AS National Breastfeeding Week (June 20 to 26) gets underway, Somerset County Council is backing initiatives to support mums.

Breastfeeding is scientifically proven to benefit both mum and baby and while more than 80% of new mothers in Somerset breastfeed when their babies are born, the figure drops significantly by the time babies are 6-8 weeks old.

Somerset County Council is listening to families who aim to breastfeed for longer and is committed to offering appropriate support to see this figure increase.

All mums receive support from their midwife and health visitor to help build loving relationships with their babies and support to continue breastfeeding.

They are also welcome at community drop-in groups taking place across the county.

And the council has also helped fund ‘Carry Me Kate Parenting Services CIC’, offering free baby slings for eligible families.

The funding, along with additional grants, has enabled Carry Me Kate sessions to now take place across Somerset and extend their provision.

Carry Me Kate supports parents with a sling library, breastfeeding peer support, social networking and a consultancy service for people wanting to try out different types of baby carriers in Somerset.

Trained advisers support parents/care givers to find the right sling for them whilst following the safe baby-wearing TICKS checklist.

Cllr Christine Lawrence, cabinet member for public health and wellbeing, said: “We are proud to support the Carry Me Kate sessions and encourage parents and care givers to attend.

"Baby carriers help promote the importance of a close and loving relationship between babies and their caregivers and helps release oxytocin, a love hormone which supports a feeling of wellbeing and relaxation whilst promoting a deeper connection between parent and baby.

"This contributes positively to perinatal and infant mental health.

“Scientific evidence also shows that when carried, a baby’s physiological regulation improves. It helps regulate temperature, heart and respiratory rates and emotional and physical growth.”

Kate Mahoney, from Carry Me Kate, said: “We are super excited to continue our work with public health across Somerset.

"Carrying your baby provides both caregiver and child so many emotional and physical benefits.

"We provide parents and caregivers tools to enable them to carry hands-free.

"Receiving grant funding from both the council, the Somerset Community Foundation and the HPC Community Fund means we can support more parents with free sling hire and provide a weekly group from September in Bridgwater.”

Families should speak to their health visitor, or Kate at Carry Me Kate, to find out if they are eligible for free sling hire.

Any parent or caregiver are welcome to the groups where sling hire is available. Contact Carry me Kate Parenting Service CIC Sling Library at Facebook (@carrymekatesling) or via email

Meanwhile, there are now also 300 public places across Somerset signed up to Somerset County Council’s Positive About Breastfeeding Scheme.

The scheme promotes greater acceptance and promotion of breastfeeding in commercial, health and community settings, with the aim of increasing the numbers of mothers who feel comfortable and confident to breastfeed their baby.

To achieve the award, places must agree babies can be breast fed anywhere in any public area, a breastfeeding policy is implemented and all staff are made aware of how to implement the policy.

Cllr Lawrence added: “We are committed to enabling all mums to feed their babies naturally if they can.

"We know it’s sometimes not always easy but the health benefits to mother and baby are so valuable.

"We continually drive to provide more support across Somerset to help families.

“Evidence proves breastfeeding is good for mum and good for baby. It provides a baby with all they need for healthy growth and development in the first six months and beyond.

"Breastmilk constantly adapts to meet a baby’s daily needs and protects them against a number of infections.

"It also helps mums by reducing the risk of breast cancer, diabetes and ovarian cancer.”

Visit or for more information about breastfeeding, the Positive About Breastfeeding Scheme, or the support available.