BBC needs to do more for breastfeeding mothers, says presenter Alex Jones

Alex Jones thinks big companies could do more to support breastfeeding mums [Photo: Getty]
Alex Jones thinks big companies could do more to support breastfeeding mums [Photo: Getty]

Alex Jones doesn’t think big companies, like the BBC, do enough to help breastfeeding new mothers returning to work after maternity leave.

‘The One Show’ presenter and new mum believes employers could do more to help support new mothers by providing a crèche or space for breastfeeding.

Speaking at the Hay Festival, the 41-year-old, who is mum to Teddy, one, said bosses could do more to help support parents.

“Companies say all the right things. They say yes we’re there – we’re going to support families, make it possible for dads to take paternity leave, for mothers to take extended maternity leave, to feed at work.

“Actually the truth is, the facilities still aren’t there. They talk a good game but even at the BBC there isn’t a crèche, there isn’t a room where you can express, there isn’t a fridge where you can keep your milk.”

The TV presenter went on to discuss her own experiences of returning to work after maternity leave: “I work in quite a male-dominated environment and it’s hard to be doing a meeting and trying to express breast milk. It just didn’t work and so I had to throw in the towel.”

The 41-year-old mum was speaking at the Hay Festival [Photo: Getty]
The 41-year-old mum was speaking at the Hay Festival [Photo: Getty]

Alex was discussing the issues with BBC radio presenter Clemency Burton-Hill, who opened up about her own experiences of using a breastfeeding room at work.

She said: “You get in there, it’s dark, it’s smelly, it hasn’t been cleaned for a week.

“I used to go in there at 9am and find these blokes on the sofa having a kip from overnight news channel shifts… the men would look resentful that I roused them from their beauty sleep.”

It isn’t the first time Alex Jones has opened up about her experiences of returning to work after giving birth to her son in January last year.

Earlier this year, she admitted the three months she took for maternity leave may not have been enough.

Opening up about the realities of being a working mother on the ‘Happy Mum Happy Baby’ podcast, the 41-year-old told host Giovanna Fletcher: “I went back too soon. I was still trying to feed going back to work.”

“After the meeting I’d try and express, then go into the rehearsal, and go back and try and express a little bit more, and my milk was in the fridge with all the food being given to the guests! I was like, this is not working, this is a nightmare.”

The new mum also spoke candidly about the realities of combining her return to work with breastfeeding her baby.

“I’d sit on the sofa and the titles would start playing and I’d feel this stain start coming through the dress and I’d think, ‘Oh no, this is awful’. I thought, ‘I really hope people out there will understand what’s happened here.’”

And Alex revealed that the difficulties lead to her making the decision to stop combination feeding (a mixture of breast and formula feeding) Teddy and switch to bottle feeding.

“It destroyed my confidence in terms of trying to feed and be back at work,” she explains.

“So by four months I had to give in to formula completely. I was combining but it just wasn’t working.”

The NHS advises new mothers to give their employer written notification that she’s breastfeeding so that they can conduct a specific risk assessment.

“Workplace regulations require employers to provide suitable facilities where pregnant and breastfeeding mothers can rest,” the site explains.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommends that it’s good practice for employers to provide a private, healthy and safe environment for breastfeeding mothers to express and store milk. The toilets are not a suitable place to express breast milk.

The HSE website has more advice for new and expectant mothers or through the helpline on 0300 003 1747. You can also contact HSE via an online form.

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