Fianna Fáil senator Fiona O’Loughlin is calling on the HSE to provide urgent supports to help breastfeeding mums.
Speaking in the Seanad, Senator O’Loughlin also called for a national campaign to inform and promote breastfeeding in Irish society, adding that there is a “glaring need for more supports both in the hospital at birth and follow-up with lactation service at home” right now.
Senator O’Loughlin commented, “It is clear that the HSE needs to fully implement the National Maternity Strategy 2016-2026, the HSE Breastfeeding Action plan 2016-2021 and WHO breastfeeding guidelines.”
Approximately 65,000 children are born every year in Ireland, yet there are only 30 full-time equivalent lactation consultants in the public health system; no dedicated lactation consultant in 5 maternity hospitals-Sligo, Letterkenny, Mayo, Wexford and Waterford; and 16 counties where there are no dedicated lactation consultants working in Community settings.
“There are undoubted benefits to breastfeeding – both for the baby and Mum, for both it is can also be difficult and frustrating. New mums need to learn about technique (how to position baby), mechanics (how to know baby is getting enough milk) and logistics (when a meal is over and when it’s time for another).”
In a survey carried out by Bainne Beatha, 84% of respondents intended to exclusively breastfeed-but 9 in 10 Mothers said that feeding did not go as planned. They also report that 1 in 3 Mothers were encouraged to give their babies formula, in the maternity hospital, despite expressing wishes to breastfeed.
The Kildare senator added: “There also needs to be an annual national campaign to inform and promote breastfeeding in Irish society.”