Over 125 events are taking place nationwide this week to mark National Breastfeeding Week.
The theme of the week is ‘Every breastfeed makes a difference' and the HSE is reminding people of the various supports available to mothers, and their families, who choose to feed their babies this way.
The HSE's dedicated website, breastfeeding.ie, provides details on a range of supports available, including a live web chat facility provided by lactation consultants and a free ‘ask our expert' service.
"Breastfeeding is a natural process, however mothers may require support, knowledge and education. Breastfeeding.ie provides answers to all your questions, and support and information is available to help you and your baby.
"The breastfeeding videos at the site provide guidance on positioning and attaching baby, expressing milk, what to expect in the early days, and tips from other mothers," Commented Laura McHugh, the HSE's national breastfeeding coordinator.
Breastfeeding.ie also contains details of 290 support groups nationwide. These groups may be organised by lactation consultants, trained breastfeeding support volunteers or public health nurses.
"A recently published study tells us that when support is offered to breastfeeding mothers with healthy term babies, it increases the duration and exclusivity of breastfeeding," Ms McHugh noted.
The study looked at breastfeeding groups facilitated by public health nurses.
"The findings from the study clearly highlight a number of benefits for everyone involved and shows a very positive impact on the health of mothers and infants from attending groups facilitated by public health nurses.
"The study also shows that attendance at a breastfeeding group can result in improvements in the mental health of new mothers and can also help mothers to breastfeed for a longer period of time," explained one of its co-authors, Dr Sinead Hanafin of Trinity College Dublin.
National Breastfeeding Week runs until October 7. Events taking place include coffee mornings and a visit by breastfeeding mothers and their babies to Áras an Uachtaráin. For more information on breastfeeding, see breastfeeding.ie or like the HSE breastfeeding page on Facebook here
*Pictured are Caitrina Byrne and baby Charlie with Laura McHugh, the HSE's National Breastfeeding Coordinator at the Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) Breastfeeding Support Group in the SMA Parish Hall, Wilton, Cork