14/05/2003

Report reveals NI not convinced breast is best

The latest research figures have revealed that Northern Ireland still has the lowest uptake of breastfeeding in the UK.

Commissioned by the Health Promotion Agency for Northern Ireland, the survey indicated that a lack of social acceptability for breastfeeding is one of the main reasons that mums in Northern Ireland resort to bottle feeding.

This issue was highlighted at a recent Regional Conference on Breastfeeding at the Armagh City Hotel.

Among the speakers was Janet Calvert, Regional Breastfeeding Programme Coordinator at the Health Promotion Agency. She explained: “Our research shows that while over half of mums here do start off breastfeeding, very few continue past the first few weeks. When mums encounter difficulties, quite often they choose to stop breastfeeding because of a lack of support and the sense that breastfeeding is still not considered to be acceptable.

“Many mums want to make breastfeeding part of their daily lives and routines, including discreetly breastfeeding in public, but unfortunately it is the negative attitudes and embarrassment of family members and others that makes it difficult to persevere.

"This is Breastfeeding Awareness Week and we are urging families and the public to accept the importance of breastfeeding and support our breastfeeding mums.”

The importance of giving babies the best nutritional start in life was among the tips emphasised to more than 200 health professionals including midwives, health visitors, dietitians and representatives of voluntary breastfeeding support groups.

National Breastfeeding Awareness Week, 11- 17 May 2003, aims to raise awareness of the health benefits of breastfeeding, encourage social acceptance of breastfeeding and support mothers who are breastfeeding their babies.

The conference was organised by the Health Promotion Agency in association with the regional Breastfeeding Strategy Implementation Group.

(MB)

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