PHA Encourage Support For Breastfeeding Mums

The Public Health Agency is encouraging greater support for breastfeeding mothers ahead of World Breastfeeding Week which begins this Thursday, 01 August.

Although choosing to breastfeed can leave mothers solely responsible for their child's nourishment, the important role of family, friends and employers in the process has been highlighted.

In a bid to encourage a more supportive environment for breastfeeding mums and to increase rates for Northern Ireland, the PHA's Breastfeeding Welcome Here database is a useful tool for promoting venues that welcome mothers who need to feed their babies.

Janet Calvert, the PHA's lead for breastfeeding, said: "Yes it's the mums who feed, but when fathers, partners, families, workplaces, and communities show their support, mums are more likely to start breastfeeding and continue breastfeeding for longer."

Breastfeeding can help protect babies against a range of serious illnesses including gastroenteritis and respiratory infections in infancy as well as asthma, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes in later life. It can also reduce the mother's risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, according to the PHA.

Support to help mums get started with breastfeeding can be crucial and all maternity units in Northern Ireland have been designated as 'Baby Friendly' by the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative.
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Janet Calvert continued: "Once mums leave hospital, support is available from more than 100 breastfeeding support groups across Northern Ireland; through peer support volunteers, who are mums who have breastfed and, provide mother-to-mother support to those on their breastfeeding journey; and from breastfeeding counsellors who have been trained to provide extra support.

"But we all have a role in supporting breastfeeding mums- whether that is through encouragement to a partner, friend, sister, or daughter who is feeding, bringing them a drink, preparing meals, doing housework, or protecting them from others' negativity towards breastfeeding, these things all mean a lot to a mum who can then get on with feeding their baby."

The PHA's website, available here has information on all of the support available. It also includes advice and guidance for employers on how to support breastfeeding mums on their return to work and emphasises the primary objective of giving every child the best possible start in life in line with the NI public health framework, Making Life Better.

The website has an interactive map highlighting the 800 breastfeeding friendly venues that are signed up to the scheme, which helps show community support for breastfeeding, with businesses, council facilities and popular tourist attractions signed up. The venues have pledged to welcome breastfeeding mothers and agreed to display a pink sticker and certificate which shows they are members of the scheme, with staff trained to be supportive of mothers on the premises.


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