A new breastfeeding initiative has been launched in a part of Dublin that has previously recorded very low breastfeeding uptake rates.
The ‘Tallaght Welcomes Breastfeeding' initiative aims to encourage women to breastfeed and to highlight the many benefits this can have for both mothers and their babies.
Figures released earlier this year by the HSE found big differences in breastfeeding rates across Dublin, with initial uptake rates highest in Dublin south east (84%), but lowest in Dublin south west (48%), which includes Tallaght.
As part of the initiative, community settings and organisations are being asked to display a ‘Tallaght Welcomes Breastfeeding' sticker to assure mothers that they are welcome to breastfeed in that location and can feel comfortable doing so.
The campaign was launched by journalist and breastfeeding advocate, Siobhan O'Connor, who said that mothers need to feel supported and empowered to breastfeed everywhere.
"The more breastfeeding is encouraged in public places, the more it will be considered the norm. We need to teach all children in secondary school, male and female, about the benefits so that they have the facts and thereby normalise what is one of the most natural things we do as mothers," she commented.
The campaign is led by the Childhood Development Initiative (CDI) and is supported by public health nurses from the HSE in Dublin South West, the Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital, Tallaght University Hospital, Early Years Services, the Local Arts Centre (Civic Theatre) and parents.
According to CDI parenting specialist, Elaine Fagan, there are many benefits associated with breastfeeding.
"It reduces the risk of babies getting colds, infections and disease and strengthens mother and baby bonding. Breastfeeding support is most effective when provided by both professionals and peers, with community peer support particularly helpful in changing attitudes and normalising breastfeeding," she said.
The initiative will also include public information events and it is seeking opportunities to speak to partners, grandparents and people in wider community settings, such as schools, active retirement groups, sports clubs and youth groups.
"We would particularly value opportunities to speak in secondary schools to young people who have not even thought about becoming parents, and for teachers to champion this programme. If their mothers have not breastfed, then young women are unlikely to be encouraged at home so we need to talk directly to them," explained Coombe Hospital midwife, Megan Sheppard.
There is no charge for these talks and arrangements can be made by calling CDI on (01) 494 0030 or clicking here