Breastfeeding Baby Rates In NI Still Too Low

World Breastfeeding Week highlights importance of breastfeeding for mothers and babies

World Breastfeeding Week highlights importance of breastfeeding for mothers and babies

August 1st marked the beginning of World Breastfeeding Week and this year’s theme ‘Educate and Support’ aims to encourage everyone to support breastfeeding mothers, babies, and their families by creating breastfeeding-friendly environments.

Dr Hannah Dearie, Senior Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement Officer with PHA, said: “Showing increased support for breastfeeding mums is really important, as rates of breastfeeding in Northern Ireland lag behind other countries.

“New Mums often need information and support to start breastfeeding in the first few days after birth and to continue breastfeeding when they are discharged from hospital. Creating supportive environments for breastfeeding Mums makes continuing to breastfeed more likely.

“World Breastfeeding Week which also coincides with Breastival 2022, provides an excellent opportunity to highlight the range of services that are available to support individuals on their breastfeeding journey.”

Breastfeeding Welcome Scheme Gives Mums Support In South Eastern HSC Trust

The South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust are raising awareness and highlighting the availability of comfortable public spaces for women to breastfeed their babies.

Claire Coney with her children Joshua, Saul and Clara.

Breastfeeding is important to the health of both mother and baby, yet Northern Ireland has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in Europe.  While half of new mums start breastfeeding, many stop as they feel there is a lack of support, particularly when they want to feed their baby outside of their home.

The ‘Breastfeeding Welcome Here Scheme’ is an initiative which aims to make it easier for mothers to recognise places where they can breastfeed and are supported to do so. Businesses who sign up to the Breastfeeding Welcome Here Scheme agree:

*        Breastfeeding is acceptable in all public areas of their premises

*         They will not ask a mother to move or stop breastfeeding in a public area

*         All staff members will be made aware of the scheme and will be supportive of mothers on the premises

*         The business will display a ‘Breastfeeding is Welcome Here’ sign and certificate in their window

South Eastern HSC Trust Breastfeeding Project Lead, Jacqui Henning.

Talking about the scheme, Breastfeeding Project Lead, Jacqui Henning said: “For new parents, taking a baby out in public for the first time is a big event. This can be made more difficult when a mother breastfeeds in public and finds opposition or criticism. 

“Culturally we see more babies that are formula fed, rather than breastfed. A lack of awareness and empathy for breastfeeding mothers can cause stress and can be detrimental to a mother’s confidence.

“The ‘Breastfeeding Welcome Here’ scheme aims to accommodate and support families who wish to breastfeed while they are out and about. Each business displays the schemes logo in their window, so it’s very clear and welcoming to breastfeeding mothers. The Breastfed Babies website also has a list of businesses who have signed up to the scheme, so a mum can check this according to postcode before they go out.”

Mum and Breastfeeding Peer Support Volunteer Claire Coney has personally experienced the difficulties that some mums face when they are out with their babies. Claire explained, “Feeding out in public for any mum can be extremely daunting. Having businesses in the local community that welcome breastfeeding is vital to give mums a place to go where they feel supported and build their confidence.

“In my role as a Breastfeeding Peer Support Volunteer I have been able to provide support and knowledge to empower other mums and guide them through the challenges they may face while on their breastfeeding journey.

“The Breastfeeding Peer Support Service is available to all women and provides a text/phone service led by Trust volunteers who have experience in breastfeeding. If you would like information on how to access this support please ask your Midwife or Health Visitor to make a referral.”

You can find out more information on breastfeeding, support groups and the location of local businesses in your area who support the scheme by visiting: