies may need time and encouragement to breastfeed effectively.

“The NHS has a wealth of support available to mums, including midwives and health visitors and support is also available via voluntary organisations and local Sure Start Children’s Centres.”

Breastfeeding also lowers a mother’s risk of getting breast and ovarian cancer and osteoporosis in later life and naturally uses up to 500 calories a day.

The Breastfeeding Specialist Service provides drop-in sessions at the Pen Green Children’s Centre in Corby from 1pm to 3pm on Mondays, except bank holidays, at Higham Ferrers Children’s Centre in the town’s library from 10am to midday on Wednesdays and at the Penfold Children’s Centre in Northampton from 10am to midday on Thursdays.

For more information on breastfeeding, go to www.breastfeeding.nhs.uk or call the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 0300 100 0212.